This story can better be called, "the letter writing campaign that got us our dream house in our dream hood"
Last summer, we sold our starter home in a town we loved, ready to move further out into the 'burbs for a bigger house & more land. We had an offer on a new house - got to the inspection, where we discovered the house was clad in permeable stucco... not good. Not good at all. We walked away from the purchase, and sadly shifted the fam to an apartment (not ideal with a 1 year old and a big dog!) while re-starting our search.
After a few months of commuting we discovered around November that we'd made a big mistake moving from our beloved town, so we shifted our geographic parameters back there. Only challenge? We were looking for a single-family home in a town full of lovely twins. There was only one neighborhood that fit the bill, and it was perfect. Sounds easy, right? Wait for a house to come up on the market and then - boom - pounce. But it wasn't that easy (of course!) A house hadn't been listed for over a year in the neighborhood, and the year before, only one. I should tell you too, that by this point we'd parted ways with our agent. She wasn't able to give us any help that Zillow & Trulia couldn't, so we went off on our own to stalk this neighborhood. Hard.
Holidays came & went, spring came - and still no houses came up for sale. We felt pretty darn hopeless. Around the same time, I came across a story on the web about a successful home purchase that started with a letter in a stranger's mailbox asking them to sell their home to them. I figured, what else have we got to lose? And that's how I started my letter.
We went for a walk as a family around the neighborhood one sunny Saturday, pointing out homes we loved and jotting notes about each on my iphone. Trying our best to not act shady, which was hilarious, and hard! We came up with a list of 37 homes, out of the 130 or so, it seemed a decent number. Each letter started out the same, but had a custom note "I loved your porch" or "your fenced in yard would be perfect for our dog" Again, trying not to be creepy. I didn't want them to think I'd looked past their curb appeal!
A day after getting my letter out in the mail, I'd already gotten a phone call back. I ultimately received 5 responses in total - a decent return rate if you ask me! They ranged from "oh thank you, that was so flattering, but we're happy & staying" to "come, have a glass of wine, take a tour - make me an offer I can't refuse"
And then, we got the note that would change our real estate fate. A homeowner wrote me that he was going to be putting the home up for sale by owner in the next few weeks, and we were welcome to an early preview. A few follow ups later & we got to see it. We knew the second we walked in, that it was our house. We were among 3 other couples to walk thru that day (apparently word of mouth got this home some buzz!) by that night, we gave them an offer and it was accepted the next day.
We move into our beloved, fought-for dream home in two weeks. I'm giddily packing boxes as we speak.
I'm sharing this hoping it can help someone else who feels similarly helpless in this low-inventory real estate market. Ask me questions! Happy to help.