The internet has given home buyers so many options to find a real estate agent, but without knowing what qualities to look for, it can be difficult to ride the wave of information overload. And if you’ve just received orders and are set to PCS, it’s likely that finding a home is only one of many things on your to-do list.This article highlights 4 qualities to help you quickly identify the right Realtor who stands out from all the rest. Find an agent who represents you, has the heart of a teacher, devises a unique strategy designed to meet your goals, and if possible, is a fellow Coastie.
I wrote this article before social distancing guidelines were put in place, but the tips discussed are still important, now more than ever. It’s especially crucial to find a Realtor who can fulfill the roles laid out below. It will take a creative Realtor to guide you through the challenges we currently face as a nation.
- A Representative
Navigating the ins and outs of a new community is a unique challenge that most Coasties are familiar with. But to be truly successful, especially in a novel housing market, it’s crucial to partner with a Realtor who represents you fully. Choose an agent who is accessible and attentive to answer your questions and address your concerns. An agent can’t truly understand your needs unless they take the time to listen. For many Coasties, purchasing sight-unseen is the only option. A representative Realtor is your eyes and ear who utilizes not just pictures, but virtual walkthroughs to give you a more realistic layout and condition of the home (digital marketing is quickly evolving and differs from city to city, so ask your agent what virtual showing options are available). If you have family and friends in the area, a representative Realtor could encourage them to come along and offer further feedback during video tours. What if you’re moving to a community with no connections? Reach out to your unit’s Housing Office for guidance. In several of my showings, I’ve invited the Local Housing Representative to virtual tours, and buyers were highly satisfied with his input. Once you’ve found the right home, your representative Realtor should attend inspections and re-inspections alongside you or on your behalf if you can’t physically be there. A representative Realtor makes every effort with every resource to give you every bit of confidence, because you need to be assured that you’re making a wise decision.
- A TEACHER
The road to closing takes many twists and turns before getting there, so it’s little wonder why buying a home can be stressful. Find a Realtor with a heart of a teacher who breaks down the process into clear and manageable steps, so you feel confident about your purchase. As excellent problem solvers, teacher-oriented agents help you address military-specific challenges: they keep you informed of VA home loan policy changes, connect you with local VA loan specialists, and team with the Local Housing Representative to help you weigh the pros and cons of buying in that market, just to name a few. The Coast Guard moves us often, so it’s likely you’ll buy several homes while you and/or your spouse is in the military. Therefore, it’s essential to find an agent who ensures you can apply a deep understanding about the home-buying process to future purchases.
Studies have shown that owning a home is a top priority for a majority of military families. It’s necessary to find a Realtor who will help you find the right home that meets your goals. Your home is more than a place to hang your coat – it’s an asset designed to meet long term goals like paying for your child’s college or killing debt. For most of us Coasties, the main goal is to resell our home in 3-4 years time when we PCS to a new station. So find a Realtor who will help you devise a plan that increases your ability to resell at a profit. Although this will be unique to you, a strategic Realtor tries to negotiate up to 10 % off a home’s list price, even during a seller’s market. How that’s accomplished will vary according to the agent, but here are a few things to ask:
- Does their market analysis consider when the home was purchased, and for how much?
- How much were buyers willing to pay for homes that compare to yours in the last 6-8 months?
- What is the home’s assessed value?
A compilation of these data will determine an appropriate starting point for negotiations within 10% of list price. Negotiating the price is key because buying under market value forces equity from day one. Additional appreciation will come from what buyers and sellers are doing in the housing market, both locally and nationwide. Furthermore, you can force appreciation if you make modest upgrades in the right areas of your home. In the end, it literally pays to find a strategic Realtor from the start.
- A FELLOW COASTIE
The right Realtor is the one who faces the same challenges with many of the same frustrations that you do. Like you, Coastie Realtors weather the storms of change and uproot their families to another community. We can channel that empathy to combine our shared experience and expertise to bring you home. When it’s time to PCS, you can connect with other Coast Guard families through local social media groups to find a Coastie Realtor in your new community. They’ll provide the helpful feedback to start your search. To connect with CG families in the Sault, join https://www.facebook.com/groups/143440139048999 .
5. COMMITTED TO FAIR HOUSING
Serving clients in meaningful ways is of utmost importance to the best Realtors. They understand that continued education is central to that service to providing fair and equitable treatment to all clients. Continued education covers a range of topics that affect real estate in light of current events including fair housing laws, internal biases, and diversity. The best Realtors take the time to self-analyze with the intention of rooting out internal biases that can perpetuate systemic descrimination in real estate. In my own experience, I’m committed to ask myself the tough questions that many of us ask ourselves – what can I do to end racial injustice in my community? I have also partnered with fellow agents to carry out best-practices that combat descrimination in the field. So ask your agent how they’re continuing their education? Are they doing the work to provide clients with equitable treatment?