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First you decide to stop renting and buy a home. Then, you research for months — maybe years — until you find the perfect place. And then, you get thiiiiis close to securing your dream home only to learn that other buyers are trying to snatch it up from right under you. So goes the American Dream, right?
Other than pouring as much money as you can into your offer, there’s one major no-cost way to up your chances of winning. Allow us to introduce you to The Personal Letter.
According to data from Redfin, writing a personal cover letter to the home seller is the No. 3 best way to increase your chances of winning a bidding war, a move that improved a buyer’s odds by 52%. The No. 2 factor for success was waiving a financing contingency, or saying you’ll close on the home regardless of the loan you secure, which increased a bid’s likelihood of acceptance by 58%. Unsurprisingly, money talks — an all-cash offer essentially doubled the chance.
For the rest of us, penning a personal letter can be a low-risk, low-cost way to turn the bidding war in your favor (not to mention add some warmth to the stressful transaction). An effective letter is as simple as a one-page message about why you love the home, why you’d be an easy buyer to work with, and what the house means to you, says Chris Dossman, a real estate agent in Indianapolis. Whether you see yourself growing your family in this house, or you’re eager to volunteer and serve the surrounding community, this is the place to get that message across.
“You’re trying to evoke an emotional response, so talk from the heart,” says Pennsylvania real estate agent Seth Lejeune.
On the flipside, the Redfin data found that waiving the inspection contingency and pre-inspection didn’t do much to move the needle in the face of high competition. Of course, you’ll likely want to discuss the best strategy for your situation with a real estate agent, who can offer other tips for a successful negotiation. But in addition to breaking out the checkbook, it might be time to break out the fancy stationery, too.