~ How do you feel about offer letters? ~
You’ve found the house of your dreams and you’re ready to make an offer; but how do you compete with a handful (sometimes several handfuls) of other prospective buyers who’ve also deemed the home “the one”? This is a dilemma buyers are facing all over the country in today’s fast-paced, low-inventory housing market. Six out of 10 offers written by Redfin agents in its most competitive markets faced bidding wars last month. And the reality is, you aren’t always going to be able to submit the highest offer.
Fortunately, there are ways to make your offer more competitive when more cash isn’t an option. One of the best, Redfin real estate agents say, is an offer letter. The letter gives you the opportunity to connect with the sellers on a personal level, to explain to them why you want their home and why they should choose your offer. And that human connection, agents say, can sometimes even trump a higher price for sellers.
“I recently worked with some first-time homebuyers who fell in love with a highly desirable townhouse and were determined to get it,” said Redfin real estate agent Lesley Lannan. “Theirs was the first offer on the property, and the owner was so touched by their letter that he accepted their offer and cancelled a subsequent Open House. I can’t underscore the importance of offer letters more.”
Here are some tips to help you write a strong offer letter:
1. Format your letter to make it stand out
As offer letters become more and more common, you have to find a way to make yours stand out. Think of it like a resume. A beautiful letter with attention-grabbing fonts is going to jump out next to other letters. Need some inspiration? Check out this beautifully formatted offer letter that won this couple their home.
2. Tell the sellers what you love about the house
Don’t just tell the sellers you want their house, tell them why you want it. Whether it was a big backyard, a chef’s kitchen or a walk-in closet that grabbed your attention, the owners will be flattered to hear what you liked most about their home.
3. Make personal connections
Though it may sound silly, bonds can easily be built over a mutual love for cats, or the Patriots or whatever it may be. If you share a common value or hobby with the sellers, mention it in your cover letter. It’s an easy way to make yourself more relatable, and will also show that you’re not sending the same generic letter with every offer you submit.
“A couple clients of mine had a cat that had been recently diagnosed with diabetes,” said Redfin agent Cheryl Demarco. “They fell in love with a house, and discovered that its owners also had cats. In their offer letter, they told the sellers how perfect the home was for them and their disabled kitty—down to the small pantry in front of the bathroom being a perfect place for all of his new supplies and medications. My clients won the home in a multiple offer situation.”
4. Print a hard copy and leave it for the sellers
Think about how many emails you receive daily versus how many hard-copy letters you get. If you send your letter through email, you run the risk of it going to spam or being quickly buried beneath other emails. Instead, Redfin agents recommend leaving a hard copy of the letter on the seller’s’ kitchen counter during a showing. However, they advise you only do this if you know the owners still live there and will see it (as opposed to it being a vacant home), and if there are no other showings after you (as a subsequent agent could see it and possibly remove it.) This will show a little extra initiative on your part, and give you peace of mind knowing that it ended up in their hands and not in their spam folder.