From the WSJ:
Rob and Julia Israch won a fierce bidding war for a three-bedroom townhouse in Mountain View, Calif., late last year even though their $750,000 offer—while $92,000 above the asking price—was topped by 11 rivals and was several thousand dollars below the highest bid.
A key reason: The seller, software engineer Lev Stesin, was moved by a letter in which the Israchs said they worked in the technology industry and explained how the home’s spacious layout would be perfect given the imminent arrival of their first child. Among other things, the townhouse has three bathrooms, a wood-burning fireplace and a roomy backyard.
“I felt very comfortable with these people,” said Mr. Stesin, himself the father of a toddler. “I really wanted this place to go to somebody in a similar situation.”
In an echo of the last housing boom, ardent pitch letters from eager home buyers are popping up again in hot U.S. real-estate markets like Silicon Valley, Seattle, San Diego, suburban Chicago and Washington, D.C., housing economists and real-estate brokers say.
The heartfelt missives, often accompanied by personal photos, aim to create an emotional bond that can give their writers an edge—especially in situations where multiple bidders are vying for the same house. And the reappearance of buyer pitches, also known as love letters, offers further evidence that the housing market is rebounding after a five-year slump.
“The market has gotten so crazy that money alone doesn’t talk,” explained Glenn Kelman, chief executive of Redfin, a real-estate brokerage that operates in 19 markets. In 2012, 70% of the offers handled by Redfin agents faced competing bids. In Silicon Valley, the figure was 95%.
A few years ago, the owners of an older Los Altos home got more than 21 offers and picked the one from a woman who also submitted a love letter from her dog, said Kathy Bridgman, an Alain Pinel Realtors agent who represented the sellers.
“She won’t touch a thing,” promised the letter, signed with a paw print. “I will be able to play in the yard.”
After closing, the buyer immediately tore down the home and built a bigger one.