P.S.: I Love Your House

Writing a love letter can give you an edge in the multi-offer real estate universe

No matter what time of year it is, the housing market in California is hot—especially in the Bay Area, where prospective buyers submit offers that are tens of thousands of dollars over the asking price to beat out the competition. In spite of the high prices, homes are selling within days.

In short, if you’re a day late or a dollar short, you can miss out.

So what can you do to keep you hand in the housing game?

Write a love letter. Pouring your heart out to the seller while throwing in a little flattery has become an unofficial requirement in Bay Area real estate transactions these days.

According to Zillow, 75 percent of Oakland homes sold for more than asking last year with a median of $51,000 over the listed price. Also last year, 72 percent of homes in San Jose sold above their asking price with a median of $50,000 over and in San Francisco, 69 percent sold above asking with a median of $155,000 over.

Although over-the-top bidders and all-cash transactions can turn a seller’s head, the promise of someone loving and caring for a cherished home sometimes wins out over the bottom line.

Realty love letters have always been in play, however, the competition has taken it to a new art form. Realty websites Trulia and Redfin offer templates and tutorials, and love can be professed via all modes of communication: letters from kids and adults, videos, artwork, songs, photos—creative is king. On March 25, SF Gate reported that a Berkeley couple just snagged the home of their dreams by wooing the sellers with a triple adoration consisting of a letter, a song, and a drawing from their daughter.

If you do decide to write a love letter, RedFin offers these suggestions:

Format your letter to make it stand out
Chances are, you’re not the only one writing a letter—make it stand out with a good font, nice design and formatting.

Tell the sellers what you love about the house
The sellers already know you want the house—they want to know why you want it. What features are important to you? What do you like most about the home? Use a little flattery.

Make personal connections
You’ve toured the house; what do you have in common with the seller? Do they have dogs or cats? Are you both Giants fans? Did you notice a hobby you both share? Find a common interest and build a bond with the seller. It’s an easy way to make yourself more relatable, and will also show that you’re not sending the same generic letter with every offer you submit.

Leave a hard copy for the sellers
Hard copy shows you care. If you send your letter through email, you run the risk of it going to spam or being quickly buried beneath other emails. Redfin agents recommend leaving a hard copy of the letter behind if you know the sellers still live there or that there are no other showings after you (other agents might remove it).

Also, make sure your realtor is licensed and in good standing by checking with the California Bureau of Real Estate.

And you thought all of those English classes you took would never come in handy.

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