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Tag Archives: buyers

A love letter to a house

In Toronto’s red hot housing market, buyers who want to close a deal might want to brush up on their letter writing skills.

Judith Timson – Toronto Star

Pssst! Wanna win a bidding war in the sizzling hot Toronto real estate market? You’ve seen your dream house – with a charcoal and white state of the art kitchen and a little jewel of a garden – and you’re sick with desire. But with a lineup of potential buyers ready to up the ante to ruinous heights, how are you going to close the deal?

Here’s my advice. Go in with a light touch, but one that has emotional resonance. Toggle between the universal and the particular. The first paragraph sets the tone. Identify what you and the seller have in common-love of family, a sports background – and let that theme echo throughout.

What? You thought I was going to give you financial advice – negotiating tips or when to protect yourself from a money pit disaster? Of that I know little.

But I do know how to write. So when I got a real estate flyer not too long ago with the coy come on, “Can a Love Letter Win a House Bid?” it occurred to me I could take advantage of this overheated market and its desperate players by writing their love letters for them.

Comment: Personally, I think this sort of things is corny. Letters, home made donuts, puppies… buyers are throwing any and everything at sellers, trying to get the house. I have bad news. It is really only about the money. A personal note might help if 2 parties are still deadlocked after 3 rounds of bidding, neither willing to throw in any more money. But even then, I have my doubts.

Toronto real estate
At first I thought, go literary. For a grand traditional home, why not something along the lines of How Do I Love This House, Let Me Count the Ways: “I love your house to the depth and double lot breadth and of course height of those ceilings.”

Then I contemplated something more modern for a renovated semi in an emerging area, with an Adele lyric (no not “Rolling in the Deep,” that’s for the bank.) “I know you haven’t made your mind up yet/But we will never do this house wrong/I’ve known it from the moment we met/No doubt in our minds where we belong.”

I got in touch with realtors Jerry Sandler and Ann MacNaughton, who cover central Toronto for Royal LePage Urban Realty. Did they really think, as their flyer put it, that a love letter from the buyers “that tells who they are and why they love the house, letting the owners know how they’ll fit into the neighbourhood” would score a house? Or as the flyer concluded “it can’t hurt and it just might help!” (Lots of exclamation marks in real estate flyers.)

MacNaughton conceded in an email the empirical data on the love letter approach is slim. In fact the one time they heard about someone trying it “on a particularly hot property, with 15 offers presented” an agent produced a handwritten letter from the buyer’s daughter. “While it was charming and touching, it didn’t make the difference.” But, said MacNaughton, “you never know – when competing offers are close, a love letter might just be enough to tip the scale!”

Comment: And be careful with personal meetings. I have had client sellers love bidders, and hate others. When they don’t meet them, they don’t care either way.

In my view, the only thing guaranteed to tip the scale is money. I began to think my business idea might not have legs after all, that in fact the “love letter to a house” might be fodder for satire, something that MacNaughton’s daughter, playwright and director Kat Sandler, the current IT girl of the Toronto theatre scene, could make into one of her hilariously vicious urban comedies. (How about a stalker love letter: “I stood outside your house again last night in the pouring rain and had to stop myself from waking you up to say you know I’m the one, just sign the damn bid…”)

Comment: Yup, the biggest offer is the one that will get the house. Every time. Guaranteed.

But then I spoke to Shea Warrington of Homeward, a realtor who assured me that a personal letter had worked for her buyer, that sellers do care who gets a beloved house. It was from the teenage son of the buyers – “both PhD’s” – on a house worth nearly a million. According to Warrington, it was very touching, with a reference to “how he hadn’t had a backyard growing up.”

“A teenage boy would take it upon himself to write a personal letter about a house his parents wanted to buy?” I asked with some skepticism. “Well I can’t remember who suggested it,” replied Warrington. “I might have.” Out of five offers, she said, two were close, and the buyers with the hyper articulate teenage son won out.

Comment: Like I said, it only matters if you are close. Had the lowest offer sent a letter as well, they would still be looking for a house. Nice words are nice and all, but $50,000 or $100,000 is a LOT of money.

Let’s face it, said Warrington, “real estate is very emotional and we always try to present a story.”

Warrington says she’s tried the letter approach twice. A close friend of mine, in fact, received a handwritten letter from one of Warrington’s clients, again from a teenage boy saying he wanted to be closer to his high school and that his family would take good care of the house.

“I didn’t even want to look at it” said my friend, who found the added emotional quotient uncomfortable. She eventually read it – AND they sold the house to the letter-writing family. In that case, there had only been one offer.

OK. This could work. Maybe not for buyers and sellers, but definitely for me. Attention desperate house buyers, for a reasonable rate, I will write your “love letter to a house.” If you happen to have a teenage son, let’s go with that.

Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.