"Dear seller" letters back in homebuying
Newlyweds Adam and Molly Sarasins, tired of being beat
by cash investors for homes, submitted a cover letter to a home seller
in Poway to set them apart from the competition. The strategy worked.
â€” Bill Wechter / U-T San Diego
Buying a house these days is like applying for a job.
Opportunities can be scarce and you have a small window of time to make a shining impression.
buyer is engaged to be married and they plan to live in the home after
their marriage," writes a San Diego real estate agent Dave Dennis on
behalf of his client. "Buyer will cover his own closing costs. ... Buyer
will credit seller $5,000 towards sellerâ€™s closing costs!"
buyer) is well qualified to successfully close escrow on your home,"
reads another letter written by Dennis for a separate client. "With
strong income and sufficient assets, we expect the loan portion of the
transaction to be streamlined."
pitches from prospective homebuyers â€” also known as love letters â€” are
re-emerging in hot real estate markets like San Diego and other parts of
Southern California. They often include family photos and strive to
stir the emotions of the seller to give the homebuyer an edge â€”
especially when many bidders are competing for the same property.
The goal is to dazzle sellers and win the deals.
we can do to make us stand out and make our buyer stand out, whether it
works out (or not,) we just want to make our buyer have a little leg up
on their competition,â€ said Patrick Hale, a San Diego real estate
broker who encourages his agents to try different things to help their
clients stand out and close the sale.
love letters, which are included with offers, are not new to the
industry but their resurgence is more proof that the housing market is
on the rebound after a five-year slump.
Diego home values ended 2012 at $366,000, the highest median price
since June 2008. Meanwhile, the housing inventory in San Diego County is
so tight that buyers can get in the middle of bidding wars.
were roughly 4,100 active San Diego County listings in January, the
lowest number in at least 3Â½ years, show numbers from the Greater San
Diego Association of Realtors that start in summer of 2009. While
inventory numbers have ticked up slightly in the past two months, which
is normal for spring, the listing total is still lower than normal.
inventory and increasing home values have pushed potential homebuyer to
do anything extra to help them stand out, something thatâ€™s becoming
more common â€” and possibly more necessary â€” within the past six months,
real estate agents say.
Adam and Molly Sarasin saw the odds stacked against them when they
started searching for their first home last spring. Four months in, they
realized cash buyers were routinely knocking them out of the running.
â€œIt was exhausting,â€ said Adam, 26. â€œWe definitely found that inventory was too low. ... Competition was way too high.â€
Instead of giving in, they tugged at heartstrings. The couple submitted a cover letter, penned by their real estate agent, Hale.
â€œI hope this gives you a good
overview of why Adam and Molly will be the perfect choice for your new
home,â€ says the letter, which ends with a photo of the smiling couple.
letter helped. The Sarasins beat out at least two other offers for the
Poway home. It also helped that they could make a 20 percent down
payment, Hale said.
sellerâ€™s agent, I guess, liked that Molly and I grew up in Poway and
went to high school here and had family in town â€” all of that,â€ Adam
letters share similar characteristics. They tend to describe the buyers,
from their professions to why they like the homes. Good cover letters
also outline clearly what buyers are willing to bring to the table. They
typically state the offer prices and perks for the sellers, such as
cover closing costs, says Dave Dennis, another local real estate agent
who uses cover letters.
â€œYou need to be brief but strong,â€ Dennis said. â€œYou need to stand out amongst a sea of offers.â€
Bernardo-based real estate agent Mike Safiedine has received more cover
letters from buyers and their agents in recent months, an emerging
trend he likes. The cover letters condense the important information
into digestible pieces and saves him and his clientâ€™s time, he said.
on how theyâ€™re presented, the letters can help differentiate
potentially problematic buyers from more organized buyers who show
theyâ€™re on time and ready to close.
gets me to look twice and talk to the sellers (my clients)â€ if the
potential buyer is professional, said Safiedine, who has been in the
business for 16 years.
personal nature of the letters also works, especially on sellers who
have â€œa lot of attachmentâ€ to their properties, Safiedine added.
least one real estate brokerage in San Diego is trying out a more
visual strategy to grab sellersâ€™ attentions: videos. Al Karim Shivji, an
agent at California Real Estate and Mortgage in San Diego, has
self-produced a couple of videos of himself summarizing his buyersâ€™
offers for sellers including some details about himself.
â€œNobody wants to read an essay,â€ Shivji said.
Shivji tries to get the potential buyers to star in the videos themselves but many are camera-shy.
The two videos made so far have been well-received but theyâ€™ve yet to help him close any deals, Shivji said.
though the videos are all less than five minutes, they take almost four
hours to make. Shivji is still deciding if thatâ€™s the best use of his
time and if thereâ€™s a way for him to produce a template to expedite the
he figures that out, Shivji is sticking mainly to the cover letter
strategy and making sure he follows up with sellers for his clients.
Ultimately, itâ€™s about finding a connection between buyers and sellers and â€œmake the process little more human,â€ Shivji said.
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