When it was a seller's market just a few years ago and bidding wars were the norm, some buyers resorted to writing love letters to sellers, playing on their heartstrings by saying how living in their home could be the fulfillment of the American dream, or by writing about their urgent need for space for their growing family.
It's important to use this technique only with sellers who are passionate about their homes, because otherwise the letters won't sound authentic, says John Antus of Coldwell Banker Distinctive Homes in Shoreham. "While a letter alone can't sell a home, coupled with a good price it could attract prospective buyers and help them remember a house when all the others start to blur," he says.
Homeowners who have written such letters leave copies at the door during an open house along with all the other information about the property. Some frame it for prospective buyers to see. Others email it to those who have expressed interest.
The letter should always include a photo of the house.
Barrie Dolnick, author of "Simple Spells for Hearth and Home," says she believes that saying goodbye to a home is almost like breaking up and requires a gentle touch. Buyers are likely to feel drawn to a home they believe had a loving family, she says.
Here are six tips for writing the love letter:
Set the mood
First, sit down in your favorite room in the house. Put on music. Then make a list of the positive things about your house that you want to affirm in your letter, advises blogger Therese Borchard, author of the article "8 Tips for Writing a Love Letter to Your Spouse."
Make it personal and positive
It may help to jog your memory by recalling your life in the house season by season: Explain why you fell in love with it when you purchased it; write about the cozy living room where you curled up to read the paper; how you made pancakes in the kitchen; threw Fourth of July parties on the deck; made a marriage proposal; had an anniversary party; brought home a baby from the hospital; or explain how the sun streams in every morning; how the kids played in the backyard and made snowmen; homework at the kitchen table; sleepovers with the grandkids; how you loved to watch birds in the backyard -- anything that captures the good times.
Tell about important places in town
Describe the short distance to a top-rated elementary school your kids attended or the convenience to hospitals, libraries, parks and shopping areas.
Share your favorite haunts
Recommend the places you love to go for dinner or coffee, or a bakery or supermarket that makes free deliveries.
Include the history of your house
Do some research and see if you can get old photos, contracts or deeds, or information about the original owners. Buyers may be intrigued to know how the house transformed over time.
Appeal to a buyers' civic-mindedness
It may be a good idea to include in your love letter even your participation on the school board, in civic groups and with charitable causes, advises Walt Molony, a spokesmen for the National Association of Realtors in Washington, D.C. The group's research found that home ownership fosters involvement in community life and a prospective buyer may be interested in service opportunities.
End with love
Wish the new buyers well to help them imagine living in your house -- for instance, "We wish you the love and good fortune that we had in 40 years of living here." And don't forget to sign your name.