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Would you use pet, baby pictures to win that dream house?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis January 18, 2013 06:16 AM

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Home buyers are back to letter writing these days in the hottest metro markets and neighborhoods, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The piece profiles young couples who managed to snag homes in the Silicon Valley - where prices and competition is a step or two above even price-insane Greater Boston - after writing letters and sending personal photos to the owners.

OK, forget about lecturing the owner on price, arguing it's overvalued and how lucky they are that you came along to take their house off the market.

Sounds obvious, but given some of the remarks of the low-ballers who chime in from time to time on the comment board, you can't take anything for granted these days.

Nice works best.

The lead example is a couple who sent along a short letter with a winsome picture of their baby and two dogs sitting by a handwritten sign: 'We would love a big yard!'

Rob and Julia Israch's short but sweet appeal helped them win out in a bidding war for the three-bedroom home in Mountain View, even though their $750,000 bid, while well above listing, was not the highest.

Another couple won out in a bidding war for a $1.1 million ranch in Saratoga, Calif. - yes, those Silicon Valley prices make even Cambridge look reasonably priced - after a pitch letter that included wedding pictures, the Journal notes. Of course, it also helped they had the highest bid. Money still talks, after all.

You want to be sweet, but not sappy - don't overly gush about how great the sellers are, which sound kind of phony anyway, or unload your whole life story, according to a list of helpful hints tucked into the story.

Sounds reasonable to me. But then again, I wonder if relatively shy New Englanders would feel comfortable with this super-personal approach, share-the-baby-photos approach.

We live in a part of the country where striking up a conversation in a public place with a stranger - pretty common elsewhere - will mark you as a simpleton from some sunnier clime or worse, a potential lunatic.

Bidding wars are a fact of life around here as well now, especially in hot markets like Cambridge and Somerville.

Are ready to write a letter to get the home you want? Would you share you baby or pet photos, even your wedding photos, if it would help you get the house you want? Is that even a good idea in the still relatively-reserved, stranger-phobic Boston area?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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