You've heard the stories from your friends + relatives---"The seller loved us because we wrote a letter & they picked our offer even though we weren't the highest offer!!!"
Yes. I've had it happen. But letters to sellers walk a fine line when it comes to violating Fair Housing Laws. So here's the thing, you can count on me to be as creative as possible to get your offer accepted & that has included letters & videos & more! One offer I submitted included the offer to design, pro-bono, a website for a charity that the seller founded if the seller accepted my clients offer. They had a very basic website & my client is a skilled designer so we thought it might be a unique addition to the offer to tip in our favor.
Last year, I had two Buyer clients submit a short video to the seller---both offers were accepted! The videos definitely helped, but that's not the whole story. For one of the property's, we offered significantly above the list price, waived the inspections & the appraisal---we literally threw in every favorable contingency possible because my clients were in LOVE with the house--it was their dream house & they didn't want to miss it. The video helped to convince the seller to cancel the open house but, frankly, they really weren't likely to get a better offer.
The other client who submitted a video--that one really did make the difference in getting our offer accepted despite the fact that their purchase would be contingent upon them selling their condo.
So yes, letters or videos to sellers can make a difference. But again, we're skating on thin ice & there's also a very good chance that the Sellers agent isn't going to pass along letters. I make it a policy, when representing a seller, not to submit letters. I'll read them & if there's relevant info pertaining to their job security or financial stability, I may let them know. But often sellers are overwhelmed by the enormity of the process & adding in undue emotional stress isn't helpful---one house one buyer & it's difficult to make emotional connections on top of what really should be a business decision.
That said, some real estate Brokerages will not accept letters to sellers because there have been lawsuits in recent years--it can be a violation of Fair Housing Laws. Oregon actually passed a law banning them & I suspect others will follow. (Here's info to review). If a property is an investment property that has been "flipped" it's highly unlikely that a letter would make any difference---an investor is interested in the bottom line and getting to the closing table as quickly as possible.
Rather than submitting a "love letter" to the seller we need to understand what's important to the seller. Do they need a flexible closing date? Does the listing say 'Subject to Suitable Housing'? Would a screenshot of your credit report help to highlight that your finances are in order? Do you have a substantial amount in your bank account to show that you have proof of funds for your down payment? Have you been solidly employed by the same employer for several years? These are examples of important details that we can discover to craft an offer that gets selected. Some Realtors understand that there is an offer strategy but I can tell you that many don't & THAT is YOUR advantage of choosing to have me on your team!
When crafting an offer I can assure you that I will work to discover the reason the seller is selling, how quickly they want to sell, and what might make our offer stand out--this is what will make a difference! In this market it's going to come down to the offer that offers the most favorable terms for the seller: the best price, the fewest contingencies, & the most likely buyer who be able to get to the closing table without any hiccups. Having your financing in place, understanding the market that you're in & home sales in the areas that you're looking, & understanding the offer/contract process will allow you to be ready to decide what's right for you when working with me to craft an offer that will be accepted.
Buying or Selling? Here's some useful advice!