Competitive housing market forces buyers to get creative

Jene J. Long

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) –It’s a seller’s market in the St. Louis region and it’s been that way for some time. When there are more home buyers than houses on the market it leads to bidding wars and forces some home buyers to get a little creative.

Mary Peters and her husband recently got a handwritten letter in the mail from someone wanting to buy their home. But it didn’t come from a company that wanted to flip their house. It came from a husband and wife who wanted to live in their neighborhood. It included a photo of the family of five.

“They wanted to stay in the area because they wanted their children to go to the elementary school that’s in our subdivision. So we weren’t surprised, we loved it and were honored by it,” she said.

As it turns out, the couple sent out 40 letters in hopes that someone will consider them before putting up a for sale sign. Peters said she has no plans to sell but appreciated the tactic because her daughter had tried the same thing.

Jessica Lowe is a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Alliance Real Estate.

“We call them love letters, love letters to the sellers,” she said.

Lowe said it’s just one of the strategies that home buyers are using to grab the attention or win over the favor of home sellers. She said it’s common for buyers to offer more than the list price and wave inspections. But buyers are also paying closing costs, a seller’s moving expenses and even offering vacations.

“Someone in my office actually had an experience where a seller was offered an all-expense-paid vacation from a buyer if you accept our offer,” said Lowe”

She said another agent had a client who offered $100,000 over the list price, which was 35% more than the list price and was beat out by a buyer who offered more.

Lowe said there’s a growing concern in the industry about the letter-writing tactic because of the potential for violations of fair housing laws. She explained that revealing personal details to a potential buyer runs the risk of the buyer discriminating against someone when choosing an offer.

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