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Love Letters and Home Buying

by Shilpi Paul

Love Letters and Home Buying: Figure 1

Have your heart set on a house and want to rise above the competition? Try writing a love letter.

Yesterday, The New York Times reported on a new trend: heartfelt letters from potential buyers to the sellers of a home they are interested in. The article highlighted a Manhattan couple whose love letter won them a home even though their offer came in $8,000 below a competing bid. The couple met in the neighborhood and had dreams of raising their child in the apartment; apparently, the sellers were touched by the story.

While a touching competitive advantage, the Times does share some stories of letters-gone-wrong, like one from a former frat brother waxing nostalgic about the “hot women” from old college parties.

From The Times:

Those who advocate writing letters recommend a few key ingredients, the heartstrings being paramount (if you’re going to talk about children, mention their names), and anything the buyer and the seller might have in common (“You have twins? I have twins!”). Another important element is specificity, which fosters more of a connection between the two parties. “Wow, I love your green bathroom, or that you’re using your fireplace as a sanctuary when you do yoga,” suggested Jessica Buchman, a broker at the Corcoran Group, who recommends letters frequently. “I love that you have a birdbath in the toilet.”

Usually a rational transaction based on numbers and conditions, the buying process generally keeps buyers and sellers as far from each other as possible, channeling communication through their agents and financial documents. This trend marks a humanizing of the process.

Readers, have you heard of anything like this happening in DC?

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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/improve_your_odds_of_closing_the_deal_with_a_letter/5338

4 Comments

  1. mona said at 6:45 pm on Tuesday March 27, 2012:
    Back in the crazy days when all houses had no less then 3 offers, I sold a house on Capital Hill that had 3 offers and a not came with one of the offers. I have to say I took very little notice of the note. One offer came in at asking and no inspections or anything else, one offer came with contingency on sale of other house and rent back for 2 months. One offer came with less then asking and tiny amount down on the house. I can't even remember which one came with a letter. I took the offers on their merit and picked the one with no contingency or inspection. I was selling a house not my children or a dog. Now if I had had equal offers and had to decide between the two the letter could have had an influence.
  1. Marj said at 7:17 pm on Tuesday March 27, 2012:
    As a Sales Manager, I see these love letters all the time. The issue to address is the inherent fair housing violations contained in the letters. Should any seller decide to accept an offer from a nice couple who wants to start a family (based on a letter) vs a single person, a person of color, a gay couple what you have is documented evidence of the discrimination. I recommend against sharing such letters with sellers. In one recent case, a seller who had four offers on a property really wanted to see the letters. Our compromise was that she was able to read every one – after one of the offers on her property was a ratified contract.
  1. Richko said at 12:19 am on Wednesday March 28, 2012:
    What about letters to owners of properties that are not currently for sale? Do owners even bother reading them unless they are planning to sell in the short term anyway?
  1. mona said at 8:40 pm on Wednesday March 28, 2012:
    Wow, I had forgotten about this cause it was so many years ago. I had just purchased a home and the market was crazy at the time. I got a letter in my mailbox one evening along with all my other mail and I didn't pay any attention to it because it was around xmas time and it was in a pretty blue envelope so assumed it was xmas card. Few days later I finally got around to opening the letter expecting to see xmas card. It was a note from someone wishing to buy my home. I guess they had seen it on the internet, gone to an open house and really loved the place but couldn't buy at the time. Didn't tell me at the time why they couldn't. Offered to purchase the house at about 7% over what I had paid for it and other generous notions like cheap rent back while I looked for new home. I never responded because I had only been in the house about 2-3 months. I did read the note though. I didn't want to respond because I thought it would be a little to tempting and they might offer more money.

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