If your office is close to a military base, there’s a good chance you’ll be contacted by buyers and sellers who are active duty military or Veterans.
These customers will have unique needs, and you’ll want to understand their lingo and lifestyle, especially the unpredictable nature of the Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move.
Susanna Haynie, Broker/Owner of Co-Re Group, LLC in Colorado Springs, CO, recently had a former client and squadron leader call her because one of his soldiers had closed on a home a day or so before receiving PCS orders for a different location. “Unfortunately, all I could do was recommend he sell the house,” she says.
As a military spouse for more than 20 years and a real estate agent for 12, Haynie understands a PCS, and moving quickly after receiving new orders. It’s something she educates her military clients about so they understand the risks involved.
Her preference is to find a home they want to purchase, line up the paperwork, then wait for final orders before moving forward. “That way, if their final orders say Kansas and not Colorado, we can get their earnest money back,” she says.
Accommodating Military Timelines
Because military clients can be moving from across the country or around the world, Haynie streamlines the home-buying process, frequently performing a walk-through of homes as they come on the market to send to clients who may end up purchasing a home sight unseen.
“Depending on their move timeline, they may have to make an immediate decision so I can submit the offer,” she says.
And it's not just about buying—if you have to sell your home quickly, a military-friendly agent will know how to work within your timeline in helping you to expedite your move. Rob de la Grange, Broker/Owner of Caravan Properties in San Diego, located about four miles from the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, writes a “military clause” into leases he negotiates on their behalf so they can cancel if they’re unexpectedly deployed.
VA Home Loans
In addition to understanding the timing and uncertainty of military moves, agents should be well-versed in VA Home Loans.
VA Home Loans are available with “zero money down” for qualified and eligible Veterans, servicemembers and surviving spouses of servicemembers. The VA will issue a certificate of eligibility, or COE, to those who qualify.
These mortgages are a popular choice with military homebuyers because they offer low interest rates and most closing costs (including appraisal, credit report, title insurance, lender origination fee, recording fees, and survey fees) can be rolled into the financing.
In addition to letting buyers put no money down, VA Home Loans will require a VA appraisal ensuring that the house meets the VA’s Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs). These include that the home has working electric, heating and cooling systems; adequate roofing that will last the foreseeable future; has sufficient size for basic living necessities; has a clean, continuous water supply with sanitary facilities; and is free of lead-based paint, wood destroying insects, fungus and dry rot.
“A real estate agent experienced with VA Home Loans can help you determine what’s worth asking a seller to fix and when you need to walk away,” says de la Grange.
Working with military buyers is specialized and real estate agents can get unique training in this area. More than 20,000 agents nationwide have earned the Military Relocation Professional (MRP) certification from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). The MRP certification is an approved elective for NAR’s Accredited Buyer's Representative (ABR) designation.
The program educates real estate agents about working with U.S. servicemembers and their families and Veterans to find the housing solutions that best suit their needs and to take full advantage of available benefits and support. Agents completing the program can list “MRP” after their names.
“It’s important that agents understand the processes and procedures involved in a military relocation and how these impact service members’ relocation and housing choices,” says Wes Shaw, a NAR spokesman.
Members who complete the MRP course say the knowledge helps them work with current and former military members and grow that side of their business, he adds.
For more information on NAR’s MRP certification program, visit the association’s website.
Looking for a Military-friendly lender?
AAFMAA Mortgage Services LLC is a not-for-profit, member-owned association which exclusively serves servicemembers and Veterans. Give us a call at 844-218-6926 to speak with one our Military Mortgage Advisors today or visit us at www.aafmaa.com/mortgage.