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Homebuying Success: Cover Letter Saves Family $11,000

Personal letters can be a great way to stand out from the pack and get the house you want for a reasonable price. This story shows the power of the pen.

  • Let’s Talk about Hockey
  • The Value of Personal Letters
  • Tips for Your Note
  • Speeding Up Homebuying

Let’s Talk about Hockey

“The pen is mightier than the sword.” – Edward Bulwer-Lytton

A house search can get incredibly tiring and frustrating. After six months looking for a home in Northern Virginia, Greg and Alison Fitzgerald were starting to feel burnt-out.

It wasn’t an issue of there not being enough available homes. It was that many of the houses were selling almost immediately or accrued several offers quickly. Two of the homes they liked had already sold before they even had a chance to get inside.

Finally understanding the fierce competition, Alison decided she would make every effort to become friendly with the seller of a home she new they wanted. When Alison saw that the sellers were fans of the Washington Capitals, she saw a great point of connection.

Alison wrote her personal explanation of how the house would impact her family, mentioning the great neighborhood, schools, and the large backyard of the house. “We have a baby boy who is about to turn 1 year old,” she wrote. “We can already see him playing in that big back yard with our dog!” She also mentioned that her family also followed the Capitals and even attached a photo of their 11-year-old son at one of the games.

The Fitzgeralds may have written a compelling letter, but they still did not have the home. In fact, they were one of five offers on the table. A few days later, they were informed by their agent that they had landed it, even beating out an offer that was $11,000 more than theirs.

When they moved in, there was a bottle of champagne and a kids’ banner set out for them – proof that finding a sense of connection is critical.

The Value of Personal Letters

Many people are writing this type of letter simply to make themselves more memorable with sellers. A good letter raises your chances of winning when more than one offer is on the table by nearly 10%, according to a study by real estate brokerage Redfin.

Colorado Re/Max agent Anthony Rael recommends to his clients that they write letters much like the one written by the Fitzgeralds. “I don’t see where it hurts,” he says. “It gives a lot of weight to your offer and really shows intent.”

Actually, it doesn’t just show you are serious about buying the house. It provides a personal aspect to something that can be complicated and tedious, the transfer of the largest piece of property most people own.

Think about it from the seller perspective. Yes, they have to find a new place to live. Yes, they have to market their house and negotiate a deal with whoever is buying it. Finally, they’ve got another huge project: moving – something that is not exactly considered relaxing. In fact, HealthStatus lists moving as one of the top five most stressful life events. Making the situation a bit friendlier with a personal letter can relieve stress.

Tips for Your Note

Here are four tips for your letter:

1. Focus on what you have in common.

Benjamin and Tanya Larson-Topp had been trying to find a house in Chicago for a couple of months when they found one that was perfect for them. The buyers had two major things in common with the sellers: they both had daughters named Eliana, and both of the buyers were alumni of the same school that one of the sellers attended.

”We both went to SSA [the University of Chicago’s Social Service Administration college],” Tanya confided in her letter. “What could be better than a couple of social workers living in your old house?”

They landed the home and even received a letter from the sellers saying that they were excited about them becoming the new owners.

  1. Be emotional.

By getting personal, you can show the seller that you are just looking to invest – and that can help, because investors are notorious for backing out of deals.

  1. Be concise and upbeat.

Don’t talk about what has gone wrong in your home search. That can come across as weak or desperate. Plus, don’t go overboard and write five pages. Just connect.

  1. Consider making a video instead.

Do you feel uncomfortable writing a letter? You can skip it altogether and instead make a video. California agent John Venti has made 10 videos with his most recent clients, and they have closed on their houses more than half of the time.

Speeding Up Homebuying

Hopefully these tactics will help you succeed when you need a strong cover letter.

Since it can take so long to make a deal on a house and actually walk in the door with your new keys, it’s critical to speed up every part of the process that you can. At, we offer the quickest way to search for new homes, realtors, local market stats, community amenities, school ratings, and more. Get started.

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