In this tight housing market, many buyers are using personal letters to highlight their enthusiasm for a property and potentially sway sellers to accept their offer over others.
Emily Alberts wrote such a letter upon the recommendation of her agent and had her offer on an Austin, Texas, home accepted.
“We wanted to stand out from the (likely) dozens of other offers. And, we wanted to convey how we felt about the home – how excited we were and how attached we felt to the home as soon as we walked in,” she said.
“Our real estate agent explained that letters help humanize an offer. They give you a chance to introduce yourself to the seller, as buyers and sellers don’t often interact face-to-face.”
Dear David and Sherry,
From the minute we stepped inside your beautiful house in the hills of northwest Austin, we felt as if we had truly come home. Hailing from Dallas and San Antonio respectively, we have lived in and loved Austin for over 17 years and have always adored the Barrington Oaks and Great Hills neighborhoods. We love the trees, the hills and the friendly neighbors. When first walked through your home at last weekend’s open house, we thought it was nearly too good to be true! It really does check all the boxes for us.
There is always the possibility that the seller may not like your letter. However, if you work with your real estate agent, write it carefully, and show respect for the current owners, a letter can be a powerful tool.
“I think it’s important to convey that in a letter and also honor and acknowledge the work and love they’ve put into their home,” said Alberts.
When writing your letter, Alberts, who is also a senior content strategist at Keller Williams Realty International, suggests including the following:
- An introduction. Tell the seller a bit about yourself. Why do you want to live in this city; this town; this neighborhood; and, perhaps most importantly, this house? As Alberts noted, selling is emotional. Tell the current owners why you selected their home and how you will care for it.
- Talk about the home. What do you love about it? Alberts said she felt a strong connection to the house she eventually bought and conveyed why in her letter. Do the same … add specifics. Don’t just write about the great kitchen; write about how excited you are to make your special meals in a kitchen with tiptop appliances and plenty of natural light.
- Offer reassurance. Yes, you want the house and have every intention of going to closing if your offer is accepted, but stating that can put you in a tricky situation. Work with your agent while composing your letter. Generally speaking, if you’re offering a cash deal or are pre-qualified, highlight that. You want to assure the seller you have the means as well as the desire to buy.
Fair Housing Considerations
One key reason to work with your agent on a buyer letter is to ensure that the letter does not violate the Fair Housing Act, which makes it illegal to refuse to sell or rent to a prospective buyer or tenant based on that individual’s race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin – all protected classes under the law. Personal statements made in a letter could disclose the buyer’s identity as a member of one of those protected classes and unintentionally break federal, state, and/or local fair housing laws.
When writing your letter, avoid including information that reveals your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or familial status. No photos!
- Instead of: My husband and I look forward to raising our family in this home.
- Write: We cannot wait to begin the next chapter of our lives in this home.
- Instead of: This home is close to my synagogue.
- Write: This home is close to venues that are very meaningful to me.
- Instead of: When I moved to the United States from Ghana, I always envisioned owning a home.
- Write: I have always envisioned owning a home. It would be a dream come true to begin my homeownership journey here.
- Instead of: We’ve been looking for a home that is handicap accessible, as my son is in a wheelchair.
- Write: We love your home’s open floor plan and the modifications you’ve made.
As a rule of thumb, a seller should be able to look at multiple offers side-by-side and select the best one without leaning toward a buyer based on their identity. If you have any concerns, do not submit your letter. If you are a seller, you can always include that you will not accept any letters in your listing agreement.
While letters can tug at the heartstrings and make you stand out, you should never count that your letter, alone, will get you the home.
Try offering a larger down payment, conducting a pre-inspection (potentially meaning your offer won’t need to include an inspection contingency), or waiving financing and inspection contingencies.
Buying a home may be the most significant financial transaction you’ll ever make. Make sure you buy the home of your dreams by working with your Keller Williams real estate agent to craft your strategy.