By Alan Gionet

DENVER (CBS4) – “It’s like having another job,” said Ryan Nickerson as he and his wife looked at yet another property.

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“There’s like 30 other people in the room looking at it too. It kind of brings your confidence level down that we have a chance,” said his wife Robin Cain.

They’ve scrimped and saved and gotten ready to buy. The problem is, they can’t find a house anyone will sell them in Denver’s cutthroat real estate market.

Homes are commonly selling above the asking price. There are so many offers, real estate agents are glancing only moments at some below the ask, before setting them aside.

Ryan Nickerson and wife Robin Cain (credit: CBS)

Ryan Nickerson and wife Robin Cain (credit: CBS)

Robin Cain and husband Ryan Nickerson (credit: CBS)

Robin Cain and husband Ryan Nickerson (credit: CBS)

In recent weeks one home in Aurora had over 240 showings and 65 offers. Twenty-nine of them were over the asking price of the house at $290,000.

“So now we just have to kind of gear ourselves up for, ‘If we do want to put in an offer, how are we going to make ourselves stand out,’” Cain said.

On the other side are the sellers. People like Jamie Prochno and fiancé Austen Cutrell are selling in a great market. They put their home up for sale last week and the offers poured in.

“You want someone who’s excited and really wants the house and we also really love the house,” said Prochno.

They are moving to Omaha after owning the home they’re selling north of City Park for six years. They have an emotional connection.

“We’re definitely going to be sad to leave this house,” Cutrell said.

Myra Benjamin is also sad about selling her house in Manitou Springs. She grew up in the neighborhood and has owned the home for over 40 years.

“I will be very choosy on who would put an offer on the home,” Benjamin told CBS4. “I would enjoy seeing a family that would take care of the home as much as we did.”

CBS4's Alan Gionet interviews Myra Benjamin (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Alan Gionet interviews Myra Benjamin (credit: CBS)

She’s adamant about it not becoming rental property. She wants to know more about any buyer than what’s contained in a typical offer.

Agent Todd Crosbie has seen offers get bigger and bigger and crazier and crazier. He tells stories of people waiving inspections and offering tens of thousands over the asking price. Not all that’s going on in offers is wise. Letters have been an often positive development. The intent Crosbie said is, “To try to get the emotional aspect so two offers that are similar, they’ll go with the emotional one with the letter over the different one.”

Letters aren’t likely to overwhelm money, but sometimes the letters are so important, they make a critical difference.

“I’ve seen that work effectively where the seller actually took a lower price offer because he felt a connection to the clients,” Crosbie said.

CBS4's Alan Gionet interviews Todd Crosbie (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Alan Gionet interviews Todd Crosbie (credit: CBS)

There are things you shouldn’t include.

“For example,” said Crosbie, “You can’t say, ‘Hey, I can’t wait to buy this house and turn it instantly into a rental.’ Bank may not like that.”

He also told of having a client who got a letter that seems to be critical of what the owners had done to the home.

“We received a bunch of letters and this person said, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to tear this house apart and rebuild it.’ It didn’t go over well.”

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

What does work is trying to establish a connection. It’s important for buyers to learn about the sellers.

“It’s amazing what you can learn walking through somebody’s house,” Crosbie said.

He advises people to keep their eyes open.

“I always think the best letters are the ones that (the seller) or the buyer truly writes. I don’t want to dictate to them and say, ‘Hey, you should really do this.’ I might give them hints. ‘Hey did you notice the dog bowls?’”

The best letters are not long, but are visual.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“Pictures are always great, dogs are always great.”

CBS4 learned of one home sold in Parker by a military veteran who found a connection with a police officer trying to buy. It wasn’t the highest offer.

Crosbie says it’s important for the buyer and agent to be organized with the offer.

“Just finding out the details of the seller. How fast do they want to move? Do they not want to move fast?”

Time after time Ryan and Robin put in offers and letters. They even got creative.

“We’ve done letters, we’ve thought about dropping off wine for them,” said Ryan.

They cropped themselves into a photo in front of one home. The sellers liked it so much they kept them in the running until the end, but ultimately took a higher offer.

Finally, they created a letter on a home that not only included photos of their lifestyle and them in front of the home, but mentioned preserving its history. And even mentioned, they too would like to keep chickens, just like the home sellers.

Jamie Prochno and fiancé Austen Cutrell (credit: CBS)

Jamie Prochno and fiancé Austen Cutrell (credit: CBS)

“It felt like they put a lot of effort into that offer, when you saw that letter and how personalized it was to our house,” said Jamie Prochno as her chickens searched the ground behind her for food.

The offer was higher than others, but even if it had not quite been the top offer, Jamie said they might have taken it. It was just the right letter.

“We’re definitely going to be sad to leave this house, feel good about selling to someone who loves it,” said Jamie.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Ryan and Robin will be calling it home.

Additional Resources

Trying to buy in an intense market? Here’s practical information from Alan Gionet’s interview with real estate veteran Todd Crosbie:

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Alan Gionet is anchor of the CBS4 Morning News and reports on a wide variety of issues and “Good Question” stories. He started at CBS4 in 1994. Follow Alan on Twitter @AlanGTV.