Friday, January 15, 2016 / by Jen Koenig
I recently went through this experience myself. My husband and I are in the process of buying our very first home! And we found a condo well within our budget. Based on all of the projected costs, we're basically going to be spending $50 more a month than we do now on our tiny studio apartment and in return we get three times the space! So just as a side note - if you haven't committed to buying yet, check out a rent vs buyer calculator and then see what homes are available in your price range. For us, it's well worth it. Anyway, when we found the condo, we immediately knew it was the one for us. It has a nice, big kitchen, a finished basement, laminate flooring, and even a little fenced yard for our dog to run around in! After we factored in our transportation and location needs, we realized that there was no other unit on the market that better fit our wants and needs. We put in our offer.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that this condo had been on the market for almost 4 months, someone else put a bid in at the same time. Apparently, it was a very good offer. Ours was a good offer too, but we needed a very far out closing date and had some other unusual circumstances that made our offer a riskier choice for the seller. BUT when push came to shove, our offer was the one that was accepted. And we found out afterwards that it had nothing to do with our price or the fact that I work for a Realtor. The thing that swayed the owner to take our offer was our buyer home letter.
I've included a link below so that you can check out some do's and don't of writing a buyer home letter yourself. In addition, here are some things to consider:
- BE HONEST! In the letter we wrote, we talked about all of the things we truly loved about the home. We also talked about the happy feeling we got when we walked in there. There was another condo for sale in the same association, and it not only had the exact same layout, it was staged beautifully (the condo we're buying was vacant). However, we just didn't get the same feeling about that condo. The condo we're buying has just the right mix of sunny, open, and homey for us. And we let the owner know all of that in the home letter.
- BE OBSERVANT! One thing I've noticed over the years is that when we have a home that is a tough sell, the buyers usually have very similar personalities and interests to the sellers. It's been downright eerie in some cases. Regardless, when you're walking through the home, look for anything that might provide some common ground with the seller and be sure to mention it in your letter. For example, there was a "Beware of Dog" sticker on the condo gate of the property we're purchasing. I was confident that the seller would understand how having a yard for our 50lb, very excitable rescue dog would be a major priority for us and that she would probably be able to relate. So I made sure to include that in the letter. So if you see something that indicates a common interest, if you see finishes and touches that you love, or even if it's something as simple as explaining why a 3 car garage is a priority for you, be sure to include it.
- DON'T REMODEL! This is a point made in the article I've linked, and it's an important one. No seller wants to hear how you plan on changing everything in their home. Most people form an emotional attachment to their home. Of course they do; it's such a big part of their life! So no one wants to hear how you're going to change things, because what you're really saying is "Here's what's wrong with your home." My husband and I plan on changing the paint colors, putting in a kitchen island, and completely re-doing the yard. But we of course didn't tell the sellers that in our letter.
Most people don't write buyer letters, but I strongly recommend it. Not only did it have an impact in my own buying experience, but I've seen firsthand the impact it has on the homes our agents help buy and sell. In this competitive market, you want to to anything you can to make your offer stand out, and this is an easy (and free!) way of doing just that.
Check out this link for more do's and don'ts! http://www.realtor.com/advice/top-10-tips-how-to-write-a-home-buyers-offer-letter-to-a-seller/