Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

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kjvmartin
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by kjvmartin » Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:41 pm

TheGreyingDuke wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:32 am
Put me down as one who is skeptical about the value of most so-called home inspections. There may be exceptions but...

One example, my son and daughter-in-law were buying a house and we were all there during the house inspection. I followed the inspectors around, they didn't do much more than flip some switches, look in the attic crawl space, and note the service entrance and the like. When I pointed out a large tree in the yard that looked unhealthy they added that, when I noted an outdoor staircase without a railing, they noted that. When I spotted some moisture around a chimney, they added that. Totally useless, IMHO.

I have other similar data points.

In NY home inspectors are not allowed to comment on structural defects, that is in the purview of architects or engineers. I would sooner find one of these professionals, one who has some expertise in inspections, and pay the somewhat larger fee.
We bought our first house from a Realtor selling his own property. We had no experience and were not advised to get an inspection - forego extra expense and time to save everyone money. House looked beautiful and was recently remodeled from the basement floor to the roof. Awesome and happy for about a week until literally the worst things that could have gone wrong did. Very long and expensive legal process ensued. The advice to "get an inspection" would have saved me tens of thousands from my life savings that I will never get back. I would say you should ensure you are getting a rock solid, good, expensive inspection anytime you're buying a house.

2015
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by 2015 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:24 pm

barnaclebob wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:27 pm
2015 wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:07 pm
One of the advantages of living in one of the trendiest parts of the country where new trendoids are moving every day is I can ruthlessly extract as much of every last quarter penny out of buyers as I can when I sell soon. At most, I might scoff at a heartfelt letter because if you want to live here you've got to be prepared to pay the price. OTOH, as I will have the good fortune of moving to an area that is a buyer's market, I will definitely use this letter "tactic" to get a lower price on a dream place than I might not otherwise. Thanks for posting.
For sure letters would have less impact on someone selling an average house in a trendy area where the location is the only real price differentiator. Saying you really want to live in SODO SOPA and love the house doesn't really mean much if all the houses are the same.

A letter likely wont get you a much lower price buying but be the tipping point in a virtual tie. I cant say that I wouldn't take 5k less for someone who told me they have been dreaming of a garden, mini orchard, and chickens, and a giant apron sink and I believed them. At the very least it would let me believe our hard work in the garden would live on. We aren't all robots after all.
People in this part of SoCal don't have a lot of sense (it's the entertainment capital of the world so what can you expect) and will pay just about anything just to be in a place where they can see and be seen and be "where the action is". As a seller, the only differentiation among buyers for me will be the amount of :moneybag :moneybag :moneybag they are willing to part with. Alternatively, upon selling, when I move to my new area where it will be a buyers market I can most definitely see the benefits of an honest letter stating why I love the place and would make it my home.

rgs92
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by rgs92 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:58 pm

The only thing I would think is useful in a letter is to let the buyers know you have a lot of backup money to go ahead with the purchase in case the house doesn't appraise or repairs are needed.

As a seller, I would certainly rather sell to someone who is not hanging by a financial thread or leveraging themselves to the max so they are in danger of not getting funding. I want to know the transaction will go through without issues even if the price is lower.

beehappy
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by beehappy » Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:16 pm

We attached a letter to our offer for our current home. It was then, and still is, a seller's market. There were 4 other offers. We kept all our contingencies. We weren't the highest offer. Sellers came back and said they really liked our letter, and would rather sell to us if we could bridge some of the gap between our offer and the highest offer. We upped our offer, but did not close the full gap. The sellers ended up leaving us their full house of REALLY NICE furniture for free, more than made up for the added amount we paid. We still use and love this furniture several years later. We wrote an honest letter. It didn't cost us anything. But it definitely tipped the balance in our favor.

stan1
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by stan1 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:09 pm

Helps to understand everyone's motivations. Sometimes sellers have an emotional attachment to their home. They have good memories with family and friends. They raised their kids in the house and want to see someone else do the same. Their neighbors are friends and want someone who is active in the community to live in the neighborhood. If the house is historic they may have put blood, sweat and tears into it as well as money and they want someone to appreciate the home.

If you are just viewing the purchase as a business transaction you might miss these emotional attachments. As a buyer you can sometimes (not always) leverage them. I would not lie but even little things like your daughter having the same name as the seller's granddaughter could help when there are multiple offers.

runner3081
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by runner3081 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:02 pm

mak1277 wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:19 am
Never say never, but I am 99% certain I will never: make an offer above asking price or waive inspection contingency. Those are two things I'm just not comfortable with and I'm willing to miss out on any house that requires it.
Waiving the inspection contingency really only "locks" in your purchase price and doesn't kill your option to get out of the house based on an issue that comes up in inspection.

The sellers were adamant on us waiving that in our current house. Realtor said no big deal - get an inspection done and then decide, based on that if you want to buy or not. There are still plenty of "outs" in the contract with a full return of earnest money.

We had the inspection done, nothing unexpected and we moved forward.

Fortunately for us, the house didn't appraise at our purchase price, (PHX area 2013, appraisals were still catching up to the market) so we split the difference and got it for less anyways :)

barnaclebob
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by barnaclebob » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:25 pm

runner3081 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:02 pm
The sellers were adamant on us waiving that in our current house. Realtor said no big deal - get an inspection done and then decide, based on that if you want to buy or not. There are still plenty of "outs" in the contract with a full return of earnest money.
The only outs we (and I would expect most others) will have are financing, appraisal, and title search/transfer. Of course I could try to sabotage financing by taking out a big car loan and applying for 20 credit cards but then they could come after me for acting in bad faith.

runner3081
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by runner3081 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:26 pm

barnaclebob wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:25 pm
runner3081 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:02 pm
The sellers were adamant on us waiving that in our current house. Realtor said no big deal - get an inspection done and then decide, based on that if you want to buy or not. There are still plenty of "outs" in the contract with a full return of earnest money.
The only outs we (and I would expect most others) will have are financing, appraisal, and title search/transfer. Of course I could try to sabotage financing by taking out a big car loan and applying for 20 credit cards but then they could come after me for acting in bad faith.
You could simply not comply with the lender's requests for data, etc. Financing fails that way.

barnaclebob
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by barnaclebob » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:34 pm

runner3081 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:26 pm
barnaclebob wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:25 pm
runner3081 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:02 pm
The sellers were adamant on us waiving that in our current house. Realtor said no big deal - get an inspection done and then decide, based on that if you want to buy or not. There are still plenty of "outs" in the contract with a full return of earnest money.
The only outs we (and I would expect most others) will have are financing, appraisal, and title search/transfer. Of course I could try to sabotage financing by taking out a big car loan and applying for 20 credit cards but then they could come after me for acting in bad faith.
You could simply not comply with the lender's requests for data, etc. Financing fails that way.
That is also likely acting in bad faith. We had to submit proof of all asset and tax returns etc to get a pre approval letter.

runner3081
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by runner3081 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:39 pm

barnaclebob wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:34 pm
runner3081 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:26 pm
barnaclebob wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:25 pm
runner3081 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:02 pm
The sellers were adamant on us waiving that in our current house. Realtor said no big deal - get an inspection done and then decide, based on that if you want to buy or not. There are still plenty of "outs" in the contract with a full return of earnest money.
The only outs we (and I would expect most others) will have are financing, appraisal, and title search/transfer. Of course I could try to sabotage financing by taking out a big car loan and applying for 20 credit cards but then they could come after me for acting in bad faith.
You could simply not comply with the lender's requests for data, etc. Financing fails that way.
That is also likely acting in bad faith. We had to submit proof of all asset and tax returns etc to get a pre approval letter.
There was a fair amount of work and explanation needed after pre-approval. Let's just put it this way, if we wanted the house and the buyer forced us to waive and there was a major issue, I wouldn't lose any sleep about not completing the financing to kill the deal.

Rashen
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by Rashen » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:50 pm

writing the letters to the sellers remind me of the pre-2007 era in CA, right before the big BOOM.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:23 pm

stan1 wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:09 pm
Helps to understand everyone's motivations. Sometimes sellers have an emotional attachment to their home. They have good memories with family and friends. They raised their kids in the house and want to see someone else do the same. Their neighbors are friends and want someone who is active in the community to live in the neighborhood. If the house is historic they may have put blood, sweat and tears into it as well as money and they want someone to appreciate the home.

If you are just viewing the purchase as a business transaction you might miss these emotional attachments. As a buyer you can sometimes (not always) leverage them. I would not lie but even little things like your daughter having the same name as the seller's granddaughter could help when there are multiple offers.
A previous neighbor down the street asked the buying realtor which people had decided to buy the house, as she didn't recall them looking at it. The realtor replied that they weren't interested in the house, they intended to bulldoze it and build anew. The neighbor replied that she wouldn't sell to someone who couldn't be bothered to walk through the house she had raised her kids in. She killed the offer, and subsequently accepted $100k less from a family who still lives in the house. The money didn't matter to her (she was "well divorced").

When we bought our house, our realtor did not want to show it to us because the seller had a reputation as a crazy woman and the house was in disrepair. When a bathroom no longer worked, she'd move to another bathroom, and had run out of bathrooms so it was time to sell (true story). We got a new realtor and looked at the house. The seller was as advertised, and she was intrigued that if my wife purchased it (long story) in her name, it would be an unbroken line of women's names on the deed. The negotiations were such that our (new) realtor earned every penny of her commission, but in the end my wife's name was on the deed.

I hope to be selling our house in the next year or two. It is a 1920s house, which we've extensively renovated and expanded, but it still has the look and feel of a Tudor. When the buyer's check clears, they can do what they want to with it, but I'd prefer that they use it as a house rather than a building lot (i.e., I'd rather not sell to a developer). A letter might help, but not $100k of help :D . We don't care if a woman's name is the only one on the deed, but it would be a fun story to have a house owned for more than 100 years by a succession of women. The house next door was (round numbers) purchased for $2M, torn down, $1.5M construction, and on the market for $5M.

CAP_theorem
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by CAP_theorem » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:22 pm

Writing a letter paid off for me. There were several offers, but I correctly guessed the price and was one of two identical offers. The offer we were up against waived the inspection contingency and I did not although I did put in in the offer I would not pursue smaller issues below a certain cost to remedy.

The sellers for the house I purchased and their agent did not behave 100% rationally which was good for me. In a competitive market you can write a letter and it's probably not going to hurt.

CAP_theorem
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by CAP_theorem » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:25 pm

Ketawa wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:49 pm
celia wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:22 pm
I think the trustee picked a horrid selling agent as he only had one open house, and buyer's agents had to take their clients over and open the lock box.
This is getting off topic, but isn't this simply how sales work these days? There was another long thread discussing agents recently, and buyers simply don't want the listing agent there during the showing. Also, people don't really care about open houses anymore. I never went to an open house when I was buying my previous home, and the few times that the listing agent, and sometimes even the seller, were present during the showing I didn't like it. When I sold my home, I didn't do an open house, I had a lockbox, and my listing agent only came by to take pictures, check on the place when it was vacant, etc.

I think it's more telling that it sold below the asking price.
Around here when I bought earlier in the year if it's worth buying then it's open house Saturday and Sunday and offers in on Monday.

Texanbybirth
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by Texanbybirth » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:48 pm

We saw our house the day it was back on the market from failed financing on the previous buyers. It was a Friday, and we were bummed about how nice it was because the list price was just out of our reach. After talking with our realtor we decided to make an offer for $15k under list price. We included a picture of our then 6-month old daughter smiling holding the $100 option check. (We weren't going to be able to get them the check that day, but we had it made out to them and everything in the pic while we electronically signed all the docs for the offer.) We were under contract that Sunday for $10k under list price. The house is now worth $100k more than what we paid for it, but the seller isn't hurting because they bought a house 3x as expensive. (He started his own IT firm, probably secretly one of the people on here who needs help allocating the $50MM settlement he just got from selling his business.)

So yeah, we took a gamble by sprinkling in a little pathos with our offer, but it worked out well for us! :D

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:57 pm

mak1277 wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:19 am
Never say never, but I am 99% certain I will never: make an offer above asking price or waive inspection contingency. Those are two things I'm just not comfortable with and I'm willing to miss out on any house that requires it.
You look at two houses - one has an asking price of $190K and the other has an asking price of $210K but they both have all the same features/size/amenities/etc - in fact - perhaps there are some things better about the $190K house (Please adjust these example home prices for your area :) - its all relative). Would you be willing to buy the $210K house if you could talk them down to $205K but not be willing to buy the $190K house (that was listed under market) because you have to negotiate and pay $195K or $200K to outbid another interested party?
You might just be predisposed to the way the real estate market used to work. Personally - these days - I might be more suspicious in this market if I can negotiate a deal below asking than have to pay above.

mak1277
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by mak1277 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:29 pm

DaftInvestor wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:57 pm
mak1277 wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:19 am
Never say never, but I am 99% certain I will never: make an offer above asking price or waive inspection contingency. Those are two things I'm just not comfortable with and I'm willing to miss out on any house that requires it.
You look at two houses - one has an asking price of $190K and the other has an asking price of $210K but they both have all the same features/size/amenities/etc - in fact - perhaps there are some things better about the $190K house (Please adjust these example home prices for your area :) - its all relative). Would you be willing to buy the $210K house if you could talk them down to $205K but not be willing to buy the $190K house (that was listed under market) because you have to negotiate and pay $195K or $200K to outbid another interested party?
You might just be predisposed to the way the real estate market used to work. Personally - these days - I might be more suspicious in this market if I can negotiate a deal below asking than have to pay above.
Again...I said 99% sure, not 100%...obviously in your contrived example I would pick the house I could get for less. In actuality, I would probably offer less than $190 for the $210k house anyway. Every house I have ever purchased was at less than 90% of list price.

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:33 pm

mak1277 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:29 pm
DaftInvestor wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:57 pm
mak1277 wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:19 am
Never say never, but I am 99% certain I will never: make an offer above asking price or waive inspection contingency. Those are two things I'm just not comfortable with and I'm willing to miss out on any house that requires it.
You look at two houses - one has an asking price of $190K and the other has an asking price of $210K but they both have all the same features/size/amenities/etc - in fact - perhaps there are some things better about the $190K house (Please adjust these example home prices for your area :) - its all relative). Would you be willing to buy the $210K house if you could talk them down to $205K but not be willing to buy the $190K house (that was listed under market) because you have to negotiate and pay $195K or $200K to outbid another interested party?
You might just be predisposed to the way the real estate market used to work. Personally - these days - I might be more suspicious in this market if I can negotiate a deal below asking than have to pay above.
Again...I said 99% sure, not 100%...obviously in your contrived example I would pick the house I could get for less. In actuality, I would probably offer less than $190 for the $210k house anyway. Every house I have ever purchased was at less than 90% of list price.
In my town - over the last 12 months - every house has sold for above asking. Times have changed.

mak1277
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by mak1277 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:35 pm

DaftInvestor wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:33 pm
mak1277 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:29 pm
DaftInvestor wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:57 pm
mak1277 wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:19 am
Never say never, but I am 99% certain I will never: make an offer above asking price or waive inspection contingency. Those are two things I'm just not comfortable with and I'm willing to miss out on any house that requires it.
You look at two houses - one has an asking price of $190K and the other has an asking price of $210K but they both have all the same features/size/amenities/etc - in fact - perhaps there are some things better about the $190K house (Please adjust these example home prices for your area :) - its all relative). Would you be willing to buy the $210K house if you could talk them down to $205K but not be willing to buy the $190K house (that was listed under market) because you have to negotiate and pay $195K or $200K to outbid another interested party?
You might just be predisposed to the way the real estate market used to work. Personally - these days - I might be more suspicious in this market if I can negotiate a deal below asking than have to pay above.
Again...I said 99% sure, not 100%...obviously in your contrived example I would pick the house I could get for less. In actuality, I would probably offer less than $190 for the $210k house anyway. Every house I have ever purchased was at less than 90% of list price.
In my town - over the last 12 months - every house has sold for above asking. Times have changed.
I guess it's a good thing I don't need to move anytime soon...times WILL change again, of that I'm sure. I also am not the kind of person who would ever move anywhere that was "hot" ... you won't ever find me in California or New York for instance.

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Watty
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by Watty » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:29 pm

I wonder of accepting a lower offer based on the letter could leave the seller and selling agent open to a discrimination lawsuit.

Carefreeap
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by Carefreeap » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:52 pm

Watty wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:29 pm
I wonder of accepting a lower offer based on the letter could leave the seller and selling agent open to a discrimination lawsuit.
I'm sure someone will try it.

But It's an offer to sell not a guarantee of sale. You would have to prove that that the seller discriminated against the higher offer based on a protected class. So yeah, if a white seller chose an all white family vs a bi-racial homosexual couple which had the same or higher income, credit and down payment as the white family, there could be a case made against the seller or agent or both.

But what most of these stories are telling us is that all things being equal, a buyer may have a slight advantage with a personal letter or at least get an opportunity to match the highest offer.

CurlyDave
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by CurlyDave » Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:04 am

TheGreyingDuke wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:32 am
Put me down as one who is skeptical about the value of most so-called home inspections. There may be exceptions but...
As far as I am concerned most home inspections are useless. DW and I bought a 4-plex about 5 years ago and had it inspected as part of the deal.

Well, about 2 years later we put in a set of security cameras and had to get up into the attic to run wires. What did we discover? There was about two pickup trucks full of literal garbage in the attic that the inspector never even saw, despite claiming that he inspected it. The most disgusting stuff imaginable. 15 year old dirty diapers, used feminine hygiene products, and kitchen garbage. How do I know it was there when the inspection was done? About a dozen empty prescription bottles with dates. Evidently a previous tenant with a young baby could not afford garbage pickup but had a ladder. Up into the attic it went, where it was out of sight and out of mind.

How in the wide world of sports does a professional "inspect" a 1200 sq foot attic and not see two truckloads of garbage?

Fortunately the cost was only an hour of labor and two dump runs, but if there had been a giant hole in the roof with rats the size of border collies frolicking in there, the inspector would not have noticed. The only thing he inspected was his paycheck.

2015
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Re: Personal letters to the sellers of your house can work!!!

Post by 2015 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 1:04 pm

DaftInvestor wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:33 pm
mak1277 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:29 pm
DaftInvestor wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:57 pm
mak1277 wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:19 am
Never say never, but I am 99% certain I will never: make an offer above asking price or waive inspection contingency. Those are two things I'm just not comfortable with and I'm willing to miss out on any house that requires it.
You look at two houses - one has an asking price of $190K and the other has an asking price of $210K but they both have all the same features/size/amenities/etc - in fact - perhaps there are some things better about the $190K house (Please adjust these example home prices for your area :) - its all relative). Would you be willing to buy the $210K house if you could talk them down to $205K but not be willing to buy the $190K house (that was listed under market) because you have to negotiate and pay $195K or $200K to outbid another interested party?
You might just be predisposed to the way the real estate market used to work. Personally - these days - I might be more suspicious in this market if I can negotiate a deal below asking than have to pay above.
Again...I said 99% sure, not 100%...obviously in your contrived example I would pick the house I could get for less. In actuality, I would probably offer less than $190 for the $210k house anyway. Every house I have ever purchased was at less than 90% of list price.
In my town - over the last 12 months - every house has sold for above asking. Times have changed.
Location. Location. Location. The LCOL area I am moving to soon is a buyers market. My current HCOL area is a seller's market for a nanosecond during downturns, then it bounces skyward like a rubber ball.

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