You spend months looking for the right home to match your needs and dreams. Then, you finally find it — that perfect gem that checks off every item on your list and falls in your price range. The only problem is that it also checks off three other buyers’ lists, and you’re now in a bidding war to win the property. In this situation, your real estate agent may ask you to write a home offer letter. If offers are all within a close range, sometimes, a letter can urge the sellers to take your bid over another one.
The need to knock an offer letter out of the park will only become greater in the foreseeable future. The number of home listings has dropped by 8.1 percent in the last year. Available inventory has fallen for several years now. At the same time, inventories are at some of their lowest levels in recent years, and prices are on the rise. In some areas, the market is even more competitive.
The housing supply squeeze can be especially intimidating for younger or first-time homebuyers who haven’t experienced this process before. Here’s how you can get ahead and write a stellar letter in 5 fairly simple steps.
1. Write From the Heart
Your home offer letter is an emotional appeal to the seller. If you focus on anything, focus on being authentic in this letter. Do you picture your future kids growing up in the home and playing in the backyard? What is it about this particular home you like so much? You never know — you might just hit on the thing the seller loved most about the house, and they may choose your bid based mainly on your letter.
2. Choose Two Main Points
Studies show that most sellers only remember two points from your letter, so don’t get too lengthy. Choose two main points you’d like to get across that explain why you’re the best buyer and how you’ll love their home. Write a home offer letter that’s potent but doesn’t take up too much of the sellers’ precious time. The shorter your message, the more on-point it will be.
One couple in Berkeley, California, had already lost out on two bidding wards, so decided to connect with the sellers of a home they wanted via a letter. Even though their bid on the home wasn’t the highest bid, they still won the house because the sellers felt a connection to them. Their two main points? The character of the home they wanted and their appreciation for the tight-knit neighborhood.
3. Get the Kids Involved
If you’re bidding on a starter home, keep in mind that it was likely a starter home for the sellers, too. They may have raised their family there for many years and have emotional ties and memories of the place. Have your children write a note and include that, as well, explaining why they want to live in the home. Small children can draw a picture of the house and your family, while older kids can explain what they like about the house. Again, make sure it’s authentic.
No kids involved? Maybe touch on how much the cat would enjoy napping in the sun room, or how perfect that fenced-in yard is for your beloved dog. There’s more than one way to tug on some heartstrings.
4. Leave Out Planned Changes
Sure, you’d probably change a few aspects about the house — but the sellers don’t need this information. They may love the ugly, broken cobblestones leading off the backyard patio because someone they loved helped them lay out the original path. Leave out any upgrades or changes you plan to make. Mentioning those may actually hurt your chances, as owners don’t like to have the warts of their homes pointed out.
Write a home offer letter that discusses what you already love, not what you’d love to change.
5. Gather Information
Attend open houses and talk to the realtor or seller about the backstory. Why is the family moving? Spend more time listening instead of talking and gather as much information as you can. You’re looking for a common interest with the seller. Once you have that in hand, you can tell them you heard about the commonality — tell them who told you — and that you share this thing with them.
One couple created just such a letter and were able to win the house even with seven other bids coming through — all because the sellers connected with their letter more than the others. They shared their story, why they loved the home, a little bit about their family and what their similarities were.
Write a Home Offer Letter That Stands Out
Paying attention to detail and sharing intimate details about your life — such as that your daughter loves the blue bedroom because it reminds her of her favorite stuffed animal — will make your letter stand out. Don’t exaggerate and be authentic. You’ll be surprised how well a heartfelt letter ups your odds of buying the house of your dreams.