In a competitive housing market, you’re probably willing to do whatever it takes to sweeten your offer so you can get your dream home.

During the process, don’t underestimate the power of the personal letter — the letter you write to let a seller know more about yourself and the offer you’re making. A good personal letter can help make your offer shine — but a poorly crafted letter can also weaken it.

Here are some tips for writing a personal letter to a home seller that can help boost your bid.

  1. FIND COMMON GROUND
    “Have your agent ask questions about the seller so that you can tailor your letter accordingly,” advises Alicia Stoughton, a real estate agent and designer at Keller Williams Realty in Cincinnati. For example, if the sellers raised their family in the home, emphasize how much you would love your kids to grow up there. If you notice the seller loves certain hobbies or sports teams, throw those details into your letter. Emphasizing commonalities can help a seller see themselves in you.

  2. ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE
    If your bid is a little under asking price, don't call that out in a personal letter. The best approach is to focus on the pros of your offer.

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    Ask yourself what the seller’s motivations are besides price, Stoughton suggests. Every seller is looking for a smooth transaction, for instance, so put them at ease by letting them know you’ll be easy to work with: “We’re not going to go overboard with home inspection repair requests," or “We’re prioritizing a quick closing.” These kinds of details may appeal to a seller who is an investor, as they’ll care more about an efficient sale over a sentimental one.

  3. FLATTERY HELPS
    Compliments can go a long way, so let your enthusiasm shine. Focus on your favorite attributes of the home. Maybe that’s waxing poetic about a seller’s stunning flowerbeds or praising their beautifully remodeled kitchen. Let the owner know how much you appreciate the work they put in.

  4. KEEP IT SHORT
    Unless you’re writing something really compelling, shorter is better. “Just five or six sentences, in my experience, works well,” Stoughton says. After all, people have short attention spans — especially sellers who are reviewing more than one offer, which is happening a lot: A recent Redfin report says that more than 60 percent of homes faced bidding wars.

  5. PROOF YOUR WORK
    Always have your agent proofread your letter. “I edit most letters, because I know from experience how a letter should be crafted,” Stoughton says. Having a second set of eyes will also help you catch grammatical mistakes or spelling errors.

  6. CONSIDER A HANDWRITTEN LETTER
    Want your offer letter to stand out? Handwrite it. It only takes a few minutes to put pen to paper, and it shows you put in extra thought and care. (Just make sure to drop it off, rather than mail it, if you’re on a tight timetable.)

    No matter how you deliver the letter, remember to close by reiterating your genuine interest in the home and thanking the seller for their consideration — politeness and sincerity always leave a good last impression.

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