Monday, August 14, 2017 / by Abio Properties, Blogger
Roses are red. Violets are blue. I love your house. So sell it to me.
You found your dream house and you love it so so much! The problem is, you are shopping in the red-hot East Bay real estate market, where homes for sale in Oakland, Berkeley, Lamorinda, Alameda and the rest of the East Bay draw multiple offers. A recent Abio listing in Walnut Creek got 11 offers, another in Berkeley received 15, and a house in Oakland got a whopping 23! You get the picture...
How can your offer stand out in this competitive climate? One highly effective but understated tool is the love letter to the seller.
Making the highest offer might be the obvious way to win a bid, but sometimes the bottom line isn’t just about money. It’s about whether you made a personal connection with the seller.
A love letter to the seller puts a human face on your bid. With a letter, you are no longer just a number on a piece of paper. You are someone who loves the home, who has a backstory, who can envision making a new life there. If you are lucky, you’ll tug at some heartstrings.
Here in the East Bay real estate market, love letters (a.k.a. “cover letter”) are expected. More than 90 percent of hopeful homebuyers in Alameda County and 40 percent in Contra Costa County include personal letters, photographs and sometimes videos with their offer packets.
To be clear, we are not recommending prose that’s sappy, flowery or in iambic pentameter. Read our love letter Do’s and Don’ts:
Love Letter Do’s
- Be authentic. There are templates you can use for a little guidance to get started (Google “love letter to seller”). But once you have your bearings, veer away from the template to avoid being obvious and impersonal.
- Stick to one page. Sellers don’t have time or interest in reading your life story.
- Write about how amazing the home is. Be specific about details you love. Do you adore the neighborhood, too? Tell the seller.
- Introduce yourself and family members. Include your careers, how you and your partner met, where you grew up, hobbies, etc. – anything that’s relevant or interesting. Include the kids and pets.
- Describe what brought you to this house. If you have an interesting house-hunting story, include it.
- Envision the future. Give the sellers a glimpse into your happy future, whether it includes raising a family, planting an epic vegetable garden, cooking holiday meals in the chef’s kitchen or hiking neighborhood trails with your pup.
- Find common ground. While touring the property, did you notice anything you have in common with the homeowner? Favorite sports team, children, pets, career, hobby, hometown, college, design aesthetic? If the house has been fully staged, finding clues will be impossible. Ask your real estate agent for sleuthing help. (No, nothing stalkerish.)
- Format your letter to stand out. Now that letters are so common, make yours pop with images and fonts (but nothing too difficult to read). Need inspiration? Check out this especially creative letter.
- Consider adding a short video.* Personal videos are the new trend in highly competitive markets. All it takes is a smart phone camera and editing tool. (*See our note below about photos and videos.)
Love Letter Don’ts
- Don’t use a template. It’s obvious and impersonal.
- Don’t start with “From the moment we walked in the door.” It's overused.
- Don’t try to negotiate with the seller. This is a love letter, remember?
- Don’t discuss remodeling plans. Flatter – don’t insult – the home and its owner.
- Don’t gush. You’ll sound insincere if you come on too strongly.
- Don’t go too far afield. Abio co-founder and associate broker Linnette Edwards tells the story of would-be buyers who wrote about their love for a home’s giant walk-in pantry. They envisioned themselves hanging out in the pantry late at night, sitting on the floor and gorging on candy. The quirky letter backfired by grossing out the sellers.
* Note of Caution to Sellers about Photos and Videos
Although images are a common component in the love letter to sellers, they may create fair housing concerns. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits sellers from selecting or denying a buyer based on race, religion, color, national origin, sex, family status or disability. A validated complaint can result in a $10,000 fine. We do not know of any particular instances where this has happened, but we encourage sellers to be aware of the law.
Still stumped about what to write in your love letter to sellers? Abio Properties is happy to share successful examples with you. Call Abio at 888-400-ABIO (2246) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.