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How would you like a steady stream of buyers who may need your services every three to five years, can make fast buying decisions, and can refer you to others in
their close-knit, highly mobile community? The military niche could be a way to grow
your real estate business. Military buyers and sellers benefit from having a real estate
professional who understands their distinct needs. In May, the Real Estate Buyer’s
Agent Council, as part of its Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation,
launches a one-day elective course called “Working With Military Buyers,” which will
educate real estate professionals about this robust market.
This niche offers wide opportunities. There are now 1. 2 million active-duty service
members in the United States, in addition to nearly 22 million military veterans. “The
pool of clientele for real estate professionals to reach out to is huge,” says Maura
Neill, ABR®, CRS®, e-PRO®, lead instructor of the “Military Buyers” course and a real
estate professional with RE/MAX Around Atlanta. Do you have what it takes to work
effectively with military buyers? Here are some tips for success.
Be Ready For Tight Deadlines
Active-duty military personnel often have to make homebuying decisions quickly.
When they receive relocation orders, families may have no more than 60 to 90 days
to move. Within that time frame, they may have a week to make an offer on a house,
says Jo Anne Littleton, ABR®, a sales associate with Prudential John M. Brabham
Real Estate in Sumter, S.C., who works with military clients and helped develop the
REBAC course. She says this “power house hunt” requires considerable work with
buyers before they arrive to educate them about the market, provide community
information, and identify home preferences, such as proximity to the base. When
buyers arrive, they typically view 15 to 20 homes in a few days while Littleton helps
them keep their leading choices top of mind.
Bone Up On Financing Options
Special financing is available for active-duty military, veterans, and eligible surviving
spouses from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, including 100 percent financing
options provided by private lenders with no down payment or private mortgage insurance requirement. The pros and cons of these types of loans will be covered in the
REBAC course, Neill says. Also, real estate professionals should consider partnering
with a lender to offer a home-buying seminar for military members.
Tune In To Short-Term Buyers
In a 20-year military career, a typical family will relocate six or seven times—or about
every three years, according to the National Military Family Association. Real estate
professionals should be prepared to address whether potential buyers can build
equity in such a short time frame. Agents may need to discuss the trajectory of home
prices in the local market to help clients make the best decision.
Build Allies For The Long Term
After settlement day is over and the house keys have been exchanged, don’t lose
touch. Military clients likely will need your services again soon. “Stay in touch with
purpose,” Neill says. “Think about what you can you help them with. When they’re
living off base, they can feel isolated.”
Littleton, who moved nine times within 16 years as a military spouse herself,
knows the challenges of getting assimilated after a move. She tries to get her clients
connected to the community and introduces them to contractors, particularly if one
spouse has been deployed and the other may need help with home repairs or yard
maintenance. “The military represents a huge market for real estate professionals who
live nearby,” Littleton says. “The REBAC course can help you better understand their
circumstances and gain knowledge about how you can best serve them.”
—By Melissa Dittmann Tracey
Photo: iStockphoto / Daniel Bendjy ©2013