You think you’ve heard this story before, but you haven’t. That’s because it starts like many others: With a young family desperate to buy their dream home. This young family found a place that checked all their boxes but they were unable to convince its owner to actually, you know, sell the house. His reasoning was simple: his house wasn’t on the market. So, in one last hail mary attempt, the family writes a heartfelt letter explaining all the reasons why they’d like to one day call that property their home.
Now, this tale doesn’t have a happy ending. There was no signed purchase and sale agreement. It did, however, lead to something bigger: a service aimed at helping people write those letters — a small, difficult, intimate thing to do — in an easy, friction-free way. The goal? To let owners know you love their house so that, if a day comes that they do want to sell it, they’ll keep you and your family in mind.
That’s how Pittsburgh-based software engineer and father of a 4-year-old girl, Matthew Pegula, founded The Write Home, a website that — for just $3 a pop — can help you pen a letter to the owners of your dream house, just in case they decide to sell it one day.
“About three weeks ago, I came up with the idea: ‘What if there was a website where I could enter the address of a house I was interested in, customize a letter, click send, and have it automatically delivered,'” says Pegula. And that’s pretty much how The Write Home works.
Built atop another online service called Lob that lets users send snail mail much as they would email, The Write Home took less than a day for Pegula to make. I thought, ‘I’ve got a couple of hours on Saturday, let’s see if we can put something together,'” he says.
And as a father to a young child, Pegula knew that finding the time to dedicate to a passion project like this can be almost as hard as finding a perfect home. A tech tinkerer who spent his baby’s tummy time learning Android app programming, Pegula has previously built a baby selfie app, as well as a pair of hardware projects in his off-time. While none of these side projects have let Pegula quit his day job, they did teach him the value of making good use of the early morning hours before his family woke up, and the time at night after they went to sleep. That’s primarily when he works on The Write Home.
So far a handful of users have used The Write Home. Pegula has helped them craft letters the way one might help someone tweak a resume. But as it’s a sort of set-it-and-forget-it kind of service, that’s fine for now. “We’ve recouped the cost to buy the domain,” says Pegula.
And maybe one day he’ll even use his site to find his own dream house. That’s right — ironically, Pegula didn’t come to the idea for this project because he was lucky enough to pen a note that shook loose that suburban mid-century modern ranch he and his wife want to call home. As the owners of a rare, Steel City Dutch colonial in a big triple lot on a secluded, one-way street, Pegula is the one receiving letters — and he’s got a whole box of them atop the fridge when he’s ready to sell.