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Real Estate Agents: Beware of Offer Letters as Emotional Bait

July 29 2021

iguide girl writing letter home concept Emotions run high when you put a seller's house for sale. To them, it's not just a house, not just some brick and mortar sitting on a piece of dirt somewhere in the city or municipality. Whether your seller has lived in their house for one year or 50, it is a home filled with memories and paid for with a good portion of their annual income.

So the next time you list a property for sale, consider the journey the seller has been on and how you can ease their separation anxiety. Is encouraging a buyer to write a personal home purchase offer letter to the seller a good idea?

Being an agent often requires more than just great real estate marketing ideas, complete with virtual tours and interactive floor plans. You are the consumer's connection to the current market, an expert in your field, and the facilitator of the sale. Statistics show that a personal offer letter written by a potential buyer can affect the seller's decision to accept one offer to purchase in real estate over another. This type of correspondence is often referred to as a "love letter" with the intent of tugging at the owner's heartstrings in order to stand out among competing offers. The humanizing factor can help ease some of the emotional anxiety the seller experiences, but there are other ways to keep your seller's personal memories intact without endorsing what may be seen as discrimination.

Separation anxiety

Real estate transactions are about traversing the path alongside your seller to help with the sale and the unexpected emotions that often accompany the separation of loving homeowners and their abode. A buyer's home purchase offer letter may allow the seller a small glimpse into the life of the new owner, but it won't take the seller down memory lane. Easing the seller's separation anxiety is difficult, but a great way to help them keep those memories is by using 3D virtual tours and accurately detailed floor plans of their existing home. Not only are these prop-tech tools excellent for marketing a residence, but they can help your seller when making the decision to sign away their home to a stranger. A permanent file filled with real estate photos, virtual tours, and interactive floor plans will allow the seller to reminisce in the years to come. The buyer benefits by having accurate measurements and the tools to perform any upcoming renovations they may want to perform.

Competition and multiple offers

In a seemingly unstoppable real estate market, properties continue to receive multiple offers. Some homes are selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars over the asking price. Competition is high and emotions are even higher. How can you help your buyer compete when listings are seeing all the offers to purchase that real estate agents can handle? Ultimately, the seller wants to get the best price for their home and with the least amount of hassle. An almost sure way to win the bid is to submit an offer well above the listed price after thoroughly examining the virtual tours and floor plans. If you lose out to a higher bidder, you have followed procedure to the letter. Speaking of which, would an offer letter have swayed the seller to choose your purchase contract over the winning one? Perhaps, but submitting a personally written letter from the buyer along with the contract could open you up to not-so-loving letters of reprimand from your local real estate board or, worse, a discrimination lawsuit.

Love, letters, liability

The buyer's home purchase offer letter is a passionate attempt to grab the seller's attention. A sort of coercing the seller to "pick me" as the new owner of a property. Of course, the intent behind the letter is to introduce the buyer to the seller in hopes they will "approve" the new owner of their home. But you have to consider there is a fair amount of liability involved with these so-called "love letters." It is never a good idea for you to include a letter like this along with an offer. It can be seen as an unfair method under the Fair Housing Act that discriminates against other potential buyers. Of course, you cannot prevent the buyer from taking the matter into their own hands and submitting the story of their wanton desire for the seller's home. In any case, it is not so much buyer beware, but buyer's agent beware.

Connect and protect

As a real estate agent, it is up to you to perform your fiduciary duties including reasonable care, confidentiality, and loyalty to protect the interests of both the seller and buyer. These duties include offering the best possible way to get a property sold by providing accurate information included in your real estate marketing plan. Connecting with buyers can be done using the proptech tools at your disposal. 3D video tours and precise square footage measurements are a must and are some of the best ways to help a buyer form an emotional attachment to a property. When it is a connection to the seller they are seeking, there is no better way than to make a fair offer to purchase real estate based on the factual information that affects the value of the property.

Homebuyers will likely still want to engage in writing personal love letters to try to win a bidding war in one of the hottest real estate markets in years. As a Realtor, playing matchmaker is your role when introducing buyers to sellers' properties—but perhaps leave the flirtatious correspondence out of negotiations.