Military life has a way of shifting people from place to place, and not always on your preferred timeline. More than 400,000 service members receive Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders annually, meaning that they’re about to move to another city, state, or possibly country for two years or longer.
If you’re a service member who owns a home, a PCS might mean you need to sell — fast. Fortunately, you’re not alone. 70% of active duty personnel choose to live in private sector homes, so thousands of military families need to sell their homes every year.
Thankfully, there are real estate agents who are specially trained to help service members move. These agents have what’s called a Military Relocation Professional (MRP) certification. They help service members successfully sell their homes on time while dealing with the challenges (and leveraging the benefits) of military life.
To give you an overview of MRPs’ specialties, HomeLight compiled years of research and spoke with a leading MRP-certified agent about how she helps homeowners facing PCS orders.
Military Relocation Professionals are trained to help service members
The Military Relocation Professional certification is a program available to real estate agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). NAR is an organization that holds its members to particular standards through a code of ethics and aims to connect sellers and buyers with excellent, qualified real estate agents. About 75% of all licensed U.S. real estate agents are NAR members, but only those who complete a specific training program have MRP status.
Per NAR, the Military Relocation Professional certification “focuses on preparing real estate professionals to work with current and former military service members to find the right housing solutions for them and take full advantage of military benefits and support.” The program trains real estate agents on the following topics:
- Understanding the procedures and processes involved in military relocation
- Providing information to help service members make educated decisions when buying, selling, or renting a home
- Identifying and providing services that help service members sell or purchase homes
- Explaining the details of VA financing
- Guiding military members through a successful transaction
In addition to this training, MRP members are also granted access to members-only tools and resources for marketing military-owned properties.
Sandee Payne, a leading real estate agent in Fort Hood, Texas, and service member for 23 years, stressed that MRP-certified agents are more knowledgeable about the particular issues military members with a PCS face. She shares that “having that certification means you, as an agent, have taken steps to make sure you understand and know how to serve military members in the best way possible.”
A Military Relocation Professional knows the challenges service members face when selling a home
Payne shares that MRPs are trained to assist with the two greatest challenges that military members with PCS orders face: Dealing with a short sale timeline and maintaining healthy finances.
Short sale timelines
When it comes to timeline, MRPs are experienced and know the right questions to ask to ensure you don’t spend months in limbo between homes or need to pay the mortgage on a home you aren’t occupying. Additionally, MRPs typically have an extensive network of other agents across the country who can refer military members looking to buy in your area because of their own PCS orders. Additionally, MRPs know other professionals who can help your home sale and relocation go smoothly, including military-specialized tax experts and cross-country moving companies.
As far as finances go, an MRP can help you to leverage your VA loan to your advantage. For example, if you purchased your home with a VA loan, it’s possible to transfer the loan terms to a new homeowner. This transfer sweetens the deal for buyers by negating the need to apply for a new loan and could secure them a lower interest rate. Payne also shares that an MRP can advise you on whether or not it’s a good decision to buy a new home or rent based on the terms of your PCS order.
Find an MRP with HomeLight’s Agent Finder
The agent you choose is important, and even if they have an MRP certification, there are other factors to consider. HomeLight’s research shows that top-performing agents sell homes faster than their peers and for 10% higher prices on average.
A great way to get in touch with top agents in your area is to use HomeLight’s Agent Finder. To ensure your agent has an MRP certification, let one of our concierges know and they’ll match you with the best MRPs in your area so you don’t have to spend hours digging through the internet. We evaluate agents based on statistics like how fast they sell homes, their average list to price ratio, and client reviews.
Interview three agents with these questions
Once you receive your matches, we recommend interviewing your candidates to feel out the best match. Payne tells us that these are some of the most important questions to ask when you are interviewing potential agents:
- How many transactions have you completed for military members? “It’s not necessarily how many years the agent has been in business that’s important. That’s a misconception,” shares Payne. “I’ve been in the business for only six years, but I sell close to 50 or 60 houses annually for military members. So, a year in business doesn’t necessarily translate into the amount of work they’ve done. A good question to ask is, ‘how much business do you do?’”
- What’s your marketing strategy?As discussed above, one of the key ways that MRPs help their clients is by utilizing a network of military real estate professionals around the country. You should know that your agent is connected with a strong network of buyer’s agents to market your property to.
- What is your availability?Selling a home takes time, something you don’t have much of if you’ve got a PCS. You’ll want to know your agent can give your home sale their full attention. Payne advises that it’s best to hire an agent who works full-time and is available to you when you need them.
These questions are some of the most important, but there are many other questions you should ask. Additionally, during your interview, think about whether or not you’re comfortable communicating with the agent. You’ll work closely with them throughout your home sale, so you want to hire somebody you get along with.
Relax — your MRP-certified agent knows what to do
Even if selling your home seems like a puzzle, a top agent with an MRP certification can guide you through the process with confidence. From selling your home quickly to fetching you the highest possible price, your agent is your partner through the military relocation process.
As Payne says, “MRP agents can get you through your home sale with fewer obstacles that may come up due to the differences of a military location. They will understand those challenges and be prepared to work through them in a way that is understandable and cohesive with a military relocation.”
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