A Tip To Help You Get More Offers Accepted

by | BiggerPockets.com

As real estate investors we make our money when we BUY property, so with that being said, we must buy them right!  If we do not buy the property correctly up front, we will never make the deal work in the end.(Tweet This!)  I think one of the most difficult things new people have to get used to is offering a low number on a house.  They usually feel embarrassed, or even “slimy”, offering someone 50¢ on the dollar or less for a house.  Lets face it, most sellers are very unrealistic with what they feel their home is worth.

They are usually emotionally attached and need some time to “tenderize” (a popular term in our office), to understand that it is NOT worth top dollar as they initially thought. Time has a finny way of making us realize what things are really worth and accepting the truth no matter how bad it is.

How Can We Present a Low Offer, Without Being Insulting or Embarrassed?

If I am going to punch you in the gut, but I tell you first, at least you will have time to prepare and tense up those abs!  It may still hurt, but not as much as if you were just lying there taking a nap and I pummeled you!  A technique we have used since the beginning is to add a cover letter to our offers when needed.  First off, nothing really beats a good conversation with the seller in which you are a great listener and look for the way you can solve their problem.  People WILL sell to people they like for less money simply because they like you.  I know this for a fact from dozens of real life examples.  Be their friend, solve their problem, start to soften them up to a realistic offer from the first conversation so when you are ready for the main offer, it will not be like a punch in the gut while napping!

Letter We Recently Used:

We recently placed on offer on a home in a great neighborhood.  I was contacted by the listing agent, with whom I have developed a great relationship over the years.  She let me know that there have been NO offers, and the sellers who are out of state would like to unload the home by winter.  It was obviously an estate, and sadly, the family installed a toilet in the kitchen to help the parents.

Yes, you read correct … a TOLIET IN THE KITCHEN!!

I am not on the board of health, but I am thinking this may not pass some type of code!!  Well, my contention is that this house will sit for a lot longer due to that and other reasons.  I was not able to speak to the sellers directly and our offer was for $100K less than asking.

Here is the Letter We Attached to Our Offer:

Dear Trustee,

I want to thank you for the opportunity to place an offer on your home .  As this is an estate, we assume you have lost someone special to you.  We want to tell you we are very sorry for your loss.  We are a locally family owned and well-recognized real estate investment company here in the Capital Region.  I say that because we in no way want this offer to come across as insulting.  We wanted to put this letter with the offer to explain why our offer is much lower than your asking price.

First of all, I am sure that in its day, it was a lovely home.  It has many unique and charming characteristics.  We are the kind of company that can bring back all of those characteristics and create a beautiful new home for another family to build their dreams in.  I want to point a few of the homes current shortcomings, only so you can see the incredible amount of work it actually needs:

  • Roof is marginal, and upon further inspection will most likely need to be replaced
  • Electric Service is a fuse system and will never pass any house inspection.  A full replacement is needed
  • All 2 prong electrical outlets need to be replaced with 3 prong grounded outlets
  • All exterior soffits and siding needs to be re-painted, as it is all peeling
  • All wallpaper needs to be stripped including challenging ceilings that have wallpaper
  • All interior walls need to be re-painted
  • Garage door and frame has rot and will need to be replaced
  • Front granite steps have settled and patches have been attempted, but will need to be correctly fixed
  • All windows need to be replaced
  • All hardwood floors need to be refinished
  • Many trees in the front need to be removed and all others need a major trimming to show the house
  • Landscaping needs a major overhaul, as it is badly over grown
  • Toilet in the kitchen needs to be removed and plumbing removed
  • Kitchen will need to be gutted and completely remodeled and electrical brought up to code
  • Bathrooms are the same as the kitchen, they need to be gutted and completely remodeled
  • As we are removing the kitchen toilet, we will need to relocate a new bathroom in the mudroom area
  • All new plumbing and electrical that is required for the relocation of the half bath
  • The back outside patio is also in rough shape and may need to be repaired to please a new buyer

We are in business to make money.  We estimate the house will be listed for $299,000 when fully renovated, plus of course we need to spend a lot of money to get it to a condition to demand that price tag.   Plus, we have many holding costs, buying and selling costs, and on and on. I am also sure we will uncover other repairs needed as we renovate, but this is a solid list to show you the work needed.  Another thing that is very important for us is timing.  As you know, winter could be here any minute in this lovely state!  I say that sarcastically as we are not fans of winter weather. 

We will need to get started on this project immediately as time is totally against us.  If it takes a long time for a decision and a closing, the deal will no longer be good for us.  So we are hopeful that you will understand that.  I am sure you do not wish to hold the home any longer either.  I am sure you are well aware that every day you hold the home, it costs you with taxes, insurance, maintenance, etc.  We are well aware of these holding costs because we pay them on all of our homes.  At the moment we have over 20 houses we are working on.  Please feel free to visit our website and look at our “Before and After” page.  It will give you a good idea of our work.  Many people choose to sell to us because we are very easy to work with.  We will not ask for any inspections.  We never back out of deals once made, and we make the process very quick and simple for the sellers.  You can have the money in your hands in as little as a week and be able to close this chapter of your lives.  If you wish, we always welcome the family back for a private tour of the home once renovated.  If you are too far away, we will supply all pictures and a video, if that is of interest to you.

Certainly you can hold out and try to get more for the home but with the list above I do believe it will sit for a lot longer.  Any buyer will have a difficult time getting a mortgage with the electrical service the way it is.  I am sure the toilet in the kitchen was much needed for the situation, but when buyers see that, they are turned off immediately.  I do think the house will sit much longer and cost you a lot more money in holding costs and risk of freezing pipes, break-ins etc.  (I say this because it has happened many times to us on vacant houses). Please seriously consider our offer and remember this is a simple cash offer with no contingencies. If you have been wanting to close this chapter of your life, this could be it.  Thank you for your time and consideration.        

Outcome of Our Letter and Offer:

Well I am sure you are all wanting to know how we did, and of course because I am using this example it was a huge success!!  NOT!!  They rejected our offer immediately!  Their exact response was “We are not that desperate yet”.  However, I am a patient man (don’t ask my wife that question) and I will wait them out.  Notice they said “YET”.  Winter will be upon us soon and then taxes will be due again, heating bills will skyrocket, the house will be vulnerable as it is vacant and when they are ready, I will still be here.  They need time to tenderize and come to grips with the reality of their situation.  By writing a cover letter it sets us apart from all the other vultures who simply send a low offer and usually just offend people.  Try to develop a rapport with the sellers and set yourself apart as a real person who is trying to help them while also running a business for yourself and family.  I know you will get more offers accepted than you can imagine.

Remember, people do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care. (Tweet This!)

Photo Credit: Lotus Carroll

About Author

Glenn Schworm

Glenn and his wife Amber are the owners of Signature Home Buyers , located in upstate New York. They have bought and sold over 100 houses and counting since beginning in 2008. They are also the proud parents of 3 amazing kids and love to travel the globe, scuba dive, skydive and basically live life to the fullest!


  1. Brandon Turner

    Great tip Glenn! (er… Dave?. … ) 🙂

    Thanks for this. I LOVE when people teach some of the actionable things they are doing in their business. It’s great to pick up ideas like this so everyone can learn and grow together. Keep rockin’ it with these great posts!


    (And sorry again for mis-publishing! 19 people who saw this before the change were a bit confused…)

  2. Great post Glenn – thanks for sharing your letter word for word!

    I’ve got almost zero knowledge of NLP, but I was just listening to an old Tony Robbins audio a few days ago in which he was explaining it a bit. He basically says some folks will react to fear and others to more positive emotions when you’re selling them on something.

    Just curious if you think it would’ve worked if the letter painted a picture of the sellers being happy to finally have the problem house sold instead of focusing on all the problems the house had.

    • Glenn Schworm

      Hi Dave,

      I believe the letter does address both sides. It lets them know the issues to justify the price and then talks about getting past all of this simply and easily. We want them to know they can have peace by closing this chapter of their lives. At the end of the day different people respond to different letters and it is a crap shoot! I like having something rather than nothing. Hope that helps. Thanks for the post!


    • Glenn Schworm

      Hey Sharon,

      In this case I did not have their contact info and knew the agent well so I trusted her to make our case. Even if I do have the ability to speak with them, I like to talk first, then follow up with the letter on the offer if needed. I think people tend to digest the info better when reading and not “half” listening, if you know what I mean. I do not do this every time, usually only when outside agents are involved and I want to explain my low offer. I have been to many homes after we have made the initial offer and seen our letter on the table so it at least opened the door to my low offer. Hope that helps…nice to hear from you as always.


      • Glenn-

        I have followed up with a letter before especially if their were multiple people involved with the sale. I always prefer making the offer verbally first though. That is when I like to try to answer their concerns and/or objections. My worry is always that putting too much of that detail in a letter will cause them to go with the investor that has a much simpler conversation with them; one that in that moment is easier for them to understand. Great post.


    • Personally, I think the toilet should be required to be within arm’s reach of the fridge if it’s in the kitchen. Install a television nearby and *presto* you have the perfect man cave! Beer, football, and bodily functions without ever having to move….

      Seriously though…a toilet in the kitchen!?! Can’t imagine why the property has not sold.

      • Was this toilet just in the middle of the floor?
        Not even in a closet?
        I have seen plenty of “Quarter” baths that are just former pantries they put just a toilet in and you wash your hands in the kitchen sink.

        Utilitarian but not the worst option for a home owner if they have limited space and a limited budget to add a bathroom.

  3. Another vote for letters here! My husband and I use them for investments. In fact, we ended up with our current home by writing the owners a letter to see if they would consider selling. And thanks for sharing your letter, Glenn! Hope you get the house!

    • Glenn Schworm

      Hey Mark,

      Totally agree. I did that one time early in my career and realized quickly it was a total waste of time. We cut our teeth on a lot of REO’s but now I think they are very overpriced. Anyways, thanks for the comments brother. Have a great weekend.

        • Glenn Schworm


          Each case is different, if it is an estate and I sense that emotions are at work, I like to let them know who we are and how we are different, even invite them back to see a finished product. When emotions are in play, I like to write a letter, when there are no emotions and it is all numbers then no letter is needed. Hope that helps.

  4. Thank you for this article. I will be using this advice when I write my next offer. A cover letter makes a lot of sense. You can explain your position without offending the seller.

  5. Thanks for posting the letter Glenn. I rarely use letters with my offers but have found that they can help in certain situations. Generally, I “soften” them up when I meet them to view their property and then make a verbal offer over the phone. But in a case that I don’t have contact with the sellers, I’ve used letters and think it’s a great way to create some rapport with the sellers.

    On a separate thought, I checked out your website and it looks like you and your wife are killing it by your number of projects! I’m curious as to what marketing strategy you have found to work best to bring in motivated sellers?

        • Glenn Schworm

          LOL, we have a nice little picture ad, costs about $650 a month that syndicates in about 10 local papers. Seems to make the phone ring about 6-10 times a month. I think we have done at lease one deal from them and we netted about $20K profit from that deal, so we keep it running. Took many months to gain traction though. First 6 months we had nothing.

  6. Great article.
    I have not tried doing this but seems like a smart tactic in the right situation.
    Actually do recall seeing this advice in some books I read many moons ago.

    They were also the ones that said you could get a new bank loan on a place after getting the seller to carry back a 2nd so you could put nothing into it. Those must have been the days! 🙂

    • Glenn Schworm


      I am about to do another post on it. Funny thing, got a call last week with a counter, we settled on $162K. Agent offered to take less commission to make it work, she and i have done many deals in the past and since she was getting both sides, she wanted t make it work. Close next week. Honestly, I never thought it would come through! You never know, right! Enjoyed your Red Sox article today!


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