Here’s the scenario, you’re in a bidding war with multiple offers for your perfect home. Would like to maximize the likelihood of your offer being accepted, even if you are not the highest bidder? In this post, I’m going to explain how to make a personal connection when you make your bid and increase the likelihood of your offer getting accepted.
In today’s very competitive sellers market, buyers often find it very difficult to get their offer accepted. One thing every buyer should be doing when submitting an offer to a seller is to write a personal cover letter introducing yourself to the seller. Appealing to the seller as a person, as opposed to a contract, can give you that emotional edge that will help you stand out from the crowd. At the end of the day, real estate is a people business. Buyers will always benefit from making a human connection to the seller and a cover letter is the easiest way to do that. Some sellers won’t look at buyer’s cover letters but many will. As a family man and military veteran myself, if I were selling my home, I would definitely want to read all the buyer’s cover letters. If a veteran or a family was making an offer on my house, I would give those offers a major preference over an investor or a vacation home buyer.
We see this kind of thing happen all the time. Just last week I heard an agent talk about seller who accepted an offer from her clients, a family, even though other investor offers came in much higher.
But how do you write that letter? What do you include?
I’m glad you asked. Here are 10 guidelines to frame your cover letter in a way that emphasizes the SELLER’S point of view:
1) Flattery will get you everywhere This is an emotional pitch and by the end of the letter you want them to like you. How do you get a person to like you? Well, you like them first. Genuinely consider what you like about their home, their lifestyle and anything you think is basically cool about them. Did you love their Harley Davidson Motorcycle in the garage? Tell them. Did you notice any common interest? Definitely bring that up, “Hey, noticed your huge Star War’s poster in your kid’s room. My kid’s got the same one in his room.” You can lay it on heavy, but keep it sincere. You’re selling yourself, but you don’t want THEM to feel like they’re being sold a used car.
2) Get To The Point You may have tons great ideas that you’d like to tell the seller. They will only remember two. The seller may have 10 other letters to read. If you mix in your strongest points with your weakest points, they all just become a jumble. Pick two or three reasons why you will be the best buyer for this home, and make them distinctly recognizable. The more streamlined you make your message, the more memorable it will be. Less is more.
3) Paint A Picture People remember what they’ve read at a far higher rate when they can see a picture of it in their head. “I really love this neighborhood because I’ve lived and worked here.” doesn’t resonate. On the other hand, “When I saw the blooms on your cherry tree, it reminded me of my childhood home,” will trigger a visual memory for a seller. Or how about, “I can’t wait for my family to taste the bright red, fresh heirloom tomatoes I want to plant in your raised bed gardens”.
4) Don’t Remodel The House in your letter If you are planing on changing this around on the property, don’t mention it. You might be correct that the seller’s arts and crafts room would make a great work out room for you, but this isn’t the time. If you’re going to knock a wall down to create a bigger master bedroom, you might be obliterating their kid’s room they so adored. They may have buried their pet under the tree you’re planning to pave over. There is a lot of emotion attached to the seller’s home so go easy on them.
5) Show Stability Present yourself as a stable buyer who will have no problem closing the purchase. Whether it’s a reference to your lack of contingencies, amazing employment record, or commitment to moving in as soon as the sellers are comfortable, try to ease the sellers’ fears of a shaky transaction.
6) Show Humility At the same time, be humble and ask for the sellers’ blessing on your offer. “We would be so honored to live in your home,” goes much further than “We are confident that you will accept our generous offer.” The ball is in their court, and your letter should acknowledge that.
7) Don’t Whine The emotion of your letter must be upbeat and high. It needs to make the seller feel good. Everyone wants to play with a winner so don’t bum them out. For example, the seller doesn’t care how many other homes you’ve lost out on. They don’t care that your rent just doubled. They don’t want to know about your sad condition that requires you to have a home like this. That will make them feel awkward and put your offer on the bottom of the pile.
8) Close With Clarity Your excitement, motivation, and ability should be reiterated at the end of your letter in a quick recap. Remember that the sellers could very well be reading several letters. Make sure that the closing of your letter reminds them of your best qualities and reinforces them.
9) Sign with Appreciation The feeling your sellers will leave with can live or die on the signature line: “Sincerely”, “Best Regards”, and “Yours Truly” do not apply. This is not a business correspondence of equals. Thank the sellers for spending their valuable evening reading the note that you wrote about yourself and your family. “Thank you so much for your time,” “Thank you for the opportunity,” “Your consideration is greatly appreciated,” or even “We are honored to have the opportunity,” will leave the seller understanding that you value their time and are grateful for it.
10) Grammar matters! Take the time to proof your letter and ask your spouse, partner or friend to proof it as well. A letter full of mistakes looks bad and will consciously or unconsciously prejudice the seller against you. Often your personality will be judged from their attention to detail, ability to follow-through, and level of care in the letter. The seller is looking for any sign of unreliability in you. Don’t give them an excuse to categorize you as sloppy and lazy. Don’t rush the letter. Take the time to write it correctly. It just might be the most valuable single page of text you ever write.
Finally, one last tip to put the cherry on top…include a picture of yourself and your family if you have one and include your pets as well. A picture is worth a 1000 words so whip out those pearly whites and turn on the charm.