Buying a House: The Offer Letter

“We’d like to make your house our home.”

My husband and I are currently in the process of selling our house and buying a new one. We did this once before, almost exactly five years ago. Things are a bit different this time around. Instead of moving across states, we’re just moving across the highway. Instead of coordinating a move with two cats and one toddler, we’re managing a move with one cat and two kids. Oh and of course, dealing with the added stress of an ongoing global pandemic.  

Let’s put the whole pandemic thing aside for a minute and focus on the somewhat significant act of moving. The emotional journey that one takes when saying goodbye to a familiar home that provided a backdrop for years worth of memories and saying hello to a strange, unsettled new house. Insert your favorite cheesy “house vs home” quote here. You get the point. While a move may be something desired or needed, it comes with a lot of emotions attached.

Going through the process of touring houses and preparing ours for sale, it occurred to me just how impersonal buying and selling a house really is. You rarely get to see or meet the new people who are buying your house or the ones selling theirs to you. I suppose this is done by design for a variety of reasons, but it still feels odd.  

That’s why when I heard about the offer letter phenomenon, I was somewhat shocked that it’s a thing. It feels like a breach of the unspoken rule that buyer and seller must remain strangers who are only known to exist by signatures in countless dotloop documents. Yet, it seems writing a letter has become an added push buyers use to get the house they so desperately want. A last plea to the sellers to “Pick me! Pick me!”

So I did it. I wrote the letter. We knew we wanted the house before we even stepped foot inside of it. We needed that house; it had to be ours. If writing a personal letter would give our offer even the slightest edge, then I was all over it.

Perhaps, like myself, you’re wondering what exactly you should put in a “Dear Owner” letter. Here are my tips:

  1. Give an intro about who you are—if you have kids, plan to have kids, have any pets—and why you’re moving if it plays a role in the house you’re putting an offer on (job change, outgrowing current space, etc). Feel free to throw in a family photo or two as well!
  2. Tell them exactly why you NEED their home. Is it in your dream neighborhood? Do you have friends/family nearby? Do you love the local schools? Perhaps you’ve always craved the land/outdoor space that the home will provide. What sets that house apart from all the others you’ve looked at…make it specific to the house!
  3. If you’re comfortable, don’t shy away from stating your career(s) and financial stability. Especially in current times, it is vital for a seller to know that you won’t be losing your job or suddenly be financially strapped prior to closing and that you’ll come through with the money as promised. Find a way to give them the assurance that when it comes to the financing side of the deal, you’re good to go.
  4. Play up the sap. Tell the owners how you can’t wait to host holidays and birthdays in the home and make memories that will last a lifetime. Maybe you’ll eventually be bringing home a baby to this house or can’t wait to have fire pits out back with friends. Whatever it is to help them see your vision will help. Let them know you’ll love the house just as much as they did.
  5. If you have any personal knowledge of the sellers and why they’re moving, have common friends, know their neighbors, or anything that you feel will set you apart and give your offer a more personal feel, then go ahead and add that in!
  6. Finally, have your agent (or another person experienced in residential real estate if you’re not using one) look over your letter. 

In the end, we got the house. Now, no one actually SAID it was because of the letter, but we all know it had to be. Perhaps the sellers liked the idea of leaving a house they had turned into a home in the hands of someone who would do the same. It’s a nice thought to have as you say goodbye to a house you loved so much. I hope to do the same with ours.

 

Stephanie lives in Shawnee with her husband and two crazy redheaded children, Jack (7) and Allison (4). When she’s not working full time as an aviation meteorologist, or trying to stop her kids from fighting, she enjoys running, knitting, attempting to bake, cheering on the Huskers (#GBR!), and catching up on her DVR. You'll often find her dragging her kids and husband to breweries around KC in search of the best IPAs the city has to offer. You can follow her day-to-day snippets on Instagram (@stephavey).