Homebuyer how-to: writing an offer letter that will get you the house

Here's one of real estate's not-so-dirty secrets: Most of the time, accepting an offer is about so much more than the bottom line. These days, especially in competitive markets, buyers need to do whatever they can to make there offer stand out and feel little less transactional.

One way that they can do that is by writing a killer offer letter.

Whether you’ve been house hunting for a while or just started looking, read on for some tips and examples on how to write an offer letter that will win sellers over and hopefully get you your new house.

With any luck, they’ll come in handy when the time is right for you.

1. Be complimentary

Let's get real: flattery can go a long way.

After all, who doesn’t like to hear nice things about themselves every once in awhile?

Where sellers are concerned, it’s all about hearing that the money and sweat equity that they’ve invested in their home over the years has paid off in a big way.

Put simply, make sure you tell them what you loved about the home.

Tell them how you felt when you walked through on your showing (especially if you were certain that the home was meant for you), and what it was that sold you on the property.

If you’re lucky, some of those details will also hold a soft spot in the sellers’ hearts.

2. Connect with the seller personally

Most of us are emotionally attached to our homes. It’s a good bet that your sellers will be, too.

Even if they’re moving for an exciting reason like a new job or to be closer to family, it’s likely that a part of them will be nostalgic or have FOMO about leaving the home they’ve known for so long.

Knowing that they can hand it over to someone similar, who has the same background, values, or vision for the property can help ease that transition.

Have your agent do some recon on the sellers:

  • How long have they lived there?
  • Did they raise their children in the home?
  • Do they have a similar career or life situation as you?

Figure out what you have in common and play that up in your letter. You don’t have to be identical, but fostering a small connection can help set your offer apart from the crowd.

3. Make it heartfelt, not sappy

Offer letters are meant to be the emotional piece of the package, so you want them to feel anything but business-like.

As you’re putting the letter together, don’t be afraid to add in elements of your personality and to have it come from the heart.

However, if there is one caveat to this advice, it’s not to go too far over-the-top.

Sometimes buyers make the mistake of using overly superfluous language or getting caught up in telling their own sob story.

Moves like these have a tendency to feel like too much of a hard-sell, which can be a turnoff to the home’s current owners and can end up doing you more harm than good.

We suggest having a neutral third-party like your agent or a trusted friend read over the letter to make sure it’s compelling, but not too saccharine.

4. Let them know how serious you are

Put yourselves in the shoes of the seller -- their primary concern is that the offer they accept will actually go through.

The last thing the seller wants is to have a lukewarm buyer who will either pull out of the sale or not deliver.

If you are dead set on making a place yours, let the seller know how willing you are to deliver, whether it's extending a rent-back period, closing quickly, or even something more anecdotal like mentioning roots you already have planted in the neighborhood, such as existing schools, jobs, or family.

These signs help the seller build confidence in you and show that you are making a legitimate, real offer on their house.

5. Keep it short (AKA less than a page)

Remember the value of editing.

When sellers sit down with their agent to go over the offers they’ve received, it’s a long process -- especially if multiple people are interested in the property.

The last thing that they’ll want to do is sift through a multi-page letter to try and figure out why exactly you think you’re the right candidate to buy their home.

The best chance that you have to make sure your letter gets read is to keep it short, sweet, and to-the-point.

A few paragraphs should do, and you definitely don’t need more than a page.

It's worth doing a couple rounds of revisions in order to ensure that your final letter is both clear and concise.

Examples of winning offer letters

  1. An offer from a young family paints a warm picture as to why this home would be perfect for them:
    Offer letter for family
  2. This letter starts with a personal connection to the seller and then focuses on preserving the home's existing charm:
    Offer letter for young professional

Found 'the one'? Create an offer with Open Listings, and get access to our offer letter generator tool to get those creative writing juices flowing in case you get stuck.