Should Sellers Take Personal Letters From Homebuyers Seriously?

In the competitive market for a home that exists in many parts of the country, more buyers are embracing a novel tool: adding to their offers a heartfelt letter and a family photo in hopes of swaying the seller to choose their bid.

“It is very common these days. It is so competitive out there. I think you’ve got to pull out all the stops,” says Klaus Gosma, a Redfin agent in Seattle. “If all other things are equal, [a compelling letter and photo] could be a scenario that may make a difference. Most people are going to make the logical choice, but some people are going to be more emotional.”

These days it’s not only rare for the buyer and seller to meet during the homebuying process, but the buyer’s agent and listing agent may never meet, doing all their interactions via text message and email. That can make the buyer’s letter the only biographical information the seller receives.

“It does help humanize the buyer in the seller’s eyes,” says Victor Quiroz, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in the Southern California town of Cerritos. An effective letter is likely to include the buyers’ professions, the ages of their children and a nice family photo. “It doesn’t always work, but it does help a little bit.”

For sellers, the letters add another factor to evaluate when weighing competing offers. But, agents say, letters can be persuasive because sellers are often emotional aboutselling their homes, particularly houses in which they have raised families.

“Every seller is different, and they’re selling for a different reason,” Quiroz says. “Sometimes sellers make decisions not based on financial issues. Sometimes they make decisions for emotional reasons. … I’m actually seeing sellers accept less money and turn down fast closings because they resonated with the buyers.”

In markets where multiple offers are common, such as San Francisco and Seattle, families seeking to buy a home with a mortgage are competing with investors offering all cash and a quick closing. If a seller isn’t in a hurry, and the net proceeds will be the same, a connection with a prospective buyer can influence the seller to accept a longer closing time and a bit more uncertainty.  More here.

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