Can writing a great offer letter help you get the home of your dreams? Yes, even with all the digital wizardry that now is part of virtually every residential transaction, an old-fashioned, handwritten offer letter could seal the deal.
Because a home can carry so much emotional weight, the seller might want some assurance that its next owner will be a good steward of its legacy. Even though it is a set of walls under a roof, a home is often filled with a lifetime of memories – and letting go of memories can be difficult for some people.
While it’s no guarantee, an offer letter might tip the scales in your favor if the home is in a bidding war, or the seller can’t decide who to sell to. A personalized, well-thought-out offer letter could show that you have all the qualities the seller is looking for. It doesn’t’ have to be written with pen on paper, but doing so could add the right touch of sincerity.
Your real estate agent can tell you when and if the time is right to provide an offer letter. But it doesn’t hurt to have a draft or outline ready. We’ve found some of the do’s and don’ts for writing an effective offer letter. Take a look and, if and when you’re ready to take that final step, tug at the buyer’s heartstrings with an offer (letter) they can’t resist.
Are all offer letters the same?
There are two types of offer letters: firm and conditional:
- A firm offer letter includes the sale price, terms, timeline, and closing target date. To stand out, the letter can acknowledge key points of the conversation you had when you talked by phone or met the homeowners, and remind them of why you’re a good choice to live in their cherished home.
- A conditional letter states that you want to buy the residence only if certain conditions are met. These can include a satisfactory pest inspection, an acceptable home inspection, or having the buyer’s offer approved by their preferred bank.
If the home has everything you want and you’re ready to move forward, a firm offer is more appropriate, and more likely to close a quick sale. Here are some pointers for this type of letter:
- Show real emotion: Explain why you want the house, without alluding to price. Briefly mention anything you have in common with the owners, like family, lifestyle, or careers.
- Include a visual: Consider a professional photo of your family, including pets. This will help the seller visualize the new family that will be enjoying their new home.
- Throw in some flattery: If you remarked on the functional kitchen, custom lighting, or beautiful landscaping, remind them of those special elements that really captured your attention.
- Remind of any financial “extras”: If you’re able to offer a higher-than-expected down payment, say so. If you’re in a bidding war, politely acknowledge the market value of the house and explain why your offer is fair. Your agent can help you with the details.
- Be brief: Keep your letter to one page. This isn’t supposed to be your life story, but a professional, sincere way to explain why you would appreciate the property more than other potential homebuyers.
What to avoid in an offer letter
- Potential changes to the home: Even if you’re thinking about pulling off the wood paneling in the den, don’t talk about any cosmetic changes in the letter.
- Negative thoughts: Don’t make it sound like you’re pressuring the seller about your time crunch, or complain about a price you think is unfair. The goal is to reach an agreement as quickly and painlessly as possible.
- You could offer more: Don’t imply that you could spend more if certain conditions were met.
- Conflicts with formal offer documents: To avoid legal issues, make sure you don’t contradict any terms stated in your agent’s formal offer to buy. This is supposed to be from the heart, not a legal dissertation.
Are you still searching for your perfect home to put an offer on? Be sure to take a look at our available Southern California listings and start drafting up your offer letter so you’re ready when the time comes.
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