In a highly competitive housing market, buyers are looking for any advantage they can get with sellers who frequently receive multiple bids for a property. Writing a personalized letter to the seller of a home has become in recent years a popular — and controversial — tool used by potential homebuyers to persuade sellers to choose their bid.
While there are concerns such letters may violate fair housing standards, many buyers credit them with tipping the scale in their favor. In the right circumstances, writing a strong house offer letter is worth considering when you’re in a competitive bidding situation.
Here’s how to write a letter for a house offer:
- What Is a House Offer Letter?
- When Is It OK To Send a House Offer Letter?
- Must-Haves in a House Offer Letter
- Topics To Avoid in a House Offer Letter
- House Offer Letter Template
- Writing a Strong House Offer Letter FAQ
- The Bottom Line on Writing a Strong House Offer Letter
A house offer letter is a written letter to the seller of a home telling them a bit about who you are, why you want to buy their home and how you would use it, your ability to complete the sale, and why they should choose your bid over other offers. An offer letter for a house personalizes your bid and should help the seller see you as more than a number on an offer sheet.
While this sounds like a great way to help your offer stand out, the practice also has been criticized and discouraged.
“If you send a letter about yourself, and a photo, and that sways the seller’s opinion, it could be a fair housing violation, and puts the agent and seller at risk of being sanctioned by the (National Association of Realtors),” says Chris Galdieri, a Realtor with LoKation Real Estate in Pompano Beach, Florida.
It’s not always a good idea to write a house offer letter.
The practice has been criticized for perpetuating housing discrimination. If you disclose information such as your race, national origin, religion, or other protected individual traits — even unintentionally — the seller could violate federal law by including that information in their decision.
Prominent real estate groups, including the National Association of Realtors, have advised their members against the practice. And Oregon passed a state law prohibiting house offer letters, though a federal court blocked it in March 2022 with a preliminary injunction.
Also keep in mind that cash usually speaks louder than any offer letter in a competitive market. Writing an offer letter on a house will only help your chances if it ends up being the deciding factor for a seller choosing between competitive offers.
Be sure to discuss with your real estate agent whether an offer letter is appropriate to write before preparing one for submission.
Must-Haves in a House Offer Letter
If writing a letter to a home seller works as part of your bidding strategy, there are a few main components it should include to be as strong as possible.
Address the seller by name. You can get that information from your agent if you don’t already have it. For example, it’s better to write “Dear Barbara and John” or “Dear Mr. and Mrs. Lee” than “Dear Seller.”
While you and your partner or spouse are trying to establish a personal connection, this is still a business letter, Galdieri says. At the same time, avoid being as formal as you would be in an email to your boss.
Let your personality shine a bit, and tell the seller about yourself. Include a few details about who you are, and explain why you want to buy the home.
“Find some common elements that you can share with the seller,” Galdieri says. Maybe you both went to the same school, or root for the same team. Any common ground you can find will help you stand out when the seller is reviewing offers, he says.
The letter should convey what buying the home would mean for you and your future, Galdieri says. Be positive.
“Explain that you will be a great addition to the neighborhood, and you would make a great neighbor,” he says.
If you want to live in the home, talk specifically about the things you like. If you love the kitchen, include that you think its layout is perfect for hosting the many family dinners you would have there. If the pool is more your speed, explain that you’ve always wanted to enjoy swimming all summer long with your friends and family.
You might include a few high-level details regarding your finances, such as whether you’re preapproved for a mortgage, how much down payment you plan to make, and any earnest money you’re offering. The letter to the seller of a home will be sent along with a formal offer that includes all the financial details.
Consider including an explanation of the rationale behind your offer, especially if it’s below asking price. Work closely with your agent on this, Galdieri says.
Lastly, include any other special aspects of your bid, such as offering to rent the home back to the sellers if they need more time to move out after the sale, he says.
At the end of the day, your offer will be considered against others, so you should thank the seller for taking time to read your letter.
Be sincere, truthful, and thankful. Use the emotional aspect of the home offer letter to your advantage, Galdieri says.
“The home tends to have a deeper meaning to the sellers since they shared years of memories there,” he says. “There’s an emotional aspect that the buyers can leverage if they can identify what the home meant to the seller.”
Topics To Avoid in a House Offer Letter
When it comes to an offer letter for a house, shorter is better — you’ll want to avoid giving too much information. Steer clear of the following topics when you’re writing a letter to a home seller.
Leave out any information that could violate fair housing standards. This includes race, skin color, national origin, marital status, income, religious affiliation, and political beliefs.
Think of it like a first date, Galdieri says. If you wouldn’t mention the information on a first date, it shouldn’t be mentioned in an offer letter.
The sellers don’t want to hear your plans to demolish the kitchen they loved or to replace the shag carpet they think is absolutely perfect for the living room. And if you plan to rent out the home, keep that to yourself.
“Some sellers may be turned off to converting their home into a rental,” Galdieri says.
It’s unnecessary to get into too many details of your offer in the letter. Doing so is more likely to raise questions or concerns than inspire confidence. Leave the specifics to your agent to submit on the offer sheet.
A family photograph
While including a family photo seems like a great way to create a personal connection, it may leave the seller and their agent open to discrimination claims, Galdieri says. It’s best to leave this out to avoid problems.
House Offer Letter Template
Here’s an example of how to write an offer letter for a house that you can use as a starting point for your next home bid:
Dear [seller’s name],
We are writing this letter to thank you for allowing us to see your beautiful home, and are very pleased to submit the attached offer.
We want to compliment your home, as it immediately struck us as a beautiful and comfortable place to live in. [Mention specific aspects of the home that you like.]
Let me tell you a bit about ourselves. [Add a few general details about yourself, and introduce your family. Avoid any mention of race, skin color, national origin, religion, familial status, disabilities, or political affiliations.]
[Talk about how the home’s features and location are a good fit for you.] We also love the neighborhood and how close it is to the school that our child attends. Moreover, your home is close to [place of work], and is near [amenities] we enjoy using in our free time.
We already have a mortgage preapproval letter for [amount] and are able to make a down payment of [amount]. Additionally, we are pleased to offer a 5% earnest money deposit of [amount].
If you accept our offer, we will do everything possible to expedite the closing process. We also can be flexible with the closing date, if necessary.
We would love the chance to preserve the character of your gorgeous home and garden, and build a life in your amazing neighborhood. Thank you again for your time and consideration.
[Your name and the name of your partner or spouse]
[Your phone number]
[Your email address]
Remember to avoid following any template verbatim. Your letter should be personal, so make sure it reflects your personality while expressing your positive feelings about the home and why you want to live there.
Also, be sure to proofread your letter, and have a friend read it over before you pass it on to your agent to submit to the seller.
Writing a Strong House Offer Letter FAQ
Here are answers to common questions about writing a house offer letter.
A house offer letter should be no longer than one page — about 400 words, Galdieri says.
It’s best to type your house offer letter and email it to your agent so they can easily forward it to the seller, Galdieri says. Writing out the letter by hand may appear more personal, but typing is quicker and prevents problems with handwriting being illegible or hard to read, he says.
A house offer letter gives you one more resource to help you secure a home, especially if the situation is right and you’re in a tight housing market. Ultimately, it might make the difference in getting you the home you want.