1) Try to get your agent to present it to the seller, but it typically is presented to the seller's agent. Rarely do I do fax/email. In person is always best, but second choice is pdf, third is fax. This is 2007!
2)Very unusual for the buyer to attend
3)Letters are very common and a good idea. Appeal to the emotional side, tell your story. It helps, and it is still VERY common in San Francisco.
2) The buyer usually never attends that meeting because quite honestly thier is no meeting, it usually boils down to price and all the other agent cares about is the offer price.
3) I believe it can be a usefull tactic however your agent must know her market and it some cases this can be a good or bad thing, for example. If you are moving to a small condo complex and your agent submits a photo of you and your family along with a letter of introduction and in the photo you appear to be a large family purchasing a 2 bedroom condo, the seller may have friends living in the unit below that would hate to have a large family living above them. So, your agent should know the area and if a letter would help or hinder you. Personally I use them and they are sucessful. If done correctly it can cause a positive emotional response from the seller.
2. Buyers do not attend the meeting, if there is one. It can be a very emotional time for buyers and sellers and it is best to leave the negotiating to the professionals. An excellent Realtor will keep the negotiations level and reasonable.
3. Letters are a wonderful tool! It can make a difference in the attitude of the seller, because it makes the buyers real people. Pictures of the family can also be a nice touch as well. Don't go overboard with pictures though. They should be casual and "real" and express the love and fun in the family.
This personalized presentation may ultimately win the heart of a seller and/ or the agent if there is any connection felt. It is always more memorable than a fax or email and ensures that the buyer is well represented.
In regards to the letter, I always prepare one as it can never hurt, if written correctly. It often eases the tension during a presentation and be an ice breaker to all parties involved. It allows the seller to have some background info on the buyer and emphasizes their strengths, it cuts down the listing agents time and may demonstrate the buyerâ€™s agents ability to be thorough and on top of things.
It is like a beautifully gift wrapped package or the presentation of an up-scale meal when fine dinning.