So you finally found the house of your dreams - and you love it - a lot!!! The problem is , so do a lot of other buyers out there! And if you have been looking for a house in the Richmond Virginia area, you no doubt know that most homes that show well and are competitively priced are usually selling on the first day - most times with multiple offers that end up driving the price up! Most home buyers I work with need financing, and, if you are a first time homebuyer, you are probably getting an FHA or VHDA loan, and you may also need the seller to pay a lot of your closing costs! If you are competing with buyers who are paying all cash or are getting a conventional loan, or if the buyers that you are competing with don't need closing costs, then you need to find other ways to make your offer stand head and shoulders above those other homes!
Yes, you can definitely come in with some cleaner terms (not asking for minor repairs on the house during the inspection period, allowing the sellers to retain possession of their house after closing at no extra charge, giving a seller the closing date that they want), and you can even bump up the price of the house to cover the closing costs you need the seller to pay, but I have found more and more that a personal letter from the buyer to the seller can many times win you the house over the other bidders, even if your offer was not the highest offer on the table!
Unless the house you are buying is a house an investor purchased and then renovated & is now selling, most sellers have lived in their home and have loved their home - they have memories in the house, they have neighbors that they are friends with, and they want to feel that the next owner of their home will be someone who will love their home and their neighborhood as much as they did! A letter attached to your offer let's the seller know a bit about you and your family and helps you establish a connection to the sellers of the home!
So what are some things you can do to help you write a letter so your offer stands out? Here are my top 10 suggestions (in no particular order, of course) ---
(1) Get Creative - do a video! With all the apps we have available to us on our phones, a great idea would be to create a small video that let's the seller know how much you love the house, why you love their house and how you are hoping to make it yours!!!
(2) Let the Seller Know About What You Have In Common With Them! If you notice that there are dog beds in the house, and you have a dog, let them know about your dog and how much you are excited to have a fenced in back yard that your dog can run around in! Or if you have little girls and the seller has little girls, let the seller know how excited you are that you won't have to redo a bedroom for your little girl!
(3) Sometimes Less Is More! Sellers don't want to read books and books about why you love the house - let them know why you are hoping to make the house yours, but keep it shorter than 1 page!
(4) Keep It Professional! Although you want the seller to know how much you really do love their house and how you are looking forward to becoming a part of the neighborhood they are leaving behind, you also want to make sure your best foot is forward - make sure there are no typographical errors and that the sentences are correct! No misspellings! Run spell check if you need to!
(5) Make It Stand Out! Why not include a couple of pictures - you and the family, your pets, the kids! After all, the purpose of the letter is to help you and the sellers bond together so that they choose your offer over all the others!
(6) Make It Stand Out - Part 2! And while you are at it, why not use some different fonts & colors to help your tell your story! To help you say why this house is the one & to tell the sellers a little bit about yourself!
(7) Print Out The Letter Or Better Yet - Make It A Word Document That The Sellers Can Look At Onscreen! Most offers are sent these days via email, so why not have a word document or a video that can be attached to the offer being emailed to the seller's agent!
(8) Don't Remodel The Seller's House In The Letter! You may love the house and everything the seller has done in there, but you may not be totally in love with the wall colors that they chose! Even though you may decide to change the colors after closing, don't tell the sellers all the changes you plan to do to the house after closing! After all, they may love all the colors that are in the house - and they may just get a tiny bit insulted if you start telling them everything you plan to do to the house after closing!
(9) Be Authentic! Seller's can definitely pick up when you are not authentic about what you love about their home! So keep it genuine! If you don't love the paint colors, but you love their decorating style, tell them that you love their style - you don't have to mention about the paint colors! If you love all the upgrades that they chose to put in the house, tell them that! If your kids have already picked out their bedrooms, let the sellers know that! Say it in your own words!
(10) Let The Sellers Know How You See YOUR Lifestyle as New Owners of Their Home! If you can picture having coffee on the back deck overlooking the woods behind the house, let the sellers know that! If you can picture taking the kids trick or treating through the neighborhood, let them know that! Let the sellers know you are thankful for the care that they have put into their home! Even if the offer the buyers are making is most likely below that of the competition, telling the sellers that this is the home that they can see themselves and their family in for many years to come may go a long way to putting your offer above the others!
Most homebuyers know that buying a home is an emotional experience - we Realtors can put in your criteria into a computer to come up with homes that meet location, bedrooms, baths, price, schools, size, style - but we can't put feelings into the computer! When a buyer walks into a house they know whether or not it is the home for them! But homesellers are also experiencing emotions when it comes to selling their home - it is the place that they raised their children in, it was their first place they bought as a married couple, it is the neighborhood that they have gotten to know all the neighbors in! A personal letter to the seller tells the seller all the things you love about the house and how you can see you and your family living in it!
If you are thinking about buying or selling a home, or just have a question about the real estate market, don't hesitate to call me - I would be happy to help!