Homebuyers in Alexandria, Virginia: Is a Home Love Letter Necessary... or Illegal?

paper heart on twine

Photo from Debby Hudson on Unsplash


Homebuyers and their agents in Alexandria, VA,  have had their work cut out for them over the last several years, and favorable trends don't look like they are heading their way soon. The extreme scarcity of available homes remains, and interest rates are at their highest in recent memory, making an expensive Alexandria market even more so.


Here’s what homebuyers are up against in some of the most popular and competitive parts of The City of Alexandria and Fairfax County. Following are home price ranges in several areas. 


These home sale prices seem unimaginable to some homebuyers, thanks to the country’s overall housing shortage and pent-up buyer demand over the pandemic, but elevated interest rates only slightly diminish the competition. Motivated buyers aren’t leaving any stone unturned, and the solutions to finding a home are unprecedented. 


Beyond the standard (or maybe new standards) tactics for enticing sellers, like skipping appraisals and inspections and handing over cash offers, what more can a homebuyer do to snag a house for sale? Details such as meeting the seller’s preferred move timeline and possible rent-back scenarios matter. 


Writing a home offer letter to the owner seems to be the trick for some buyers in a competitive bidding situation.  




Photo from Pixabay

What Is a Home Love Letter, and How Do Buyers Use Them to Compete?

Homebuyers are adding what they think is a glimmer of hope to their offers by including what is known as a home offer letter or a “love letter.” They typically explain why the sellers should choose them to become the lucky buyers. 


Everything, including descriptions of their families, intentions of what they plan for the house, military status, and even pictures, accompany the note—all to make a unique connection with the seller. 


There’s a divide among buyers, sellers, and agents regarding what they think about writing offer letters. Some perceive letters as an effective marketing tool that adds a personal touch to the home-selling process and often leaves an unforgettable impression on the homeowner. Yet others feel the potential for blatant and unintentional discrimination is too large to encourage the practice.


Reasons Why Home Love Letters Work


Selling a home is often emotional, not just for the buyers. Sellers have varied life circumstances that often lead to home-selling decisions made from the heart instead of the bottom line when it comes to the home they love or, in some cases, they can’t wait to be rid of. 


Many times, sellers look for the comfort factor a love letter provides. A human element makes the transaction easier if the sellers feel their property is going to someone who will cherish it as they did. 


If there’s a chance a well-written letter pushes a buyer to the top of the pile, many agents will honor their buyer’s request to add the personalization. 


Love letters achieve results. Just ask Karen Hall, Principal Broker and co-founder of Foxtrot Company. She’s had buyers use them to secure their homes.


“Especially in a market as competitive as we have been experiencing this year, everyone is striving for a way to make their offer stand out to a seller, even if you don’t know the reason why the seller is choosing to list their home, you do know the reason why you and your family want to buy it. Relaying your story to the seller could appeal to their emotional side.”


An effective home offer letter focuses on the positive traits of the house. Buyers might mention amenities such as:


  •  The well-landscaped backyard is perfect for entertaining.
  • The light-filled and updated kitchen checks the top must-have features.
  • Prefer to buy a home with green and cost efficiencies such as new windows and low-flow toilets. 
  • The sun porch is perfect for a collection of house plants.


covered front porch

Photo from Canva

Reasons to Leave Home Love Letters Alone


There is plenty of room for argument against adding personal details to the offer. At its worst, a letter could violate Fair Housing laws forbidding discrimination against protected classes, which include race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status. 


Most sellers don’t actively discriminate against specific buyers, but similarities, such as religion, race, or familial status, could inadvertently draw connections between the two parties. 


As for the seller’s reaction to the note, that’s a gamble. Some don’t appreciate the extra pressure of fulfilling the lifelong dreams of would-be buyers. Others won’t respond to the blatant salesmanship because their agent is likely advising them to make a sound business decision instead of an emotional choice. Some sellers' agents stipulate that no letters will be accepted. 


The National Realtors Association released their point of view in Love Letters or Liability Letters? and suggests how agents should advise their buyers against writing a letter to add to their offer. 


As the sellers’ market rages on, buyers continue to look for any competitive advantage they can find. If history holds true, Alexandria properties will remain in demand and certainly retain their value and more, leading to the continued use of creative home-buying methods. 


By Dawn M. Smith