How effective is it for your buyers to write a personal letter to sellers to win over their hearts and get their offers accepted? Personal letters have been drawing criticism lately because of the potential for buyers to inadvertently reveal items that could hurt their negotiating position. Virginia real estate pro Daniel Bortz recently shared in a realtor.com® article some of the phrases he suggests buyers never use in an offer letter, including:
- “I can see our family celebrating Christmas here.” It is illegal under the federal Fair Housing Act for a seller to discriminate based on religion. But if a buyer reveals their faith in an offer letter, it would be difficult to prove in court that it led to discrimination, Craig Blackmon, a broker and real estate attorney in Seattle, told realtor.com®. To prevent such potential for discrimination, Blackmon recommends that buyers never reveal their religion in an offer letter.
- “We would do anything to get this house.” Bortz writes that buyers should never suggest they are desperate to buy the home in an offer letter. It tells the seller that the buyer is willing to pay a higher price and could encourage a higher counteroffer.
- “Our lease is up soon, so we really need to close quickly.” This could hurt negotiations with a seller who is looking for a longer closing timeline. Also, this statement could weaken the buyer’s negotiating power if the seller senses desperation. Buyers may need to be reminded that real estate agents will communicate with the listing agent to find out the seller’s intentions for a move-out date.
- “Your home’s fenced-in backyard will be a perfect place for my dog to run around.” This could turn off a seller who isn’t a pet lover. Bortz cautions buyers specifically against mentioning their dog’s breed since there are some stigmas around certain types, such as pit bulls. “Even though the sellers will be moving, they may be concerned about their neighbors’ safety,” Bortz writes. On the other hand, if you happen to know the seller loves dogs, mentioning your pet in the personal letter may actually help form a connection between the buyer and seller, Mindy Jensen, a real estate professional in Longmont, Colo., told realtor.com®.