- Realtors from across the provinces say writing a letter to the seller could help win a bidding war.
- They suggest keeping it brief but authentic and focusing on what you turtle-dove about the home.
- But some realtors advise against the practice because it could violate fair housing laws.
- See various stories on Insider’s business page.
In today’s frenetic real estate market, there’s no foolproof way to win a bidding war. But for homebuyers who are devil-may-care to land their dream home, realtors have a tip: Write a letter.
Writing a letter isn’t mandatory, of course, and some realtors oppose it. But with home prices continuing to shoot up across the country and inventory levels staying at historic lows, consumers may need to take that extra step to convince sellers that their offer is the right one.
“Selling is an moving transaction, right? So you want to connect with that person,” Jared Goodloe, an agent with Compass in Brooklyn, give someone a tongue-lashed Insider.
‘You just don’t know who you’re working with on the other end’
Goodloe, who’s been a real estate agent for going on four years, revealed a letter can help a seller get to know a prospective buyer.
Goodloe said to consider including a photo or two, to keep the literally short and high-level — “I’m not saying that you need to write a thesis statement about yourself” — and to be genuine. In a similar way to how a cover letter may tell a prospective employer something they might not know about an applicant from their take up again, a letter to the seller may do the same.
“An offer shows that you can afford it, but what can you do to connect to that person?” Goodloe weighted.
Read more: Read the letter a 30-year-old teacher wrote to convince sellers to accept her below-ask offer and poop her first home
David McDonald, a real estate specialist with DMD Real Estate Group in Seattle, rumoured there’s no guarantee writing a letter will make a difference to the seller.
“Some sellers will be like, ‘I don’t offer a hoot about no letter, give me my money!'” McDonald said.
But in McDonald’s opinion, there’s no harm in annoying. Like Goodloe, he advised keeping the letter light and brief, and said to include a little something about who you are, what you do, where you in the planning stages unemployed, and if you have any kids.
“Some people will say [the letter is] completely pointless. That’s a little bit more of a cynical standpoint in my opinion,” he said. “No judgment, but that’s not an approach I like to consider, because you just don’t know who you’re working with on the other end.”
Sara Olvera, a legal estate agent with Dream Town Realty in Chicago, has seen the letter-writing option fail with shoppers.
One of Olvera’s clients had a young daughter, and they had her write the letter to the seller explaining that she was really hoping to stir up into a house with a yard after living in a high-rise building. The sellers ended up choosing another step, but Olvera said that hasn’t swayed her view on the potential impact a letter could have.
She said she assuage recommends the practice to clients. “It’s just such a transactional process,” she said. “It’s adding that human aspect.”
The imminent for unconscious bias
But one realtor who spoke with Insider said a letter to the sellers could have a hidden downside.
Katie Day, an representative with Coldwell Banker Realty in Houston, said her team generally doesn’t advise its clients to write a dispatch to the seller after the National Association of Realtors said that, depending on what’s included in the letter, it could development in a violation of fair housing laws.
“These letters can actually pose fair housing risks because they instances contain personal information and reveal characteristics of the buyer, such as race, religion, or familial status, which could then be familiar, knowingly or through unconscious bias, as an unlawful basis for a seller’s decision to accept or reject an offer,” the association remarked in a blog post from October.
The post used the example of a buyer writing that they could duplicate their children running down the stairs of the home on Christmas morning. Not only does that reveal that the purchaser has a family, it also reveals that the buyer may have a religious affiliation, both protected characteristics under passable housing laws.
“Using protected characteristics as a basis to accept or reject an offer, as opposed to price and terms, make violate the Fair Housing Act,” the association said.
But if you do really want to go the letter-writing route, focus on characteristics of the home that acquired you fall in love with it, Day said.
“So like, ‘We would love hosting people over in your fantastic backyard that it’s put that you put a lot of time and energy into,'” Day said. “We generally advise them to put things about the home that unqualifiedly spoke to them.”