Connect with home sellers to make them feel good about letting you purchase their home. A personal letter to a home seller allows you to provide better context to the offer price and conditions, and also allows you to make a personal connection by sharing everything you love about the home.
By Tania Isacoff Friedland, Contributor to U.S. News & World Report
First impressions are everything. Whether you’re buying a home, an apartment or some other type of property, presenting your initial offer in a positive light paves the way for a productive and smooth negotiation process.
Typically, formal offers are sent by the buyer’s broker to the seller’s broker in writing via email. In some cases, a buyer will also write a personal note to the seller to send along with it.
In this case, the buyer’s broker will often include a short profile about the buyers and express their love for the property, but brief enough so the buyers' personal letter remains impactful and is not redundant. If the buyer is not working with a real estate broker and does not have representation, the offer would come directly from the buyer.
So, if you truly love a home or want to acquire an investment property, how do you write the perfect offer letter that combines your personal touch with a formal offer?
Keep it simple, and focus on three things: State your intentions, show that you have the financial means to make the purchase and make a personal appeal to the seller.
Here's how to write your letter to the seller:
Start with the details.
Paint a picture.
Romance the seller.
Go the extra mile.
Start With the Details
At the beginning of your offer letter, express your appreciation for having the opportunity to visit the property, and state your terms upfront. Note the example below is intended for an offer on a private residence – an offer for a different type of property should be modified accordingly:
“Thank you for allowing me to visit [INSERT ADDRESS]. I love [INSERT ADDRESS] and I’m eager to make it my new home. I’m pleased to present my offer of [INSERT OFFER PRICE].”
Next, include information about how you plan to pay for the purchase (all cash or financing), your requests for contingencies (financing contingency and inspection contingency, for example), your desired closing time frame and any other special conditions. If you’re financing the purchase, a preapproval letter from your bank should be provided along with the offer letter.
It is important to make it clear that you’re a serious buyer and you're prepared to sign a contract upon completion of the due diligence process. You should also be in touch with a real estate attorney to help with the transaction.
If you’re making an offer that’s substantially lower than the seller’s asking price, you might consider including your reasoning for the low offer. To help build your case, consider contextualizing current market conditions and recent sales of comparable properties in the same neighborhood or building to put things into perspective. If the property is older or in need of repairs and renovations, outlining what specific updates need to be done and the approximate renovation costs can also help justify your offer.
Paint a Picture
Presenting yourself as a human being, rather than a simple dollar amount, is key to establishing a successful negotiation position. Provide the seller with a brief personal background and tell them about your spouse or family, if applicable.
Include career details, such as your current job and a description of your professional industry, as well as a quick summary of your career path leading up to your current position. This could also include where you grew up and which schools you’ve attended. You can even tell them about any pets you have.
Now, you’re a person with a story – you’ve painted a picture about who you are, which is harder for a seller to ignore. The seller will think of you as a human being, not just another buyer who offered a certain price for the property.
Romance the Seller
Once you’ve shared a bit about who you are, shift your focus to romancing the seller when it comes to his or her home. Flatter the seller by highlighting all the things you love about the house, and explaining why it is the place you want to call home. Be enthusiastic, but don’t go overboard.
While a real estate negotiation is a business transaction, if the sellers identify with you on a personal level, they can develop an affinity towards you – particularly in a competitive bidding situation – which may mean that they offer some flexibility during a negotiation. The sellers can feel pleased that they are passing their home on to someone who will love and appreciate it as much as they have.
Go the Extra Mile
In a competitive bidding situation, buyers can send flowers or cookies to the seller, along with a handwritten note. A small gesture like this indicates your thoughtfulness and authentic love for the property. Just be sure to keep it simple and tasteful, as you never want a seller to feel uncomfortable by being overly aggressive.
In the end, the important thing to remember is that you want to make sure your offer letter clearly states your intent to purchase a home, that you are in a sound financial position to make the purchase and that you’re providing a personal appeal to the sellers so they know their home will be in caring and responsible hands.