Bridging the military and civilian divide is always a popular topic. While there are some things about the military lifestyle that those not involved will never truly understand, communication and understanding can go a long way.
What military families want their real estate agent to know
When it comes to moving and hiring areal estate agent, there are so many differences between a military family and a civilian family. Military families are more likely to buy a home online, from a distance, and possibly from distant time zones. They are more likely to move after only a few years, forcing the decision to sell or rent out their property. And of course, some of the paperwork and VA Loan information is unique to military home-buyers. We polled military spouses who have bought a house with their service member while on active duty and asked them several questions regarding their experiences.
Where did you find your real estate agent?
• Word of mouth/referral
• Other home buying program
So, the bottom line is that military spouses have a vast network of friends and acquaintances and when they really like something, they share it. So by serving one military family well, real estate agents can pretty much seal the deal on receiving additional inquiries from military families moving to that area.
How much did your agent understand about a military PCS?
Whoa, these responses were all over the place. The common thread, however, is that those real estate agent who had a military background were preferred to those who didn’t.
Not having a military background doesn’t mean military families aren’t going to choose you as their real estate agent, but the more you can understand about what they are going through and what they are looking for, the better chance you have. There are similarities between military and civilian life, but there are also huge differences. Military families look for an agent that understands those differences.
That being said, if a real estate agent is a military spouse, veteran, or prior service, they should share that with potential military clients! Just as military spouses tend to look within their own community for their needs, they are going to do the same when looking for an agent.
What do you wish your agent knew before you purchased your home?
Hands down, the number one thing military spouses want their agent to understand is: We have no control over anything with a military PCS. No control over dates, or the timeline, or how long we’re going to be there. None whatsoever. And we’re not always ok with it, so we need our agent to be.
Here are some other things we want real estate agents to know:
- Resale value is important, and we mean reselling in 2-3 years, not 10+ years.
- We rely on our agent to be our eyes and ears. We can’t be there for everything, we need to trust our agent.
- This isn’t a forever home: Location, schools, and commute times are really important. “Extras” are not as important.
- We don’t have a lot of time to find a home with a military PCS. Or to close on it. Or to do the walk-through. We need our agent to do this for us.
- This may become a rental property for us, so we need to know how the market trends, what hidden costs there may be, etc.
- If an agent is helping us sell our house, we can’t leave it staged forever. The packing process is crazy and we have to go when we have to go.
- Communication is key throughout the whole process. Military families have a lot going on when they move; they need to be able to communicate despite time zone differences and work schedules.
- We may buy sight unseen. We need the truth, up front, all of it.
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Author: Rebecca Alwine is an Army spouse, freelance writer and mother of three. She’s a regular contributor to ARMY Magazine, Homefront United Network, PCSgrades, ESME, and has also been published in Ms. Magazine and The Atlantic.