Handwritten letters could mean the difference in a sale or not

Industry Observer with No longer practicing real estate as of 2008.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a handwritten letter worth?  It could mean the difference in a sale or not! 

I was reading a post on another forum about handwritten letters from the buyer to the seller that would accompany the offer and how it changed the seller's mind once reading the letter from the buyer. 

The buyer had written a low offer that insulted the seller's.  However, the buyer's had taken the time to select a nice card and hand write a letter to the seller explaining why the offer was low.  Just to make the story short, they basically said that, that amount was all they could afford, but loved the seller's home and wanted to start a family and make their own memories there.  It changed the seller's mind and they accepted the buyer's offer and the deal closed.

What would have happened if the buyer's hadn't taken the time to write that letter?  The seller's from what I understood, would have just rejected the offer all together and the deal probably would not have gone anywhere.  Just from taking less than 30 minutes to put a nice handwritten letter together to accompany their offer, they got the home they really wanted.

If you put yourself in the seller's shoes for a moment when they have an offer sitting in front of them, what is personal about that offer?  Nothing.  Nothing at all.  It's a bunch of pages with thousands of words on it that only a lawyer could love.  It simply states, this is what we are offering, how much we are financing and giving for escrow and when we want to close, more or less.  Nothing personal about that at all.  It doesn't say in there how much the buyer's love the seller's house, but since they are just starting out, they can't afford to offer full price.  It doesn't say in there that they looked at 40 other homes and as soon as they walked in the front door, they fell in love with this home and knew they wanted to make it theirs.  A personal letter reminds the seller that these are buyer's that will lovingly care for their home that they have enjoyed for so many years.  It removes many of the cold hard feelings that come along with offers sometimes.

Now on the flip side, what if a seller was to do the same thing for any potential buyers?

On this same forum, Leesa Finley explained that her sellers did this for each potential buyer that looked at the home.  The seller's had taken the time to write many copies so that each potential buyer would get their own.  With Leesa's permission, this is what the letter stated....

Dear Prospective Buyer,

Welcome! We wanted to let you know we are in the process of making this house ready to be your home.

We have loved this neighborhood, this house and are confident you will too. We have been working hard at making this a comfortable, social and fun loving home. We doubled the size of the deck this year, so it will accommodate all the wonderful friends and family you will have here. We also just had 5 full trees removed from the yard (9 total since we've been here,) which is why the grass is so sparse right now. The drought hasn't helped!

We can appreciate your decorative taste may be different from ours; rest assured we will have all those nail holes filled, walls touched up and painted clean and carpets professionally cleaned, so this can be your home, ready to move into!



She said each and every agent that showed the home called her back and said they thought it was a great idea!

I thought it was a great way to explain to the buyer's that they knew there were things that still needed to be done and they were going to get them done.

These hand written letters remind the buyer's that these are seller's that have enjoyed many memories and good times in their home and remind the seller's that these buyer's want to make this home theirs and create many new memories there.  The letters remind each other that they are not just people.  They are human beings that care.

Have any of your buyer's or seller's tried this before?  What was the outcome?

Copyright © 2007 Becky Troutt.  All rights reserved.

Comments (46)

Sharon Simms
Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International - Saint Petersburg, FL
I've seen and used buyers letters before but not a seller's letter like this. Good idea.  I have seen when sellers leave a plate of fresh cookies on the counter, cold drink of fresh hot coffee, and leave a handwritten note for the buyers welcoming them, suggesting them sit down to relax and enjoy the refreshments, and thank them for coming. It does make a favorable impression.
Dec 04, 2007 02:40 PM
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services
Becky -- I have written a couple of featured blogs which emphasized the importance and impact of handwritten letters from buyers.  99% of the time the clients I work with write handwritten letters.  When I started in real estate 10 years ago in New Hampshire, agents thought this was a bit odd, however, the sellers really related to this.  I am glad you found them so helpful
Dec 04, 2007 03:09 PM
Ryan Hukill - Edmond
ShowMeOKC Real Estate Pros of KW Elite - Edmond, OK
Realtor, Team Lead

I've used the handwritten notes from the buyers many times, but never thought of this approach. Great idea! I also use handwritten notecards when contacting expired listings and fsbos. It's worked wonderfully. People still love that personal touch!

Dec 04, 2007 03:42 PM
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes
Nice hand written notes are always a good idea for many things in life. They are not the more common communication these days, so when they are done they are outstanding.
Dec 04, 2007 04:53 PM
Rick Beal
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Portland, ME
I've had success, particularly with first time home buyers.  Sellers seem to respond well to the opportunity for a young couple to own their first home.
Dec 04, 2007 05:13 PM
Gary McNinch
Better Properties Real Estate - Renton, WA
Broker, Renton WA Real Estate

Becky - great post, I hadn't thought of the sellers writing notes or as someone pointed out putting the sellers love into the video.   I have always had my buyers write a heartfelt note about how they loved the home.  It helped in multi offer situations and now that our market has changed it helps with price and terms. 

Personal handwritten notes are huge... for building relationships.

List and Sell (and keep it personal)   Gary


Dec 04, 2007 06:15 PM
Joseph Ellman
Realty Executives- Williams-Sykes Realty - Poughkeepsie, NY
Fantastic idea and post, Becky!  Thank you for sharing this!
Dec 04, 2007 08:19 PM
Erby Crofutt
B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing (www.b4uclose.com) - Lexington, KY
The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY

One of the greatest things about AR is the ability to learn from all the others out there about what works an what doesn't.

Obviously, this is one of the "it works" class.

Thanks for sharing it with all of us.

Dec 04, 2007 09:13 PM
Becky Troutt
No longer practicing real estate as of 2008. - Bradenton, FL

Leesa, Yes it makes sense, and YOU rock also!!!

Craig, glad to hear so many positive responses

Jennifer, great idea.  Congrats on getting a few deals this way.

Gary, thanks for commenting.

Karl, that makes sense!

Sharon, hadn't thought about cookies and drinks, man you guys are full of good ideas!

Dec 04, 2007 10:19 PM
Becky Troutt
No longer practicing real estate as of 2008. - Bradenton, FL

Joan, they prob thought it was a bit odd, just because they don't normally see this.  Kinda sad actually that people find handwritten notes odd....

Ryan, yes they do love the personal touch.  Thanks for stopping by.

Bob & Carolin, yes they are!

Rick, nice to know.  Thanks for commenting.

Gary, thanks!

Joseph, you're welcome.

Erby, Isn't this place great?  You're welcome!

Dec 04, 2007 10:25 PM
Find a Notary Public needAnotary
QEC Internet Services - Long Beach, CA

I like the YouTube reference get out of the stands and get on the court, play the game of life.  Too many play it safe and cheat the rest of us out of a better quality of life because we refuse to preform our God given gift for the whole world to see, feel, taste, touch and smell.

That is in line with your post on stepping out of the box and paying personal attention to people. 

Dec 05, 2007 01:02 AM
Josette Skilling
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Bethesda, MD
We don't seem to write much by hand anymore do we!  It's a nice reminder to write...  simply technology.
Dec 05, 2007 01:25 AM
Collette Lee
Tower Realty - Riverside, CA
When you actually write a note or letter, it just adds to that personal touch.  These days with such great technology we forget about the simple things that make a world of difference.
Dec 05, 2007 04:28 AM
Terry & Bonnie Westbrook
Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner - Grand Rapids, MI
Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re
I have used this sparingly in our market maybe I need to get more letters from Buyers. Thanks for the comments.
Dec 05, 2007 05:58 AM
Boston, MA


It's amazing how much a personal touch can help with almost any situation.  From just talking to the cashier at the grocery store and bringing a smile to their face to a personal hand written note to help close the deal.  Just that little added effort typically goes a long way.

Dec 05, 2007 06:50 AM
Emily Lowe
The Lipman Group | Sotheby's International Realty - Nashville, TN
Nashville TN Realtor
I do think it helps to make everyone seem more human!
Dec 05, 2007 07:02 AM
Becky Troutt
No longer practicing real estate as of 2008. - Bradenton, FL

Ntsike, that is one of my favorite videos.

Josette, very true.

Collette, It's east to forget these really simple things now-a-days.

Terry, you're welcome.

Martin, It's amazing what just being nice to other people can do. 

Emily, yes it does.

Dec 05, 2007 10:33 PM
Brian Wilson

Becky, I read that same post! The impact of a hand-written letter in today's electronic-based society cannot be underestimated. I thought that was a great story, and it is making me think about implementing such an idea.

Brian Wilson, Zolve.com 

Dec 06, 2007 03:02 AM
Becky Troutt
No longer practicing real estate as of 2008. - Bradenton, FL
Brian, thanks for stopping by.  I think many others will also be implementing it too.
Dec 06, 2007 11:07 PM
Find a Notary Public needAnotary
QEC Internet Services - Long Beach, CA

Season's Greeting and Happy Holidays to you and your family during this beautiful time of the year!  I trust 2007 was an okay year for you and that 2008 will be more fantastic.

Dec 21, 2007 06:10 PM