Cold call letters solicit older homeowners to purchase their homes

With demand for homes out pacing supply in many neighborhoods, prospective buyers are sending unsolicited letters and post cards to the owners of homes they'd like to buy. The appeals can make you feel like you're sitting on a gold mine.

Some can sound like the solution to your money problems. But before you decide to sell your home to someone who contacts you out of the blue- do your homework.

Home buyers on the hunt figure the personal touch will get your attention, and maybe the response they're looking for. Many are hand-addressed and even hand written. Some offer to buy your home even if you're behind on payments. Some promise all cash for your home "as-is."

Some senders are forthcoming and disclose right off the bat that they're real estate brokers in search of homes for clients who want to buy in your neighborhood.

Local real estate broker Shari Kruse says cold call letters can be a very smart way for house hunters to connect with you. Just remember, many people who send real estate cold call letters have no intention of moving into the home..

"An investor or a flipper is going to be looking to buy a home for the least possible price they can pay. That's not to say their intentions aren't good, but if they can pay less, then they can make more on the other end," Kruse explained.

Kruse and other real estate experts say one of the critical factors home owners must be aware of before talking to a buyer, is the fair market value of their property. So never agree to sell your home without an independent professional opinion of what it's worth.

"Unless it's family and you're just being generous, you need to find out what the value of your home is before you enter into a contract with somebody," Kruse emphasized.

You should also be aware that many cold call real estate letters target seniors who have great equity in their homes, but low cash flow and limited understanding of what a fair deal should be.

Many cold call letters talk about saving you money because you can avoid commissions and appraisal fees. While that may be true many of the buyers sending the letters know a great deal more about the business than they typical consumer. That puts you at a distinct disadvantage.

So unless you're an expert, it's in your best interest to pay a licensed, knowledgable and reputable real estate pro to be on your side. Or, at the very least, find an experienced real estate attorney.