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A 50-Cent Postage Stamp May Be Your Best Weapon in a Bidding War for a Home

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Pile of old letters with envelopes.
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We already know the pen is mightier than the sword, but when it comes to buying a home, it can also hold its own against the almighty dollar.

According to The Wall Street Journal, sending a heartfelt letter to the seller along with your offer during a bidding war can boost your chances of getting your dream home by 52.2%. The stat comes from an analysis of 14,000 mortgage offers written by agents at real estate brokerage Redfin.

And the best part is a letter doesn’t cost you a cent over what you can afford.

How a Heartfelt Letter Helps You Win a Bidding War

Obviously, emotions play a significant role in the decision to sell a home.

This is your chance to help the seller see that there is a human behind the offer and help them picture how you and your family will love the home as much as much as their family did.

But there’s more at play than emotions, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“In addition to flattering a seller’s ego — or assuring him or her the home will be cared for — a letter can also signal that the buyer is serious, which translates into a willingness to follow through even if hurdles come up in the sales process,” the report said.

Of course, even the most soul-bearing letter has its limits. Making a cash offer or agreeing to forfeit your deposit if you can’t get approved for a mortgage will likely trump even the kindest letter.

How to Write a Winning Letter to a Seller

There’s lots of advice out there on how to write a letter that will sway a seller in your favor. The most common piece of advice is to find a way to show that you have common ground with the seller. A seller will be more compelled to choose you out of a sea of offers if they can identify with you and the life you plan to live in their home.

But there are a few other bits of advice to keep in mind when you craft your note:

1. Show Genuine Emotion

Whether you’re newlyweds, new parents or retirees, if you’ve already started picturing your life inside the home, let the sellers see that, Time suggests. That little bit of emotion can show sellers how serious you are about creating a life in the home once it’s yours.

2. Leave Out Your Remodeling Plans

Even if you absolutely love a house, there may be a few things inside you plan to change to make it more your own. Investopedia suggests leaving these details out. Mentioning them could suggest you are not so thrilled about the home and leave the seller thinking you plan to destroy something they feel emotionally attached to.

3. Print a Hard Copy

We all get emails all day long from our bosses, banks and bill collectors. While a heartfelt one could go a long way, taking the extra step to print the letter and deliver it to the seller with the offer could help your note stand out from the pack even if your competition decides to pour out their hearts too, Redfin said.

Desiree Stennett is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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