With home inventory at historic lows and demand for spacious properties on the rise, it’s safe to say the real estate market in many areas of the country is competitive. In a competitive market, prospective homebuyers need to harness every tool at their disposal in order to stand out from the crowd.

A thoughtful home offer letter can set you apart from other prospective buyers-and could be the deciding factor as sellers wade through otherwise identical bids. Here are some tips for writing an effective home offer letter:

1. Make Connections Between You and the Owner

As you tour homes you’re interested in, take note of anything you might have in common with the owner, whether that’s a feature that reminds you of your childhood home, sports paraphernalia of your favorite team, or a diploma from your alma mater. If you’ve noticed a connection, consider referencing it in your letter.

Of course, homes are often staged prior to home tours and may be emptied of all personal items. This makes it more difficult to identify connections, but you can still make references to the home itself. For example, you could say, “I love that you kept all the original features throughout the home, especially the spiral staircase that reminds me of the one I grew up with.”

2. Find Things to Compliment About the Home

Selling a home is often an emotional experience for owners, and they likely want to pass it on to someone who will appreciate the hard work they have put into it. Plus, everyone likes compliments, and sellers are more likely to warm up to you if you throw a few accolades their way. If you’ve noticed that they have invested in building a modular dwelling unit (like the ones provided by United Dwelling), landscaped their entire backyard, or even tastefully renovated the kitchen, you could tell them they have great taste or that they did an excellent job.

3. Write the Letter by Hand

A strong offer letter reaches an owner on an emotional level, so play up that aspect by writing the letter by hand on some nice paper or stationary. Learn the name of the owner or owners if possible so you can address the letter to them personally – either on the paper if you’re going to be sending it in window envelopes, or on the front of a plain envelope. And if you can’t find their names, consider other creative greetings. For example, instead of saying “Dear owners,” you could say, “To the owners of the adorable yellow cottage.”

4. Consider Including a Photo

A photo can be a great way to let the owners focus on the human element and not just the transactional component of the home-buying process. A photo of you and your family or pet has the power to spark an immediate connection with the owners and can help them remember your offer if there are plenty others on the table.

However, it’s worth noting that in some cases it may not be appropriate to include a photo, for example, if you’re concerned it could violate any Fair Housing laws or upset owners who are selling due to divorce. Consult with your real estate agent to see what they think is best.

5. Include Just a Few Financial Details

The offer letter should focus on the emotional aspects of the home, but you may want to include a few financial details, especially if you’re offering less than the listing price. For example, you might consider including some context as to why you’re not offering full price. You could say something along the lines of, “The listing price is just out of my price range as a high school teacher, but I love your home and had to throw my offer on the table or I knew I would regret it.”

You might also want to reassure the owners in the letter that you have been pre-approved for your offer amount and are prepared to close on the home, especially if you are using a government-backed loan like an FHA loan.

6. Keep the Letter Short

You might think that more is better when it comes to an offer letter, but in many cases, owners are sifting through numerous offers and they don’t have time to read a novella. Aim to keep your letter short and sweet, limiting it to one page at the most. Owners will appreciate that you’re not wasting their time, and brevity will force you to focus on the essentials.

Discover More Tips for Navigating the Home-Buying Process

The road to homeownership can seem daunting, especially for first-time homebuyers. WE’re here to help! Connect with a radius loan officer to discuss the home buying process today.