My Next Move

Personal Letter Lands a Home Sale



When Lorena Larez and her family needed to move out of their home in San Luis Obispo, Calif., to be closer to her husband's new job, selling was the least of their worries. It's what the move might mean to their children that worried her most.

"We have two young daughters, so we were leery about what that would entail," she says.

But as Lorena quickly learned, even in today's bewildering market, a little kindness goes a long way in buying the perfect house.

"After the process started, our home sold within the first week on the market. In a depressed market, that was great," she says. The real challenge, however, was finding a new home--and fast.

The family started looking at foreclosures for sale in the city of Clovis, Calif. The neighborhood had everything they wanted: great schools, close proximity to work and gorgeous homes. But try as they might, they couldn't close a deal.

"We bid on several foreclosures...and we were outbid every time, by $5,000 or $10,000," Lorena says.

After three unsuccessful tries, she gave up on foreclosures altogether and started searching for conventional listings. And when it came time to place an offer on the next property--a bright and sunny family home on a cul de sac--Lorena approached the purchase not just as a prospective buyer but also as the mother of young children.

Along with the offer, Lorena submitted a personal letter and a family photograph to the seller. In it, she described how one of her daughters had helped find the house and "was looking forward to having pool parties." The very next day, the sellers accepted the offer, telling Lorena that they really appreciated the sentiment. It turns out that the sellers had children too and liked the idea of the home going to another family. And that's not even the best part.

"The other person who was bidding, their offer was $10,000 over ours. But because of our letter and the photo, they chose us," Lorena says.

After the sale, the sellers remained in the community and even attend the same church as Lorena and her family. They still keep in touch.

In the end, the most important lesson Lorena took away from the experience is that personal touches make all the difference. And, when it comes to buying a home, sometimes selling yourself doesn't hurt either.

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