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Buyers resort to 'sympathy' letters in competitive housing market

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Posted at 4:05 PM, May 17, 2021

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — The housing market in Tampa Bay is so competitive these days that prospective buyers are doing whatever they can to stand out.

Sometimes the deal is about more than just money.

John Camacho and his family have had a lot of trouble finding their dream home.

"Man, it's crazy. There's no inventory out there. You go and look for a house, and you see it just opened. When you go to see it, you call the realtor [and] it already has an offer," said Camacho.

The Camachos found a house in Land O'Lakes, but in this competitive market, John knew he'd have to do something extra.

So he wrote what's known in the real estate business as a buyer sympathy letter or a love letter.

His letter included information about his family and why they wanted to live in the neighborhood.

"How our kids would enjoy the pool every day. How we have two kids, and how we saw them growing in that house," he said.

He added some family pictures and one more enticement in the postscript.

"Since I'm a chiropractor, I said we will give you adjustments, free adjustments for life if you choose our offer."

As it turned out, there were 38 offers on the house they wanted, and the Camacho's didn't get it.

Realtor Anne Bromberg says she's seeing more sympathy letters than ever before.

"The sellers definitely read them. They definitely take it into consideration," said Bromberg.

She says one of her clients actually took a lower offer because they were compelled by a letter.

"Some see it more as a business decision. And some, their heartstrings are tugged."

But according to Realtor.com, these kinds of letters could open realtors and their clients to fair housing violations.

That's because the letters could reveal things about the buyer, like race or religion.

It's against the law to accept or reject an offer because of those characteristics.

Some realtors are actually including "no buyer love letters" in the seller notes.

Meanwhile, John and his family found another house and got it without writing another letter.

"We took a chance on a house, they accepted it. So we are happy to say we are just waiting for everything to go through," said Camacho.

If you're interested in writing a letter of your own, here are some resources on how to write one: