If you’re looking to buy a home (whether this is for an investment or to move into), writing a letter can be an effective way of standing out. It allows you to make a great impression on the seller, without having to speak directly with the seller face-to-face.
In this article, we’ll cover 6 tips on writing an effective letter to a homeowner, but first, let’s when and WHY you should write a letter.
Hold one sec for this interruption… if you’re writing a letter to buy an investment property, check out our ebook below for tips on real estate direct mail marketing:
Why write a letter to a home seller?
Here are a few reasons you should be using this technique:
- You’re LOOKING for a house to buy, and you mail the houses that you’re interested in (before it’s listed).
If you’re new to investing… you don’t HAVE to wait for a house to on the market. There are HUNDREDS of sellers waiting to sell in your market, but other things get in the way. So a personal letter from you, asking if they’d be interested in selling while skipping out on the expensive agent fees, might be enticing.
There’s a whole world of “off-market” homes where companies try to reach out to sellers before they even list. There’s no law that says you have to wait for a listing. Just ask them. Sure people will be a little weirded out (because they’ve never really been asked)… but if you come across as another local, and personal, you’re asking a simple question: “Are you selling?”.
- You want to make a good impression on your offer.
So this a situation where you’ve MADE an offer on a house that is listed. And in a competitive market, they most likely have a handful of buyers to choose from. If it’s a family in the home… most likely, they’d rather sell to another family. So making a first impression can be key to getting your offer picked. Many times, because agents are in the way, it’s a little taboo to go and speak with the seller directly (Sellers don’t want that, it’s the reason why they hired an agent). But, there’s nothing that says you can write them a letter.
Additionally, it gives the seller something tangible that they can refer back to at any time during their decision-making process.
“Rules” to writing a letter to a homeowner
First, we’ll cover GENERAL guidelines to an effective letter…
Then we’ll break down the difference between you looking for an investment, or a letter after you’ve given your offer.
- Keep it concise – You want readers to easily understand it. Simple tip: Write like you talk. Don’t get fancy and technical. Don’t have unnecessary information in there. You’ll come across as more authentic and personal.
- Use warm language – While being brief is important when writing letters like this one, it’s also important for them not to feel too robotic or robotic-sounding; try using language that gives off warmth but still remains professional in nature throughout your message.
- Include relevant documents – When possible (and if this is a letter after you’ve given an offer), attach relevant documents such as proof of funds or other documents requested by sellers like preapproval letters so they get an immediate sense of confidence in your ability to close on the sale without delay.
- Personalize it – Whenever possible personalize your message with details about why buying you’re this particular property; What is it about this property. Include details about your family, and how you love the neighborhood and/or the school.
Now, those are general “copywriting” tips, but let’s get into more specific details depending on if you’re “prospecting” or soliciting to find an investment property (yeah “soliciting” sounds spammy but that’s just the definition… you’re reaching out and asking something).
Looking for an off-market investment property
Many investors and flippers use direct mail as a means of reaching out to homeowners and asking:
“I’d like to buy your house for cash. Call if you’d be interested in getting a cash offer”
Now, for most, this sounds “off-putting”. But MANY run their entire operation of buying houses on these types of letters.
You of course can do it at a much smaller scale and a much more personal level which = more effective. If you’re only mailing a small section of your town (maybe 200 homes), you MIGHT be able to handwrite all the letters yourself…
But you can always use us, a handwriting company to write them for you. We have robo-pens that match human handwriting to the tee. You might want to try our “greeting letter” which has had amazing success for our clients.
Where to get your list
The other question: “How do I get their mailing address? Do I drive around writing it down?”
There are a number of services where you can download a list of mailing addresses and people’s names. This is ALL public record so there’s nothing illegal about this. One particular data provider is called “List Source”. You can also “draw” a circle around your geolocation and it’ll pull all the mailing addresses of the properties. And you can filter as well with types of homes, size, etc.
What to say?
Since most investors are offering CASH (which can mean a great incentive for sellers), there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this right now, you aren’t looking to buy cash (if you are I highly suggest you get on a strategy call with our team to come up with a bigger and effective direct mail strategy).
But there are some other benefits you can offer:
- You’re looking to buy without an agent to avoid expensive commission (you and the seller can avoid a combined $30,000 in commission for a $500k house)
- You’re local and looking to move into the house (there are a LOT of people that will only sell to someone who’ll be moving into the house. They dislike dealing with investors and choose to not sell to them
- You can offer MORE than investors (Investors will ask for a discount. You can buy at retail price).
TIP: Get a PO box. Don’t use your home mailing address as the return. You don’t want to advertise where you live. If you can get a “virtual” address that would be best so it looks more like a “local” person; the PO box can scream, business.
If you’re a cash buyer writing a letter to a homeowner
The main thing is featuring the big benefits:
- You’re local ( this is a big one in a lot of markets)
- You can close quickly
- And you buy as-is
Another thing is making sure they take you seriously. So a pro tip for this: put up a professional website, and place the URL in the letter. With our “Greeting Letter,” we allow the footer to have your website. A lot of sellers are afraid of scams so they’ll look you up.
Writing an attention-grabbing letter, with those “features” listed above. is key in this process, as it will help make sure the seller feels comfortable and has confidence in you as a potential buyer.
What should you say?
Keep it VERY simple. For example:
“Hi [first name],
My name is [your name] with [company name] and I’m interested in buying your property at [address]. I can buy it as-is and you don’t have to pay realtor fees. If you’re interested, I’d love to have the opportunity to give you an offer. Call me or text me if you’re interested please.
Before we move, check out this video on direct mail tips from an investor who uses mail every week for finding great deals:
Let’s dive into some other tips for crafting your letter…
Tips for writing a letter to home sellers
We’ve covered some guidelines… let’s go into actual tips:
- Introduce yourself and your family — The seller doesn’t know who you are. So a property intro is needed.
- 2. State your reason for writing — You don’t need to be sneaky about what you want. Give your reason upfront. You’ll come across as more authentic rather than trying to beat around the bush
- Mention the home you are interested in, including the address and price— The seller might own several homes (that’s good if you’re buying multiple investment properties). So you want to be specific.
- Explain why you are interested in this particular home — Asking about buying someone’s house might be a little off-putting. Give the reason you’d like to buy it. If you’re a professional home buyer, then the reason is obvious, no need to go into details if you mention your URL and company name.
- Thank the seller for their time, and let them know that you will be in touch soon — More of a tip for those writing a letter AFTER they’ve given an offer, but being grateful for having the opportunity to put in your offer can have a huge impact on your impression, trust, and likability.
- Close with your name and contact information — Believe it or not, people have forgotten to end with some contact info. Make sure you have a “call to action” (a description of what do to next) and a way of contacting you.
Mail is still king
Writing a letter to reach home sellers is an effective way of making an impression and swaying their decision. While it may take some practice and thought, it’s really just about writing a casual letter stating a few points.
You can use this technique both as a cash buyer looking for their next wholesale deal, an investor, or just someone just looking to buy a primary residence.
Also, be sure to include warm and personal touches in your letters – don’t just stick with the formality if you want the seller to acknowledge your offer. By using the tips highlighted in this article, you can successfully incorporate letter-writing into your home-buying journey. With such an efficient communication system that allows you to humanize yourself more than a phone call or email ever could.