The Chicago Tribune ran an article last week about how home buyers can sweeten an offer with a love letter to the seller. Love letter is an expression used to describe an emotional appeal from the home buyer to the seller in an offer letter to earn an advantage in the bidding process. The letter would typically give some personal information about the buyers, meant to tug at the heart strings of the seller, and it would also express what the buyers really like about the house.
It sounds like a really corny idea but some real estate agents swear by it, pointing out that selling a home can be an extremely emotional experience for a home seller. So if you can appeal to that emotion then maybe you can save a few bucks or come out ahead in a multiple bid situation.
My assumption has always been that it's all about the money since that's all I would care about if I were selling a home. And you would think that a seller could see right through a letter like that. Consequently, I have never recommended that a buyer client write such a sappy letter and I certainly wouldn't advise a seller to pay any attention to it.
Actually, that's not entirely true. There was this one time. Weirdest deal I have ever been involved in.
We were bidding against one other buyer and his agent and he were both acting like complete jerks. They both managed to really piss off the sellers and the listing agent even though they were offering a bit more money than my buyer was willing to pay. The buyer went around both agents directly to the seller and tried to pressure them to take his offer. Meanwhile, his agent, one of those egotistical top producers, tried to intimidate the listing agent. And to make matters even better my buyer was a really nice guy (as was his agent).
It became clear that the sellers were getting emotional about the whole process and were willing to give us some credit for being nice guys. I began to suspect that we might benefit from one of those love letters so I prepared my buyer for the concept. Not surprisingly, he felt it was an odd idea. However, we didn't need to debate the concept very hard because it wasn't too long before the listing agent made it clear that such a letter would really help. My buyer wrote the letter and we got the deal done.
There was actually one other time when my wife and I did something similar. We bought a house many years ago in Richmond, Virginia (great city, BTW) and after we moved in we realized that the sellers had walked off with some oven components - probably by accident in the moving process. The only shot we had at getting them to send us the components was to make an emotional appeal. So we wrote them a letter about how much we were enjoying the house and the flowers they had planted and oh, BTW, could they send us the missing parts?
They ignored us.
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