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Cover Letter

What is a Cover Letter?

A Cover Letters is a 1 page letter (write a letter, not a book!) that shows the seller that you have a strong motivation to buy their property. Cover letters are optional  and not required. Buyers can choose to include a cover letter to strengthen their offer.

Should I write a Cover Letter?

If you are in a multiple offer situation, I strongly recommend to write a cover letter. Writing a cover letter can improve the chances that your offer will be accepted. Seller’s deepest fear is that they accept an offer that cancels and they fall out of escrow. Properties that come back on the market usually sell for less money because buyers are suspicious and some of the bidders may have moved on to other properties, lessening demand.

By demonstrating to the seller that you are strongly motivated to buy their property (Kids start school in a month and you need to be settled, You need to be within walking distance to your place of worship or hospital, etc) you reduce the risk in the seller’s mind that you will fall out of escrow.

However, if you don’t feel strongly about the house then skipping the cover letter is best. I have read cover letters from buyers who were under pressure to buy a property quickly and it wasn’t their first, second or even third choice, and you can tell that they don’t really care if they get the property or not. Writing a cover letter when you feel like this can actually hurt you, so just skip it if you don’t have strong feelings and save your writing for only the very special house that speaks to you.

I would not recommend writing a cover letter if you want to negotiate the price. Cover letters may weaken your negotiating position because it informs the seller that you are strongly motivated to buy, and they can use this information to negotiate a higher sale price.

Does a cover letter improve my chances?

In my experience Yes it does. When the seller is reviewing a bunch of offers they received in multiple offers, your offer appears to the seller like just a name and a number- the purchase price. Most of the time the seller will have never met you in person because their agent showed you the property when they were not there. The cover letter is the only time you can communicate directly to the seller and share your story.

Cover letters personalize your offer. You might be surprised but many buyers don’t bother to write a cover letter! Writing a cover letter can make your offer stand out– and believe me, the seller is going to read it.

In a multiple offer situation, the most important thing is price. If your offer price is much lower than the other offers don’t expect the cover letter to make up the difference. You still need to have a competitive offer price. Selling a house is an emotional decision and your cover letter might be the deciding factor for the seller if they are struggling to make a close decision. 

How do I write a good cover letter?

Many buyers ask me what to write in their cover letter. I sometime send cover letter samples so they can pull some ideas and inspiration from them. The best advice for writing a cover letter is Write From the Heart. The most powerful message comes from speaking in your own unique voice. 

Good writing is rewriting. Be as specific as you can. Try to focus on yourself and the property. Here are a few questions to get some ideas started:

Why do you want to buy this property?

Why do you want to live in this area?

What is your reason for buying a property right now?

Where have you lived in the past and how does that compare to here?

How does being at the property make you feel?

How will you live in the property once you own it?

I usually have my clients send me the coverletter once they have written a draft to review it. A second pair of eyes will be able to see the cover letter draft fresh to look for any spelling mistakes, or confusing sentences, or add some specific details where needed. I might make some edits and then return to the buyer for a final look-over and edit- once they are happy with it I get their OK and send it. 

Should I add my picture to my coverletter?

The jury is out on this one- I’d say it’s 50/50. A picture is by no means mandatory, but sometimes it can be helpful put a “face” to a name and make your offer more memorable. Although, beware, including a picture can be a double-edged sword. You never know where the seller is coming from, and sometimes including a photo can actually hurt you instead of help you if the seller is prejudice. Most of the time I recommend to let the buyer’s words stand on their own merits and forego a picture. Sometimes, if you know the seller has pets, and you have pets too, including a picture with a furry family member can be good.

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