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Military Real Estate Tips

May 30, 2017

In this episode of the Center for REALTOR® Development, guests Bryan Bergjans and Juanita Charles join our host Monica to discuss several aspects of serving as a real estate agent for military personnel. This episode will cover VA loans and how they can be used, as well as what you can do as a Realtor® to best serve your military customers. As a real estate agent working with military relocation, you never know what kind of variables you might dealing with, and our guests today talk about how to navigate them. 

VA loans are really just like any other loans, but there is some work that needs to be done beforehand. You have to establish eligibility and entitlement up front; it’s beneficial to have the Certificate of Eligibility (COE) before looking for loan terms and turning in loan applications. A veteran or active duty member is eligible for a VA loan after they have completed a minimum amount of time in service, and must show eligible service and character of service to the VA. Differences in loan between active duty members and veterans is the funding fee. The funding fee can change based on whether the client as used it before, whether they were active duty or a reservist. It can also be affected by a resident’s disability. 

There are some stipulations for what types of properties a VA loan can be used to buy. Active members and veterans are not allowed to use VA loans to buy rental properties, investment properties, or second homes. The loan benefit is used for primary residents only. 

Bryan shares some tips for how agents can know how to better help their military clients. One of the biggest a greatest things you can do is over communicate: keep both spouses involved in the process, and know the situation for the whole family. Be mindful of the properties you are going to show them; they should be safe, secure, and sanitary. You must also consider time frame to find a place, what’s available, and how long they’re going to be there. 

In the second half of the episode, Juanita Charles shares her personal experience with coming back to the States and needing to find some place to live. As someone who has been through the process both as a client and as an agent, her advice to agents is to really get an understanding of your client’s situation, and what they expect. 

Early occupancy allows for the buyers to move in early without actually owning the house yet. While they cannot make changes until the ownership passes, this may allow some members of the family to get settled in before the active military personnel arrives, or vice versa. 

When helping clients get settled, it may be nice to give them a little gift basket with some of their interest in the area, and try to get them integrated into some circles. As a Realtor®, it is important to make sure you’re aware of your client’s time frame, as well as explaining the process and costs to the clients. Talk to them about situations where they may have to leave earlier than anticipated. All of these tips are very important for helping military clients get acclimated, but kindness is one of the greatest things you can give your clients.