Getting Personal: How to Write an Offer Letter

Death to the Stock Photo

Death to the Stock Photo

If you’re looking to buy a house in today’s real estate market, as I’m sure you know, the competition can get pretty crazy. Writing a personal letter to accompany your offer can give you a leg up and possibly be the difference between having your offer accepted or not.

Start with a brief description of who you are, what you do, why you love the home, and what your intent is for the property. You want to give the sellers a glimpse into what it would be like if you bought the home. Paint a picture for them of what your day to day life would be like if you lived there. Are you going to raise a family there? Are you an avid gardener? Are you going to preserve historic features of the home?

Think about the property and the seller who will be reading your letter. Who are they? How long did they live in the house? Is there an area of the house where you can tell that they put a lot of thought or attention? For example, there may be areas that have been remodeled or updated recently, or the garage was the perfect place to showcase their classic cars, or they have original built-in cabinets in the dining room. Compliment them on their home, but don’t overdo it. Be genuine about whatever it is that you truly like about the property and why.

Ultimately, you want to win the seller over by making a connection with them. Generally speaking, people tend to gravitate towards other people they might have something in common with or people who inspire them. However, the most important thing is to stay sincere. If you’re buying the home and planning a second story addition, don’t talk about preserving original details or how it’s the perfect size. Instead, focus on your growing family and how you hope the house can grow with you.

It can also help to include a photo or two. I mean, who can forget a cute baby or an adorable dog? I recommend staying away from business headshots or anything too stuffy. Look for photos that are casual and present you as down to earth people that the seller might want to grab a cup of coffee with sometime.

Full disclosure: while a personal letter will generally help you stand out in a multiple offer situation, it can also potentially sabotage your chances of getting your offer accepted. Some sellers don’t have an emotional attachment to real estate or something you say could rub them the wrong way. Maybe you mention your two cats, and the seller has an aversion to felines. For some, selling a house is nothing more than a business transaction or they may be looking for a very specific kind of buyer. In some cases it may be best to not write a letter at all. Discuss it with your agent and see what you can learn about the seller and whether or not a personal letter might help or hinder your offer.