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Personal Letter To Seller

Dear Phyllis,
We have been making offers on La Crescenta homes for the last six months. Initially, our Realtor suggested that we include a personal letter to the seller with our offer. We have one and we revise it for each home. Even with this we have been turned down on the four offers we have made.  On the most recent home our Realtor said we didn’t need to write the personal letter. He said they are no longer being used. 

Is this true and if so, why would that be?
~ Hopeful home buyer

Dear Hopeful,
I am sorry that you haven’t yet had success on getting an offer accepted. In today’s Los Angeles real estate market, a complete offer includes the purchase contract and supporting documents. The supporting documents are prequalification/preapproval and verification of funds sufficient to close escrow.

As far as the homebuyer writing a personal letter to the seller, I have always had mixed feelings. When representing a seller, I often suggest to my client that they look at the letter after they decide which offer they choose. This letter is not verified information. It could simply be something that the buyer thinks the seller wants to hear. I have heard stories where the buyer has written a letter to heirs noting that they love the home, will cherish it and then upon ownership have torn it down.

To avoid the appearance of discrimination, when using the personal letter to the seller it should not include photos. But what about marital status, children, no children? Who is to say that a choice was not made favoring a buyer with children over a nontraditional household? 

The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing against persons in protected classes. Protected classes include: color, ancestry, nation origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and/or expression, primary language, immigration status, military/veteran status, and age. 

We have all heard the urban legend where the homebuyer letter to the seller swayed the seller into accepting tens of thousands of dollars less. While I am sure this has happened, in 30 years of selling real estate, I have never found this to be true. To avoid any appearance of discrimination, I agree with your agent and don’t believe personal letters should be used.