Homebuyers are writing heartfelt notes to sway sellers in hot markets

By Estelle on October 4th, 2018

Falling in love with something (or someone) may come with flowers and a note.

When one GTA couple found the “character home” they’d been praying for over nine months of active house hunting, they knew winning the bidding war wouldn’t be easy.

Housing demand in Toronto is sky-high, so Monica Martins and her husband decided to go beyond the numbers and dollar signs with their bid.

Though her husband doubted the effectiveness of a letter, Monica put her pen down and started describing her family, explained their sheer love for the home in question and even complimented the seller's staging, taste in books, and furniture. She even promised the sellers not to gut the home like “another property down the street.”

“If you pick us,” Monica recalls writing, “we will make it our own over the years, but we love the house that you’ve loved so dearly and would love to live in it and raise our family in it."

She included a family photo and left the note with her realtor.

This love letter of sorts is actually part of a larger trend where Canadian homebuyers opt to include a personal touch in their offers, hoping to gain any edge against the competition.

Other notes contain “mentions of single parents, millennials saving up for a first property or young couples looking for a place to raise a family. They often mention how much the prospective buyer loves features of the home, like a big backyard, stunning wood floors or a spacious kitchen, and frequently [talks] about the sender’s occupation, hobbies and hopes for the property.”

Some may view these letters as extraneous or desperate, having little to no effect on the final sale, but some realtors are describing them as a “must.” Sellers are often considering “sentiments relayed in a note when choosing what offer to accept, especially when a home has long been in the family.”

Lawyer Donald Bergeron got a note when he and his wife put their Etobicoke home up for sale. This home was where Bergeron and his family grew up over 23 years.

Through all their offers, one stuck out with a “very well-written” letter that detailed how much the prospective buyers loved the neighbourhood and the two renovations on the house. Bergeron found out later that these buyers lived just down the street, had trick-or-treated at the house and genuinely envied the property.

The offer with the letter was the offer that was accepted, and after the negotiations, Bergeron said that the note wasn’t necessarily the deciding factor.

“It capped off our good feelings that we had chosen the right folks,” said Bergeron. “Reading the letter was almost like the whip cream on top of the sundae.”

Letter writers may run the risk of looking corny or going too far, because after all, both sides of the sale are often driven by money and not sentiment.

“Whether the letter trips it over the top, I can’t say it does, but it doesn’t do it any harm either,” said Bergeron.

The Martins weren’t the only ones to write a letter for the home they were interested in, and they didn’t even have the highest bid, but they still won the property.

“Someone else in their neighbourhood had a character home and was given assurances that it wasn’t going to be a flip job and then the buyer got in there and the day after closing, the demolition trucks came and he never lived in it,” said Martins.

“(Our sellers) felt that we were authentic in our communication, which we absolutely are.”

Some sellers really care about who they’re selling their property to, and as a family, they might value the idea that the home they loved and cherished is going to another family that can do the same.