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 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, writing a coverletter can improve the chances that your offer will be accepted. I strongly recommend cover letters in multiple offer situations. Sellers 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 motivate 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 hospital, etc) you reduce the risk in the sellers 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 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?
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 with 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 coverletter 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.
Should I add my picture to my coverletter?
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.
What should I write in my coverletter?
Many buyers ask me what to write in their cover letter. I have saved some samples of great cover letters over the years and usually send a few to get the ideas flowing and to pull inspiration from. The best advice for writing a cover letter is Write From the Heart. Your most powerful message comes from speaking the truth about how you feel about the house and what the house means to you. This is your chance to tell your story.
Good writing is rewriting. Be as specific as you can. Try to focus on yourself and the property and avoid the seller and their agent.
Here are a few questions to get some ideas flowing:
-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?
-How does being at the property make you feel?
-How will you live in the property once you own it?
I wrote a Cover Letter- now what?
I recommend to have someone review your cover letter before sending it. Having a second pair of eyes is always helpful when editing. Fresh eyes will be able to spot any grammar or spelling mistakes, confusing sentences, or places that could use elaboration or more specific detail. A family member or friend, or your real estate agent should be fine.
When I am editing a client’s cover letter, I try to edit minimally because I want my client’s voice to be heard. I send the edited draft back for their final review and if they are happy- they give me their OK and I package it with their offer and send it and cross our fingers!!!