Bridging the Divided

Writing Letters To Sellers: The Competitive Edge

My son and his soulmate are looking to buy their first home. The housing market is crazy competitive. Houses come on the market and within hours offers in the double digits pour in. Some buy without even touring the home. The kids live in a neighboring state, so they send us homes they are considering to view online. It doesn’t matter if one has bought several homes throughout a lifetime or considering the first, it is an exciting and stressful time.

Apparently, writing letters to the sellers is a thing. When did that become a thing? The kids are in the process of writing such a letter. Their realtor told them it could help sellers decide which offer they would take. Really? 

I am a fan of the reality talent shows – The Voice, America’s Got Talent, American Idol – talent competitions that showcase those whose talent may not otherwise get recognized in the competitive entertainment industry. Kelly Clarkson was one such winner of a talent competition. Now, she is a sought-after country artist, talk show host, and judge on The Voice – the rags to riches story we all love. If memory serves, she was a waitress in Texas when she won the competition that changed the course of her life. 

These days one doesn’t just need the talent to be considered for the competitive talent show lineup. One must also share a story that tugs at the heartstrings of the judges and audience. The more heart-wrenching the story, the more we want them to rise to the top. Perhaps this is the reason prospective buyers are encouraged to write letters to the sellers? 

Other than “we love your home and would love to live in this neighborhood”, what else is there to say? Do the prospective buyers get vetted by the sellers or sellers’ realtors to verify the stories told in their letters? It’s not that I don’t trust people – well, actually it is that I don’t trust most people! What, other than a strong moral code for honesty, is keeping prospective buyers from embellishing or even flat-out lying to edge out the competition? How do sellers choose? If there is a need for letters to increase a buyer’s chances, are sellers willing to take lower offers because one prospective buyer hit their rags to riches story out of the ballpark?

Here’s my take on the letter-writing thing: we are a sound-bite society. Sound bites are used for everything these days, and their purpose is to entice us to vote for certain candidates, buy certain products, or believe what we hear or see on the news or social media. Sound bites are often misleading and manipulative because they provide information taken out of context. Sound bites are directed at our emotions, not our intellect. 

The real estate industry has always played on the emotions of its buyers. I dabbled in real estate back in the day. The selling jargon used with prospective buyers is directed at helping them visualize their families living in the homes they are shown. And so it seems real estate agents have added one more tool to their toolbox – writing letters to sellers to give buyers the competitive edge…..

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