In a competitive market, once you’ve made your strongest possible bid in terms of price and your financing is in order, it’s time to look for more creative ways to get your offer the thumbs up from a seller. From “love letters” to offers to haul trash, there’s more than one way to a seller’s heart. Believe it or not, these methods have been known to trump even higher priced offers.
The best-known way to sway sellers to accept your offer is to send them a love letter about the house. It may seem manipulative, mostly because it is. But when you are fighting for the house you love, you can’t be above a little manipulation. While we all like to think that we’re being rational and logical about major financial transactions like a house sale, the truth is it’s often as much an emotional investment as a financial one. You are asking the seller to turn over their home to you. Chances are they have some happy memories tied up in it and they want to feel like you will appreciate and love it the way they did. Tell them briefly why you love it. Let them know you noticed the loving care they put into it and promise that you will do the same.
It also doesn’t hurt to do some reconnaissance. Your agent can help here by speaking with the seller’s agent to see what might move them. But you can do some on your own. When you initially toured the home, was there anything to indicate you have something in common with the sellers? Maybe shared love of a specific sports team or fine wine? It needs to be something fairly obvious – you don’t want them to think you’re some creeper who was rifling through their drawers. But a “Firefighter of the Year” plaque on the wall might make it worth mentioning if you – or a close family member – are a firefighter. Or if a child’s room is filled with baseball trophies, you can say you noticed that and hope to see your child join the same Little League team. All you need is a little common ground to help them feel a connection with you.
Another sure way to pull heartstrings is to have your children write their own notes, as long as they are genuinely excited about the home. Maybe you are desperately trying to keep from moving out of the school district or trying to get a place with a yard the kids can play in. (Unless your kids are old enough to understand that a rejection of the offer isn’t a rejection of them, you should speak on their behalf.) Let the sellers know it’s not just you, but the whole family who will love their house.
Besides appealing to emotion, you can appeal to a seller’s laziness. Well, not laziness really. Selling a house and moving are a lot of work, no matter what. So what if you can take some of that off their plate? That could be worth some cash. We’ve seen people beat out higher offers by offering to buy all the seller’s unwanted stuff that they couldn’t unload in a garage sale, at the marked price. Other buyers have succeeded just by offering to deal with anything the seller doesn’t want to deal with moving. One person’s garbage could be another person’s key to a new house.
Other buyers have succeeded by offering to pay the seller’s moving expenses or even help them move or even pack. It may seem silly considering that the purchase price dwarfs the cost of hiring movers. But it shows that you understand where they are at and also takes just one more thing off their plates.
Most sellers will need the equity from their current home to purchase a new one. But timing a simultaneous sale and purchase is difficult so they face the prospect of moving to temporary housing while they wait to close on their new home. If that’s the situation your sellers are in, offer to save them the time and hassle of moving twice. Offer them a quick close and then rent the home back to them for a month or more to allow some breathing room. Most sellers in these situations would love that flexibility.
And if you’re currently a renter, you’d likely have to pay your first mortgage payment along with your last rent payment anyway. So if there’s no rush on your end, be open to allowing the sellers to stay in the home. (The rent should cover your mortgage payment.) Your offer will be greatly appreciated and could help your offer become the one they can’t refuse.