For many families looking to buy homes in the GTA, the market is daunting. Stories of bidding wars, climbing prices, and offer exhaustion make entering the detached home world difficult for anybody. Standing out from your competition when submitting an offer isn’t always about price. A personable, personalized offer letter can separate you from your faceless and nameless competition.
Writing a great offer letter isn’t easy, though. Here are our best tips for maximizing the medium and hopefully, snagging your dream home.
What An Offer Letter Does
Behind the home you’re looking to buy is a person or a family with unique needs, personalities, worries, and dreams, just like you. Although buying a home is one of the largest and most difficult transactions most people ever undertake, it’s also a human relationship mediated by agents.
What an offer letter does is reframe your relationship to the seller as more than just a financial transaction, and instead as a human interaction. The best offer letters are exactly that: deeply human.
Studies show that people prefer and trust others that are similar to them, and that they know more about. Writing an offer letter with these two things in mind (similarity and personality) can be the difference between an accepted offer and a rejected one.
What An Offer Letter Doesn’t Do
An offer letter is no guarantee of an accepted offer. It also will not let you lowball an offer, especially in Toronto’s current sellers’ market. Offer letters should be seen as an additional tactic to a well-designed buying strategy that can help seal a deal on a dream property.
Alright, now getting to the letter writing!
Find Your Angle
Offer letters are, in a lot of ways, a marketing tactic. You are marketing yourself to the home’s seller in a way that convinces them to accept your offer. A “hook”, or an angle, is key to a memorable offer letter.
Is your family incredibly tight-knit? Have you overcome any recent challenges? Are you world-travelers, scrimp-and-savers, or deeply religious? These memorable factors are important for conveying to sellers who you are and what you value. Make a list of the unique and defining features of your family before you start writing your letter.
Crafting Your Letter
The tone of your letter is just as important, if not more, than your actual content. Here are a few rules to keep in mind when you’re writing your letter:
Be specific: Point out features of the home that you love, and describe how you intend to use them.
Be considerate: As you write about “living” in the house, remember that it is still someone else’s current home. Avoid speaking about it as if it were yours, and instead, go for future-looking language.
Be humble: Try to keep your tone without-expectation, and don’t demand or be pushy about your offer.
Be bold: Or, more specifically, be boldly yourself. Don’t be afraid to put off a seller who may be politically or religiously different from you; your letter is about fostering a real, human connection, and your personal struggles are important to who you are and have become.
Be brief: Your letter should be short enough to tell a humanizing story, give details about the home that you love, while not being over one or two pages. Be considerate of the seller’s time.
The Finer Details
Paper or e-mail? “Sincerely” or “Regards”? Sometimes, the little details make a big difference.
Sign off in a way that feels right
Did you meet the seller in person? Might you again? Then signing off with “talk to you soon” may make more sense. If you have never met the seller and aren’t likely to, then a simple “thank you” or “sincerely” is a better choice.
Pictures are great
Include a single picture of your family (including any beloved pets or family members that you mentioned in your letter!) in the post script of your note. A happy family photo adds depth to your letter better than anything else, and it puts a human face on the transaction from that moment on.
Print off your letter, put it in an envelope, and mail it or hand-deliver (in Toronto, we’d recommend the latter, since sales happen so fast) to the seller. Don’t stick around, just drop off the letter and go. Using nice stationery shows that you went the extra mile for this one home in particular, and it makes the letter feel that much more personal to the seller.
You can handwrite, too
If you have neat, legible handwriting, you can handwrite your note too. Just make sure you write a draft first so you can edit before delivering it.
Brainstorm with your family, and enjoy the process. While writing an offer letter (and, if we’re being honest, the entire real estate buying process!) may be a bit emotionally exhausting, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.
Need More Buying Strategies?
If your letter wasn’t enough for your offer to be accepted, talk to your real estate agent about steps for next time. Offer letters are just one tactic in a list of Realtor strategies for nabbing your dream home in a sellers’ market, and so they may have suggestions for next time. If you have any questions about offer letters or buying real estate in Toronto, we’d love to help. Contact us today!