First time home buying is a tough business right now. I just pulled the data for different areas in Denver and found that if no new listings came on the market, the current homes for sale would be gone in UNDER A MONTH! That's a crazy statistic. That same data just a few years ago would tell you that there was anywhere from 4-8 months of listings that are ready to be sold. What that tells me is that it's tough to be a buyer, prices are still going up in Denver, and there aren't really any signs of stopping.
So in order to be the best buyer that you can be, you need to be in the mindset of a seller. Think about everything they're going through; how many offers they are getting, where they are going next, how they feel about their home, and more.
If you are looking at a home that is getting multiple offers, think about all the options that someone can do with a contract. What would you want to see if you were selling your place? Would you just take the offer with the most money? Would an offer that says they won't do an inspection objection make you excited? What if they were to waive the appraisal and agree to pay the contract price even if the bank doesn't agree with that number? These are some of the big things that sellers are looking for. All of those mean less fuss and stress for the seller. Granted it does not protect the buyer very much, it does get the seller interested in you and thus you have an opportunity to win the house. Competition is key here, and you have to shine above all the others, so you want to make your offer as strong as you are comfortable with.
Personal letters aren't doing much for sellers these days, the sheer volume of offers on some places make it impossible to look beyond the data of the contracts. So focus on the data, ask your Realtor what would be the strongest position to take with the resources that you have. Ask for a couple of options that you can weigh on. Which one is stronger to you (in the mindset of a seller), and which seems feasible for you to pull off?
Forget the photos of you or your kids, because when it's all said and done this is pretty much a business transaction. You probably aren't going to be best friends with the sellers, or really ever see them again after the closing table. It may not sound as fun this way, but on the bright side you'll have a new home!