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2012-05-30 11:43:54
Make your home offer stand out with a love letter!

By Melinda Fulmer of MSN Real Estate

May Buying Advice: In some hot housing markets, a personal touch can help your  purchasing plea rise above the others.




Just as temperatures are starting to rise, so are multiple offers on prime  properties in some recovering markets. To stand out from the pack, an increasing  number of buyers are taking the old-fashioned approach and penning a love letter  to sellers telling them what they adore about the house and why they are the  best suitor to end up with it.

In this installment of Buying Advice, we'll look at what buyers stand to gain  by writing these letters and what the letters should contain to be most  persuasive.

Courting the owner

Is this tactic a good way to set your bid apart from the pack, or is it a  waste of time? We asked agents what they thought about buyer letters and what  they would include if they wrote one. Most said a sincere letter was worth a  shot for a standard sale, not a bank-owned property.

'I have seen them work miracles with sellers, and I have seen sellers put  them aside and move on with another offer,' says Ofe Polack, an agent with  Coldwell Banker in Manchester, N.H. 'Like everything else in life, it takes two  to tango.'

However, agents caution that buyers should never go rogue and submit a letter  without their agent's knowledge. 'Buyers are never to have direct communication  with sellers,' says San Diego agent Kim Drusch of Century 21 Award. She says she  often submits photos and background stories of the family she is working with,  if she thinks the seller would be swayed by the information.

In this digital age, there's something nice about getting a personal letter  written (or even typed out) on paper, even if it comes from someone you are  doing business with. That's why an increasing number of sellers are writing  letters to owners when competition for properties gets stiff — especially given  that bids considered too high often won't meet lenders' appraisal rules.

Anna and Buzz Hays recently wrote a letter to shore up their bid on a  midcentury home in a coveted Glendale, Calif., neighborhood. 'I thought about it  and said, 'I might not have all cash to pay for the house, but I do have writing  ability and I can use that,'' says Anna Hays, a teen-fiction writer.

She described what she liked about the home, including how well-maintained it  was, the beautiful rock waterfall by the pool, the friendly neighbors and the  'nature and calm' in the wooded neighborhood that surrounded it. She also  included a few lines highlighting her and her husband's résumés and assured the  couple selling their home of 15 years that they would take steps to make its  pool safe for their school-age twins.

 

The strategy worked. Hays and her husband beat out the other three offers and  recently closed on the property. 'They called me when the bid was accepted and  said it was because of the letter,' she says.

'A traditional seller typically is devoted to the home they raised their  family in,' Drusch says. 'They, of course, are vested in who takes over 'their'  house from this point forward.'

Buyers should convey several things in a letter, including:

  • Specific features or things that they like about the house and the  community. 'I've … had sellers read letters and the compliments made them so  happy that they've chosen lower offers because of the letter. But not much  lower,' says Joseph Moore, an agent with Bridge Realty in Minneapolis.
  • How long they've been looking.
  • A little bit about themselves, including names and ages of any kids. 'If the  buyers knows that the seller raised a family in the house, I would appeal to  those emotions,' Polack says.
  • Anything that speaks to their purchasing power or creditworthiness.
  • A commitment to the house and a willingness to do 'whatever it takes' to  land it.
  • Anything else buyer and seller have in common.

Keep it short and sweet and don't give so many compliments that the sellers  think they've underpriced the home, agents say. And don't expect your prose to  bridge a $30,000 gap between your offer and the next bidder's.

'If you're sincere,' Hays says. 'I don't see how you can go wrong,'

 

 

LINDA SECRIST - LINDA SECRIST & ASSOCIATES - EVERYTHING THEY TOUCH TURNS TO SOLD!



 

 
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