If you're bidding on a house that didn't receive any other offers, the seller will most likely give your offer strong consideration, especially if he’s motivated and ready to move. As long as your offer is reasonable and far, you’re practically guaranteed the house. But it's a different story when there are multiple offers on the table.
Your odds of getting a house are reduced when competing with other buyers. There is, however, a technique to grab the seller’s attention and possibly win the bidding war.
Writing an offer letter and including this letter with your bid may sway a seller’s decision in your favor—even if the amount you offer is less than what another bidder offers. But for this approach to work, you have to know important components of a good offer letter.
1. Highlight what you love about the house
When writing an offer letter to a seller, you should highlight features about the house you find desirable. The seller probably spent years in the home raising a family, so there's likely an emotional attachment. Connect with the seller and acknowledge the hard work put into the home. Briefly mention a few items you love whether it's the decor, recent upgrades, etc. Be genuine and likable.
It also helps if the seller knows a little personal information about you, but you don’t have to get too personal. Just provide a short explanation of why you chose this particular house over other homes. For example, maybe you grew up in this neighborhood and you want to return to an area that’s comfortable and familiar. Or maybe the home reminds you of your childhood home and you think it’ll be a wonderful place to raise your children. Then again, perhaps you have grandchildren in the area and the home’s location is within close proximity to your family. Whatever the reason, share this with the seller and let him know you're the right person for the home.
2. Don’t mention any plans about remodeling the house
The majority of home sellers realize that new owners will make changes to the property, which might include major renovations or remodeling projects. But just because a seller knows you’ll make the property your own doesn't mean he wants to hear about your plans. The seller could have invested thousands of dollars to fix up the property in recent years, so he doesn’t want to hear about your plans to undo his work. Even if your plans include tearing down walls and completely gutting the inside, keep these plans to yourself and don’t mention them in your letter.
3. Discuss your ability to afford the home
It's always best to have a pre-qualification letter included with your offer. This way, the seller knows you can afford the property. But even with a pre-qualification letter, it doesn't hurt to include a brief blurb in your offer letter reminding the seller that you have financing in place and you're prepared to close within a reasonable timeframe. This might sway the decision in your favor if the seller needs to move rather quickly.
4. Do you have anything in common?
You can also mention anything you might have in common with the seller. As you walk through the house, take notice of family photos. Maybe the seller has two daughters and you also have two daughters. Or maybe the seller is a pet lover and you have a few four-legged friends. You can include information about your family in the letter to find a common ground. For example, you could say something along the lines of, “I also have children and many pets and I feel your home is a perfect fit for our family. We welcome the opportunity to build memories in your home.”
5. Promise to take care of the house
A seller who put his heart and soul into a home, and took pride in the property wants to relinquish the home to someone who’ll show just as much care and consideration to its upkeep. Therefore, you can promise to maintain and keep the home in great condition—whether you actually follow through is up to you. This inclusion may seem like a minor addition, but the statement can have a tremendous impact.
6. Keep it short
You want your letter to be compelling and thorough, but you don’t want to come off as pushy or overwhelm the seller with pages upon pages. Keep your letter short, less than one page.