The Art of the Offer Cover Letter: Win the Bid by Sharing Your Story
The cover letter is a strategy we’ve been using at the Paul Augustine Team for many years, but it hasn’t always been part of our process. In fact, the first time I submitted a cover letter to accompany an offer on a property, it was for the home where Beth and I now live with our kids.
Back then, the market wasn’t nearly as competitive as it is now. The property had been on the market for close to five months with very little movement on the asking price — which was about 15% over market value.
In order to submit the offer that we did, we realized that a cover letter was going to be key in showing why we believed it to be a fair price. We made it clear that our offer wasn’t meant to insult or exploit the sellers. Rather, we explained how we arrived at what we believed to be a fair market price, along with comparable sales examples to back up our reasoning.
And it worked!
The cover letter is one of the most effective tools to make your offer stand out from the rest. It comes in handy in situations like I’ve just described, when you may want to use supporting data to justify the number at which you arrived. But it can also be an opportunity to bring in a human element that numbers can’t convey. Or, it can explain unique circumstances that may affect the seller’s decision (read on for examples!).
Don’t expect the cover letter to win you the bid every time, but it certainly can’t hurt — and may give you the edge to get the seller’s ink on your offer.
To write a great cover letter, start with these four steps:
1. Briefly introduce yourself and share part of your story.
Tell the sellers a little bit about who you are. Where do you live now? Where does your family live? Why are you moving? What type of home have you been looking for, and for how long?
2. Explain why you are interested in their home (be specific!).
Be authentic here. Point out things about the home that really stood out to you in the walkthrough. Why do you connect with those things? Can you tie some of the features of the home (its location, its style, a particular room in the house) back to something that you shared about yourself earlier?
3. Take a minute to discuss any important notes about your offer.
If there are unique circumstances that could sway a seller’s decision in your favor, make sure to explain them here. Let’s say you are flexible on the settlement timeline because of your current living situation — that’s something you would want to make clear. Or, if you would be willing to take some of the contents of the home (in an estate sale or absentee owner situation), make mention of that.
This section is also where you should bring in supporting market data if you’re offering below the asking price. This is a rare scenario in our current market, but it still might be useful in certain situations.
4. Wrap it up with a “thank you” and an acknowledgement.
Speaking authentically, thank the seller for taking the time to consider your offer. Acknowledge that they have a difficult decision to make, and that you hope sharing a little bit about yourself helped them better understand why you want to buy their home.
Here is a sample cover letter you can reference when putting together your offer:
“Real Time Real Estate” is a limited blog series by Paul Augustine, Associate Broker at RE/MAX Centre Realtors, written to help you navigate the good and bad in the era of COVID-19.