Boston area home buying is competitive. Jockeying for position has some purchasers using a bold new tactic: personal letters sent to the seller of the home they want. Let’s look at why this phenomenon exists –- and whether it’s right for you.
Boston Area Home Buying Becomes Personal
Most real estate agents agree it’s rare today for buyers and sellers to meet during the home buying process. We live in a society of texting, emailing and shrinking personal engagement. However, when a seller receives a heartfelt, impassionate letter from a buyer it “humanizes” that person in the seller’s eyes. Such a letter is often accompanied by the ages of their children – even a family photo. It’s all designed to tug at the seller’s heartstrings in the hope their offer will be accepted over others vying for the same house.
Agents say while these efforts don’t always work, there are some sellers who are swayed. Home sellers form a strong emotional bond to their homes and like the idea of selling to someone that will feel the same way. Sellers who’ve raised a family in the home have a strong sense of attachment and can be influenced by a buyer who also has a family.
However, some home sellers make decisions purely on financial or economic reasons. They’re the ones looking for the highest offer, the greatest likelihood of credit approval and quickest loan closing. Still, agents say, every seller is different. Sellers sometimes make decisions not based on financial issues but emotional reasons. Some sellers actually accept a lower offer and turn down a fast closing date because they identified with their buyer.
In today’s Boston area home buying market, usually the two most important factors to consider are price and terms. If a home buyer can’t make those two items pleasing to the seller, a deal probably won’t get made, and an emotional appeal will have little bearing. There are exceptions, though, and some agents cite cases where a seller rejected a higher offer from an investor who planned to rent the property in favor of a family who planned to live there.
Consider the following as to whether the letter-writing tactic may work for you.
Can you offer a price that will get the seller’s attention? If so, your family may have an advantage if you can convince the seller that you will be “faithful stewards” of their home.
Will the terms work for the seller? The loan closing date, any contingencies or other parts of the contract may matter to the seller as much as the sales price. Have you met that criteria? If not, then the emotional aspect of the deal may not mean as much as you hope.
Have you done everything you can to convince the seller that you have every intention of closing the deal? Get pre-approved for a mortgage and make sure you have all the necessary down payment and closing costs available.
Are you making a large enough down payment? In the seller’s eyes it’s an indication of the buyer’s financial strength. A small down payment may be worrisome and may lead to other questions about whether to accept your offer.
Are you prepared for any potential surprises a home inspection may reveal? If there are issues important enough to restart negotiations, the seller may want to find out how emotionally interested you are in order to reach a agreeable solution if there’s a problem.
Tread lightly if you really want the home. Remember the market is competitive. That’s why you considered writing an emotional appeal in the first place. The seller probably has back-up contracts – or at least options to consider – if you hesitate or fail to meet your end of the deal.
For more Boston area home buying tips, check out our other articles in the Home Buying section to your right just below Boston Real Estate Categories. And be sure to look us up on Twitter and Facebook.