Home Buying a Home The Do’s & Don’ts of Personalizing Your Offer

The Do’s & Don’ts of Personalizing Your Offer

by Eric Rothman
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Buying a new home in a hot real estate market can be extremely competitive. Often times, sellers are fielding multiple offers that all look relatively similar.

One way buyers try to stand out is through a personalized cover letter. This letter can be a way to set yourself apart from the competition is by connecting with the seller on a more personal level.

We talked with the amazing REX Buyer’s Agent team to find out the do’s and don’ts of real estate cover letters.

What works…

Personalize letters with a family element

Little girl carrying a box into their new home.

If you are taking the time to write a letter, tell the seller about yourself! Your spouse, your kids, your pets…all should be included in what you write. “Share what homeownership means to you and what you’ve accomplished on your way to this offer,” says REX Texas Agent Kate Ward.

“Sellers can’t advertise specifically to families, but if you want that six-bedroom house and you have four kids, feel free to mention them. Were you in the military? Are you a teacher? Let them know!”

Incorporate aspects of the house or community that resonate with you

“During your tour of the home, try to create a mental connection to the seller’s lifestyle,” says REX San Diego Agent Mark Chavez. “Try to pick up on things like camping/hiking equipment in the garage, pictures on the wall of pets or grandkids. By mentioning these things in your letter, you build a rapport with the seller.”

Recognize the care that the sellers have taken in the home

It’s true that selling a home is a huge financial decision, but it is also a huge emotional decision. “It’s important to let the seller know that you realize letting go of their home is a big decision,” says Chavez. “Show them that you are eager to continue to nurture the home going forward.”

Well written letters with no spelling or grammatical errors

This one should be self-explanatory. Take the time to review and edit your letter before sending it.

Hand deliver a hard copy of your letter

This one isn’t always possible or feasible. But, if you or your agent have a relationship with the seller where hand-delivering a letter would be appropriate, go for it. Printing out a hard copy of your letter and taking the time to deliver it shows a commitment to your offer and the home itself.

What doesn’t work…

Letters that don’t match the offer

Don’t write a letter if it’s not genuine. Telling the sellers how much you LOVE their home and can’t wait to raise a family there, doesn’t hold much water if it is accompanied by an undesirable offer.

“If you’re submitting an offer that is well below asking, or with undesirable terms for the seller (i.e., longer escrows, less than 3% deposit, too many repair requests, etc.), a personal letter won’t do much to influence the seller,” says REX Los Angeles Agent Kara Birkenstock. “In a competitive market, the terms of the offer will make a huge difference. Keep that in mind.”

Disrespecting the seller and their privacy

Some sellers are all business and don’t want a personal letter,” says Ward. “So, I recommend sending your letter through the agents. Don’t include photos and avoid references to race and religion. Let your agent know that you are offering the letter, but will respect the sellers’ choice not to read it if that is their preference.”

Forcing a connection

Don’t find anything on your home tour that connects you to the current owner? That’s ok. Writing a letter that feels forced or misses the mark can turn a seller off. 

“For instance, if the house has been an investment property and the owners haven’t lived there, they might not feel a strong connection to the home,” says Ward. “A letter might feel disingenuous and inappropriate.”

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