Buyer Letters to Sellers … Pros & Cons

Years ago … in the boomtime, I was representing a seller, and we received several offers on his property. One of the buyers came into my office to drop off the offer (pre-electronic signatures, mind you), and the exchange went something like this:

  • She said, Oh, this is X’s property? I know him! Tell him I’m the secretary at this office. I see him all the time!
  • I told him, and he said something to the effect … Oh, she’s the buyer? I can’t stand her. And he proceeded to take an offer about $3K less*
  • Moral of the story: sometimes humanity is bad.

A letter from a buyer to a seller can make the difference, particularly if there are competing offers. As a buyer’s agent, I often recommend this. As a seller’s agent, I have seen the emotional letter make a difference – seeking connection beyond price and terms.

Sellers often want to sell to a buyer who will love the home as much as they have. If the buyer is a hiker who loves trails, the seller may feel a connection to that buyer versus a buyer who 1) doesn’t share the love or 2) doesn’t convey that.

A letter from one party to the other can humanize the process, and that’s usually a good thing.

I know that I have had buyers win offers, and lose offers because of letters. I have had sellers find letters from buyers to be endearing.

But – what if humanizing is a bad thing?

I was talking to a client last year who was a first time homebuyer, and was doing copious research, as homebuyers do. In her research, she had come across the advice to write a letter humanizing the process.

She posed the question that I’d never before had posed … what if that letter is used to discriminate against the buyer?

It’s a reasonable question.

Discrimination based on people’s names is a thing. On residential purchase contracts, names are already known to all parties – they are printed right there on the contract. Some buyers will add photos of themselves to their letter; I advise my clients to remove photos from their presentation letters. (wedding photos, pictures of or with their dog are cute, but aren’t relevant).

I don’t know if my new thinking is heightened by, the events of 12 August, but this is where we are.

A client recently said to me something to the effect, “there is always a dark side, and all too often humans seek that out.” True.

If we’re going to eliminate the chance for discrimination, the only solution would be to remove names from the contract. I suspect this will never happen.

I know that letters from buyers to sellers are likely to continue. In competitive situations, buyer letters absolutely can have a positive impact.


Thoughts for Buyers Writing Letters

  • Discuss how you would love and use the house and property.
  • Mention how you will enjoy the property
  • If you like trails, and there are trails on the property, use that.
  • If you ride bicycles, and the seller has three bikes in the basement, use that.
  • Don’t include pictures of yourselves.
  • If the sellers are dog people, and you are too, use that.
  • Above all, be genuine, authentic, and nice. In the letter and in life.


*funny aside to this coming in this month’s monthly note.

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