Choose the Right Real Estate Professional for Your Next Military Move

Relocation is a way of life for military personnel and their families. Using the services of a professional, dedicated REALTOR® can help to ease your transition to or from a new neighborhood. EXIT Realty Corp. International turned to Sonya Sanders, a sales representative with EXIT Alliance Realty in Temecula, California, to offer her insight on what you should look for when choosing the right agent. Licensed for more than 16 years, Sanders comes from a military family and has been married to Adrian Sanders, a US Marine for more than 33 years (retired in 2009 after 26 years of active duty). She is a member of the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP).

  1. An agent with experience and knowledge as a veteran or military spouse is often more empathetic and understanding of the unique requirements and stressors you face. “An inexperienced agent sees it from the outside but doesn’t necessarily understand what it’s like on the inside. Moving from town to town, the separation of families, putting oneself in harm’s way – all of that can exact an emotional and physical toll,” says Sanders. Also, an agent who has achieved the Military Relocation Professional (MRP) Certification through the National Association of REALTORS® has additional training in this specialized field.
  2. An agent whose values and work ethic mirror your own. Regardless of the branch of service, military members live the values of honor, courage, commitment, integrity, respect, duty, and service every day. An effective real estate agent will have a proven track record with his or her clients which demonstrates a history of similar behavior.
  3. Patience and willingness to explain the steps in the transaction. Educating clients on the process step-by-step can help alleviate anxiety. Some of those steps in a military-related transaction may differ from a civilian transaction. For example, if the active duty member is unavailable and the spouse is tasked with securing housing, your real estate agent can assist with ensuring the correct Power of Attorney is in place to get the real estate transaction closed.
  4. An effective agent will be sensitive to deadlines and time pressures. “Often military members will have a small window of time to secure their next home,” says Sanders. “Agents must be flexible. We must be willing to show many homes in a short period of time during the time of day convenient to them. A good agent might even have to go the extra mile, coordinating appointments with lenders, appraisers and inspectors, but whatever the case may be, we have to work fast and efficiently.”
  5. Thorough knowledge of the community. Often military members know nothing about their new community. Your REALTOR® can provide information on commute times, schools, HOA fees, amenities, quality of life and more.
  6. Skillful use of technology. “I have personally shown homes over FaceTime because the parties couldn’t attend the showing in person,” says Sanders. An agent is sometimes the military client’s eyes and ears. “Proficiency with electronic signatures is key,” Sanders continues. “We use dotloop at EXIT Realty, but regardless of the electronic signature technology an agent uses, it allows us to complete the transaction with as few steps as possible when the parties are in different locations.”
  7. An understanding of VA loans. * “The VA (Veterans Administration) doesn’t make loans,” says Sanders. “The VA guarantees the home loans that are made by lending companies like banks and mortgage companies. The guarantee assures the lender that losses up to the amount of the guarantee are covered if the borrower can’t make the payment. This is why no down payment is required. Not only that, but the VA benefit can be used multiple times.” An experienced agent will also understand the fees a buyer is not allowed to pay in a transaction where a VA loan is involved and how this doesn’t necessarily translate to a more expensive transaction for the seller. “The lender and the agent are a team, together supporting the military member,” says Sanders.
  8. Experience with the paperwork. An experienced agent will understand the special clauses required in a purchase agreement, such as which fees and expenses each party can and will cover, what to include in a brief letter of introduction, etc.

And finally, choose an agent who has access to an extensive REALTOR® network like EXIT Realty, with hundreds of brokerage locations and thousands of sales representatives across the U.S. and Canada.

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