September 13th 2022
Should you write a personal ‘love letter’ to a seller? Real estate agents weigh in
Home. It’s where Canadians make memories, carve out spaces for pets and people, and grow a deep attachment to a physical space. It’s no surprise, then, that sellers who've called a house their home for an extended period of time may have developed a fond emotional bond with the house they list for sale.
For some sellers, that means they’ll likely want to see their beloved place go to ‘the right’ owners when the time comes to sell, particularly those who will give it the same level of TLC.
Writing a personal ‘love letter’ to a seller: Yes or no?
If you’re looking to buy a new home, buyers can use this emotional attachment to make an offer more competitive. Providing a seller with a personal letter could appeal to a seller’s softer side. It may not guarantee that your bid is accepted, but in some special cases, it’s worth a try!
Letting a seller know how you plan to use a space, as well as the significance of the neighbourhood (great schools or daycares, solid access to outdoor space) and why, can make a difference in whether the seller is inclined to accept a buyer's offer - especially if there is a bidding war and you don't know if you are the highest bidder.
However, just how effective they are on getting sellers to prioritize your bid really depends on the sellers, and the situation. What do the experts think? According to a recent poll of Properly agents, 100% of them say ‘yes’ to the idea, although Properly Realtor Alan Calimbas says they work to a degree, but “it depends on the situation and the number of offers.”
Properly Realtor, Kenneth Wong, explains it further:
For an emotional seller that is deciding between multiple offers where, let's say the asking price is $1M. If you have 2 offers, where one is the full ask with no letter, and the other does have a letter but is $990K (so, $10K - $20K below ask), it certainly could make the difference, whereas it would almost certainly have no effect at the $30K+ range. Ultimately this comes down to the seller motivation, and how emotionally attached they are to the property.
Are buyer ‘love letters’ legal, though?
While an overwhelming amount of agents agree on the benefits of writing a letter, there are some things to consider before crafting one.
You may have heard that these types of buyer letters are illegal. However, unlike the Fair Housing Act in the United States, Canada does not have anti-discrimination laws enshrined in the constitution when it comes to housing. Buyer letters with personal information are not illegal in Canada. As a result, the risks for home sellers accepting personal letters are low.
While not a legal concern, these buyer letters can undercut your negotiating power. If a seller thinks you are desperate to own this house, they may try and get you to accept less than ideal terms.
As long as the buyer letter is written with these concerns in mind, including it is probably a good idea.
So, how do you write a compelling buyer letter to a home seller?
If you’re ready to put pen to paper, below are some things to think about when you’re crafting the perfect buyer letter to accompany any offer you make.
Build a connection
Explain a bit about who you are, your family, and your story. This is your opportunity to embellish your offer with a heartfelt note. You want the home sellers to understand who you are, and why you're looking for a new home (and why their home is the best).
Think of this like it’s a cover letter for a job: the offer is your resume, but the cover letter is your chance to make a more emotional, personal connection — and for you to showcase that there's more to you than the offer.
Keep it short
While it can be easy to go into a lot of detail, sellers may be getting these kinds of letters from multiple buyers. Know that you don't need to explain your entire life story — and in the interest of respecting a seller’s time during this big decision — try to keep your letter to only a few short paragraphs.
Even if you might want to renovate the kitchen, or finish the basement, keep your letter focused on the positive things in the house. If it contains 4 bedrooms and you have 3 kids, explain how big a difference that 4th bedroom would make for your family (a huge difference!).
And, focus on the positives in your own story. While you may have been through financial difficulties or other hardships, shine a light on the brighter moments of your journey. You want the buyer to be excited for you to start your life in their home (and not feel bad!).
Find something in common
When you tour the property, keep your eyes open for things that might provide common ground with the home seller. If you see a hockey jersey on the wall, explain how excited you are to be closer to the rink your kids play at. Maybe you know the seller’s family has owned the house for a few generations and you plan to do the same thing. Bringing the seller into the letter, and showing you noticed the fine details, are a good way to break some ground.
Explain why you love the house
Once you’ve explained why you need a new home, you should explain why you want this home specifically. This is particularly important if the seller has done extensive renovations. Highlighting specific details makes sellers feel good about the design or functional choices they’ve made over time. If the seller renovated the kitchen, explain how you love to cook and can’t wait to work in the beautiful space. A few well-worded compliments can go a long way.
Reiterate how excited you would be to own this home. Explain that to you, this is more than just a dream house — it actually feels like it could be home. And, as you would with any offer or application, make sure to thank the seller for their time, and consideration.
If you’re ready to start looking for a new home, or are thinking about selling, we can help you find the right real estate agent to guide you through the process. Schedule a time to discuss anything and everything with the Properly team.