5 Things You Should Include In Your House Offer Letter, According To A Real Estate Expert

There's no denying that the home-buying process can be extremely stressful. Once you've found your perfect house and decided to put in an offer, you immediately begin worrying about whether or not you'll actually get the property. You may be fearful that the sale will fall through or that you'll be beaten out by other prospective buyers with deeper pockets. It's tempting to do anything you can to increase your odds, and one of the main ways buyers try to appeal to their dream home's seller is through an offer letter. As per The Day, these can help appeal to the seller's emotions and could thus sway them in your direction, even if yours isn't the highest offer on the table.

"There are few things that will make your offer stand out more than an offer letter," confirms real estate broker Josh Steppling of Josh Steppling Real Estate Group. "Including a home offer letter adds a personal touch that isn't conveyed in the mundane contracts and addenda of the deal, and it can really push the needle in your direction if you find yourself in a competitive situation. Many homebuyers, however, don't follow a few tried-and-true principles that make sure they maximize the offer letter's effect," he adds. Namely, you want to have an offer letter with all the right components.

In an exclusive interview with House Digest, Steppling shared his expertise on how to make your offer letter stand out — and, hopefully, get you that dream house.

1. Personalize the letter

The whole point of writing an offer letter is to give the sellers something more personal and intimate than a mere pile of paperwork. You don't want them to assume you're just printing off the same letter for every house you're interested in — you want it to feel as though you love their particular house so much that you went the extra mile in your offer. Consequently, you want to ensure your offer letter is as personalized as possible.

"Always include the seller's name and any other details you can deduce from the home," advises Steppling. "You never want to start the offer letter with 'Dear Homeowner.'"

Steppling also has a tip for when you're walking around the home, trying to determine whether it's the right fit for you; take note of any details that stand out. "Keep an eye out while you're touring their home. Maybe you can see they love a particular football team, or that they are public servants. Make sure that anything you can relate to is brought forth in your letter," he recommends.

Now, this isn't to say you should gush about your love for a particular football team if you rarely watch the sport. However, any of those details that truly give you some common ground are worth highlighting. Some sellers completely remove any personal items from the home to create a blank canvas, but the ones who don't may inspire great details to include in your offer letter.

2. Compliment their home

This tip may seem obvious, but it's important nonetheless. In addition to including personalized details that make it clear you're not putting a letter together for every house on the block, your offer letter should also clearly communicate your passion for the property. After all, the sellers likely spent at least a few years in that space making memories, and it will likely appeal to them to know the next owners will value the home just as much as they did. Who knows, you might even be drawn to what they consider some of their favorite parts of the home, further establishing some common ground.

"After your introduction, you'll want to talk briefly about their home and the things you love about it," Steppling recommends. However, just as you should only incorporate common details that you truly share with the homeowners, not just claiming to adore a particular hobby that you've never once considered simply because you see evidence of it throughout the home, you also should keep things relatively short and sweet in your praise. You want it to seem genuine, not like you're trying too hard and highlighting every knob, drawer, and door frame.

"This shouldn't be more than one to three sentences, but you'll want to show your appreciation for something they are undoubtedly emotionally tied to," says Steppling.

3. Show yourself off

You want to highlight commonalities that you share with the seller, you want to shine a spotlight on certain elements of the home that you absolutely adore, and you also want to put a face to the name they see in that offer letter. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

"Introduce yourself and include a photo of you, your family, your dog(s), etc.," Steppling suggests. "Talk about why you're looking to buy a home, why theirs is perfect to fit that need, and how you will see your future in their home. It pays to think back to any commonalities that may exist and highlight those as well."

Again, this is because the offer letter is all about appealing to the seller's emotions. If selling a house was an entirely logical, unemotional process, the property would go to whoever put in the highest offer every single time. However, that's not always the case. 

Sellers get swayed by certain factors. For example, if the seller raised their family in a particular home, it may tug at their heartstrings to know that a new generation is doing just the same, teaching their own children to take their first steps in the same places where the sellers experienced those important life milestones. If a seller loves the history of their home, they may prioritize a buyer who shares that affinity and isn't going to immediately gut and renovate the property.

4. Don't negotiate

When you know you're putting in an offer for your dream house, it can be tempting to let that desperation bleed into your offer letter as you try to weave both emotional details as well as logical details as to why you'd be the right buyer. However, Steppling warns you don't want to mix the two. "Too often, buyers will put items of negotiation or reasoning behind their offer or terms. Leave this out and let your real estate agent take care of this," he says.

"You never want to interrupt an emotional sell with a financial bottleneck," he adds. "If you made a low offer or need certain contingencies, your realtor can convey the reasoning to them."

Resist the temptation to pack your offer letter with every little detail in your favor, which may be a bit overwhelming to the seller. Instead, try to tell a story highlighting why you feel this is the right house for you, whether it's a connection to the neighborhood or because you want to see all the big milestones in your life play out within its walls, etc. "In your offer letter, your only goal is to sell the homeowner on you," advises Steppling.

5. Close the letter appropriately

Letter writing isn't as common nowadays as it once was, and there's a good chance that the majority of letters you've written in your life have been relatively formal. And, since your offer letter is something you're putting together along with all kinds of other paperwork, you might think it has to have the same tone as your other official letters. According to Steppling, it absolutely does not.

"This isn't a professional letter, and so my recommendation is to always close the letter informally," he clarifies. "The goal of the letter is to humanize you, so don't end it sounding like a robot. Thank the seller for the opportunity, let them know that you will be humbled/excited/honored to be considered, and that you are looking forward to hearing back from them."

The reality is it can be a bit scary to be so vulnerable and put your emotions on paper when you're penning a heartfelt offer letter. However, that vulnerability, and those raw emotions, are exactly the type of thing that has the potential to impact sellers. Basically, as Steppling advises, you don't want to ruin a beautifully crafted letter with a formal sign-off. If you're writing because you hope the property will become your family home for decades to come, you might even want to enlist everyone, from your children to your pets, to add their own signature to the letter, making it a true family effort.