How to write better prospecting letters

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Better prospecting letters – or anything else – begins with good grammar, combined with correct spelling.

But I harp about that – and about proofreading – all the time. Today is about the content.

If you want to write better prospecting letters to attract real estate clients…

Begin by realizing that you must write to one individual at a time.

No, I don’t mean you have to write individual letters when you write to real estate prospects.

I mean that the letters must appear to be written only for that one prospect. Use the words “you” and “your” and “yours.” Avoid saying “all of you,” “those of you,” “many of you,” or (Ugh) “You guys.”

Begin by envisioning the group – all the people in your farming territory or your niche. Then envision just one of them – or just one couple or family.

Try this tried and true copywriting tactic...

Some writers go as far a to choose a photo, give their prospect a name, and write down their statistics. For instance, their age, their income, their occupation, the number and ages of their children, their goals, their dreams, their worries, their fears, etc. Then they put that where they can see it as they’re writing – and they write to that one person, couple, or family.

Personalize your letters: When you write to those individuals, use their names and spell them correctly.

It does matter to people. When you get the name wrong, it says “I don’t know who you are, but I want your money.”

I received an email just this week, asking me for a favor. The writer should have taken time to learn my name instead of addressing me as “Margaret.”

You’ll make the same poor impression if you write “Dear Sir or Madam.” You can get away with no greeting on a flyer, a postcard, or a newsletter, but a letter should be personalized.

Err on the side of good manners…

While many (even most) today don’t mind having strangers address them by their first names, others do take offense. The older the prospect, the more likely your letter will be sent immediately to the round file for that sin.

Remember that good real estate prospecting letters are NOT about you.

If you want people to read them, your letters have to be about your prospect, not about you. It may be tough to hear, but strangers don’t care about you. The only reason they’ll read what you wrote is because there might be something in it for them.

So skip saying “Hi I’m Tom the Terrific Realtor” and instead ask a question or make a statement they can agree with. Then give them information they can use. You can tell them what you’ll do for them as long it’s about them and not obviously about how much you want their business. Once you gain someone’s interest by showing you can be of value to them, they’ll go to your website and learn more about you from your agent bio.

A rule of thumb to remember if you want to write better prospecting letters:

Use some form of “you” 3 or 4 times more often than you use any form of “I.”  People receiving your letters really aren’t interested in reading all about you and what you do, think, or want. They ARE interested in themselves and their own concerns.

A letter we received recently is a prime example of how not to write a real estate prospecting letter. There are 4 paragraphs. The agent said “me, I, my, we, or myself” 16 times. She said you or yours only 4 times – in the last paragraph. She really made me cringe when she wrote “Please reach out to myself…”  (That wasn’t her only grammar/word usage error, but it is the one that’s my pet peeve.)

“One size fits all” does not apply to real estate prospecting letters…

In fact, one size doesn’t fit many. Since residents in a geographic territory may or may not share reasons for selling, your letters to them must necessarily be generic. However, even then, there are differences in concerns between those with mid-range homes and those who reside in luxury homes.

When you write to homeowners in a geographic area, you’re sending out feelers – letting them know that you’re there for them should they decide to sell. Your letters can offer reasons why they might want to move. And of course, they can offer a free CMA and a “free subscription” to your monthly or quarterly market reports.

When prospects have a specific reason for selling, that changes.

And each situation calls for different content in your letters. Those going through divorce

need a different letterwrite better prospecting letters to people in despair from the one you’ll send to people dealing with probate. Distressed homeowners have a different motivation from military members or corporate employees who are being transferred.

Letters to individuals in each group should address their specific concerns.  So – segment your lists carefully.

And… I should not need to say this, but…

Buyer prospects need different real estate prospecting letters than seller prospects.

Right now (because rules do have exceptions), there are two kinds of letters that can go to all of your listing prospects

These letters can be used alone, or integrated into another marketing campaign. They are:

  • COVID letters
  • Hot market letters

COVID letters assure sellers that you will take every precaution in bringing their homes to market.

They also explain how extensive photographs and virtual tours are helping buyers narrow their choices – and how you use those tools to attract serious buyers.

Because COVID didn’t go away like we hoped it would, I’ve written several sets that address it. You’ll find links to each of the sets in my collection right here:

Hot market letters serve a different purpose.

These explain why it is important to choose your agent carefully, even in a red-hot market. They outline what a good agent does to get a home sold quickly, to help sellers choose and respond to the best offer, and to handle all the details and possible problems that can arise between agreement and closing.

Write your own, or take advantage of the set I offer at:

Remember that the prospecting letters you send will be making a first impression on many of the homeowners you wish to serve.

As you know, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so don’t hurry. Take the time to write better prospecting letters – or come here to choose from dozens of pre-written sets. Use them with just your personalization, or add details unique to your service or your market.

Write better prospecting letters – Make that first impression the best that it can be.

Senior citizen Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at
Distressed figure courtesy of stuart miles @
This post first appeared at:


Comments (11)

June Piper-Brandon
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Ellicott City, MD
Piecing Dreams One Home at a Time

In our current situation it's so important to be prospecting for new listings, a great prospecting letter is a good start.

Mar 06, 2021 10:01 PM
Marte Cliff

Yes, June Piper-Brandon - now more than ever it's important to have good listings.

Mar 07, 2021 09:57 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Marte - "it's all about the client".   Less focus on "I" and greater emphasis on "You".  

Mar 07, 2021 03:42 AM
Marte Cliff

Michael Jacobs - If you want people to read your letters, they MUST be about them and their concerns - not yours.

Mar 07, 2021 09:58 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Good morning, Marte... what a wonderful post. I try to follow all the "rules" you laid out, although I suspect there are times I don't quite "get there." And this is one reason why I don't used canned prospecting/lead follow up letters in my CRM... I've uploaded my own. Too many agents just want to take the easy way out and don't realize that recipients can see it's a canned letter.

Mar 07, 2021 05:05 AM
Marte Cliff

Nina Hollander I do write prospecting letters that are used by agents all over the country, but I hope they don't come across as "canned." I have seen some of those - and most do break the rule. They're all about the supposed writer, not the prospect. It makes me sad when unsuspecting agents pay money to use letters that make them look bad.

Mar 07, 2021 10:01 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Carol Williams good Sunday morning, Carol... my recommendations for Second Chance Saturday post.

Mar 07, 2021 05:06 AM
Marte Cliff

Thank you Nina Hollander!

Mar 07, 2021 10:01 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Good morning Marte,
How much better would our marketing be if that one letter word "I" was stricken completely?

Mar 07, 2021 06:29 AM
Marte Cliff

Carol Williams Much better. However, it would be pretty difficult to get rid of it entirely. Unfortunately, some who try to eliminate "I" and "me" substitute "myself" in places it definitely doesn't belong.

Mar 07, 2021 10:03 AM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Great post Marte Cliff thank you for the helpful tips you shared with us

Mar 07, 2021 03:08 PM
Marte Cliff

Thanks for reading them, Rocky Dickerson!

Mar 08, 2021 01:15 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Marte- good to see you and once again...excellent tips for all of us. And yes, it's about them (your target audience) not you. 

Mar 07, 2021 06:02 PM
Marte Cliff

Thanks Kathy Streib - I don't know why so many agents can't seem to grasp that concept. But - my mailbox tells me they don't!

Mar 08, 2021 01:16 PM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Agent Retired

Great post on how to write to our clients better. 

No 'youz guys' either.

Mar 08, 2021 07:20 AM
Marte Cliff

Thank you for the giggle, Lyn Sims. Those are always appreciated!


Mar 08, 2021 01:16 PM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Marte, great tips, and I have many visitors to my website each month, and stay in touch.   Each follow-up email is personalized, even though my web host has a library of drip emails you can sign up for.   It feels better when you make each email to THEM.

Mar 10, 2021 09:49 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Good Thursday morning, Marte. It appears to be the Day of the Dog on ActiveRain.

Mar 11, 2021 05:04 AM
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

Hello Marte!  I just sent you an email  I could use some fresh air in letters!

you can email me Thank you 

Apr 25, 2021 06:02 PM