How to Write a Winning Love Letter to Home Sellers
Update: Since we first posted here about how to write a winning love letter to home sellers – a common strategy for buyers trying to get their offers noticed in the competitive Bay Area market – the California Association of Realtors issued new guidance in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and increased awareness of fair housing laws. Guidelines released in October 2020 discourage home sellers from viewing personal letters, photos, or videos that potentially could lead to biases based on race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual identity, family status, or disability. We advise buyers who still want to write personal letters (and many do) to focus on their love for the home and neighborhood and avoid including photos. It’s up to the sellers and their agents to view it or not.
What to write – and not write – in a love letter to home sellers
Did you finally find your dream home for sale and then realize you’re up against a dozen other competitive bids? Gulp.
Getting your offer accepted isn’t easy in the red-hot East Bay real estate market, where homes for sale in Oakland, Berkeley, Lafayette, Alameda, and the rest of the region draw multiple offers. One Abio listing in Walnut Creek received 11 offers, another in Berkeley received 15, and a house in Oakland got a whopping 23!
How can your offer stand out in such a competitive climate?
One common and highly effective tool for the last several years has been the love letter (a.k.a. “cover letter”) to the home seller. Although thinking has recently changed about whether sellers should view these special notes, many buyers are still interested in submitting them.
Why? They know that making the highest offer might be the obvious way to win a bid, but sometimes the bottom line isn’t just about money. With a love letter to the home seller, 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’re lucky, you’ll tug at some heartstrings.
There’s an art to writing the best letter, something not too sappy, flowery, or in iambic pentameter. Read our love letter Do’s and Don’ts before you consider including one in your offer:
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 generic.
- Stick to one page. Sellers don’t have time to read your novel.
- 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. (Note: See our update at the top of this blog post and decide how personal you want to get.)
- 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 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, 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 creative letter.
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.
Stumped about whether to write a love letter to home sellers or what to put in it? Abio Properties is happy to share successful examples with you. Call us at 888-400-ABIO (2246) or email us at email@example.com.