How We Won Our Dream House

Tom and I knew we wanted to purchase our first home before Evan arrived. We decided to purchase when we did, since the market in Toronto was (and is) ridiculous. Prices were being blown waaay over asking due to inevitable bidding wars. We were lucky the government put new rules and regulations into place when we were in the market, which helped ease the pain of buying and selling. Both our buy and sell had to be timed just right to avoid having our house search drag on too close or even past Evan’s due date (and good thing since Ev decided to arrive a month early).

We went into house hunting expecting to have to look at over 20 homes and possibly having to place at least 10 different offers before getting a house we wanted. We had heard stories from friends and acquaintances being in the market to purchase for over a year and seeing well over 100 houses, even putting in over 25 offers! Thankfully, that was not the case. Phew!

Tom and I saw a total of seven homes over 2 days in the month of May (one Saturday and on a Wednesday). After the first round of house visits on the Saturday, I had little hope about finding something both Tom and I would love and that wouldn’t mean giving up a lot of what we really wanted in our future family home. After all, this would be the largest purchase we make together, and we planned on living in our new home for the next 20+ years. So, I didn’t want to have to give up on a lot just for the sake of buying a home out of fear we wouldn’t find the house of our “dreams.”

One thing we seemed to have working against us, other than a very possible bidding war situation, was a closing date that was at least 90 days from the date of purchase. We needed a posession date a minimum of a month after Evan’s expected arrival, but it was tough to find due to when we were looking to purchase.

On the second day of house visits (the Wednesday) is when we knew we had found a home that hit all the important needs and wants on our list.  We were very fortunate that the home owner was home when we went for our visit. We took the opportunity to talk to her and find out the history of her time here and also to answer questions that were not answered in the listing. One VERY important piece of information was the closing date. It was listed as “TBD” but the home owner ended up telling us at the end of November is when she would like to move. NOVEMBER! That was perfect!

While on our way home, we decided we needed to put in an offer. We were hoping to present an early offer before the listed bidding date, but thanks to our (amazing) realtor, we found out pre-emptive offers were not being accepted and that there was an early offer that was presented, but rejected because it was not what the home owner wanted. This put a real damper on our offer plans. We realized we would have to go in near the top end of our budget with a small amount of wiggle room and sad we might loose out on this awesome house in a bidding war.

When we first started our house hunt talks with our realtor, she mentioned that buyers sometimes include a personal letter with their offer, but it wasn’t guaranteed to work. It helps, but not all sellers will consider them. Regardless, I knew I had to try. So, I got to work and put together a letter using all the information we were privy to during our little chat with the home owner and thought “how can we connect with her?”

This was our letter:

When offer night came around the following Tuesday, we submitted our offer along with our letter and kept our fingers and toes crossed, knowing there were about 6 offers being presented. We were told we would hear back about an hour after the submission deadline. Over an hour had passed. Tom looked at me and said “so, I guess no news is bad news?” and at that moment my phone rang. It was our realtor. She started the conversation off sounding a bit somber “how’s it going?” Great…we didn’t get it, I thought. “So..” she continued, “congratulations, you got the house!” Whaaaat!? NO second or third round of offers to go through?! Amazing and such a relief! Our realtor was equally excited. She said we are the luckiest people she knew. She hadn’t had a sale (of our condo) go so well OR the purchase of a home take such a short amount of time – only 7 homes viewed and the purchase offer not being the highest, yet coming out on top. Turns out the two things that made our offer the winner were our offer letter and closing date. It was meant to be and we couldn’t be happier!

Tom, Evan and I moved in a month before Christmas. It was super busy and stressful given we had Evan to look after all while packing up, moving, and unpacking and settling into our new home – all right before the holidays. I think back and wonder “what the heck were we thinking?!” I don’t recommend moving with a baby, but that’s a whole other blog post. All-in-all it was worth it because we have settled into our new home and are slowly making it our own – giving it a bit of a facelift until we move on to the real renovations over the next several years.

What tips do I have for others looking to submit a personal letter with their purchase offer?

  • Take time to talk to the home owner and neighbours if they are around when you visit the property
  • Be honest and genuine
  • Make it personal
  • Be complementary to the home owner
  • Don’t beg or use language like “you need/have to” or “I/we deserve it” or similar
  • Thank them for taking the time for reading your letter
  • And while you’re at it, put positive vibes and some good intention behind your words while your write your letter.

Then hope for the best. Know that if you do get it, then yay!! But, if not, it wasn’t meant to be and what’s meant for you is better than you can imagine and it’s out their waiting for you.

Do you have a neat home purchase or selling story? Did you try something completely unheard of or have general tips on house hunting? Would love to hear all about it. If you have any questions for me about our house hunting experience and process, I’m happy to share!

 

HELPFUL LINKS:

Everything you need to know about writing an offer letter

How to write an offer letter for a house

How to write an offer letter that will win sellers over

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