Say the Magic Words, Win the Bidding on That House You Want

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One of the reasons that home prices have been rising nearly every month in nearly every state is that the inventory of affordable houses is not keeping up with demand. In many areas that are highly desirable for one reason or another, multiple bids for the same house are common.

The surest way to win? Make the highest offer. Well, you know what they say, “Money talks ….” But most home buyers are constrained by how much they can afford so a flanking attack may be in order.

If you’re really close (or tied) on the cash part of the deal and want to give yourself a better chance without busting your budget, consider some advice from Longmont, Colorado, realtor Mindy Jensen:

Making the highest offer is typically the best way to win a bid, but when a seller is faced with two very similar offers, a letter can oftentimes tip the scales toward yours.

Here’s an example of an offer letter that worked for one of Jensen’s clients:

The words that wooed: My husband and I have been searching for our first home, and we believe your house will be the perfect place to raise our growing family. Our son is due in September, and I know he will be so happy playing in the fabulous backyard with our two dogs.

Why it worked: “The seller appreciated her praising specific things that were obviously installed by the homeowners,” says Jensen. “But the tipping point was when she included a picture of her dog with the letter. The seller specifically allowed her to match the highest offer, based solely on her dog.”

How to do it yourself: Make yourself relatable. Take a cue from the lovingly tended roses or, in this case, a dog, and try to glean what the seller values. It could be kids, a dog, or even a love of gardening. If you share those same interests, offer them up. You never know what phrases may spur the seller to choose your offer over another.

In another instance in southern California, an appeal to sentiment carried the day:

The words that wooed: We grew up in the city and our parents live very close by; one of them is living very close to your home. It’s important to find a home close to our family, so that when we start our family, our children will be close to their grandparents.

Why it worked: “If the seller has raised their own family there, they have an emotional connection to the house,” says David Feldberg, broker/owner of Coastal Real Estate Group in Newport Beach, CA. “Talking about several generations plucks those heart strings.”

How to do it yourself: Include details about your family and connection to the area. And always include a photo. When the seller is considering multiple offers, the photo makes your offer stand out from the pack.

While a personalized offer letter may not always win, making a little extra effort could garner a large payoff.