In this military life, there are very few things that are normal. The average nonmilitary person usually has very little comprehension when it comes to deployments, PCSing and the fact that we move every one to four years. As a real estate professional, one trend that I’ve seen is how increasingly normal it is to buy a home without ever physically stepping inside.
For instance, if you are PCSing from Florida to California, there is a very good chance that you won’t have the time or desire to spend the money to pack your entire family up and fly to the other coast to house hunt. Or even more difficult, if you are heading overseas, plane tickets for your tribe could run upwards of $5,000. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather spend that on new furniture or renovations!
As a realtor, I’ve sold several homes from afar and there is truly nothing better than watching a family step in their home for the first time!
Here are a few tips to help you navigate your real estate transaction from afar:
Hire a REALTOR.
As a buyer, you do not pay any fees for using a realtor. The right realtor can set you up with a portal on the MLS and be your advocate when you cannot be physically present. I also highly recommend a military spouse or military veteran realtor as he or she can truly understand your situation. A great place to find that real estate agent is through MILLIE’s AgentHero program. AgentHero is a network of military spouse and veteran real estate agents who have been vetted for caliber, commitment, and quality. Since these agents all understand the distinct situation you are in, they are way better acquainted with compressed timelines, VA loans, plus they have actually PCSed themselves. They understand what you’re going through!
Enlist a friend or hire a MILLIE Scout.
If you are lucky enough to know someone in your new town, that person would be an awesome resource to give you a third party opinion. If you don’t know someone locally, you can hire a MILLIE Scout. I always encourage my buyers to send friends or family members who live nearby, but as spouses, we all know that isn’t always possible. Scouts are the link between Internet research and actually being there to experience it yourself. They can help by providing decision support when you’re choosing a rental property or managing your own rental property long-distance. Scouts are all military spouses who have many years of experience PCS’ing, buying homes, renting homes, deployments and community involvement. In addition to helping you buy or sell your rental, they can help you with your household goods delivery if it’s arriving at a bad time for you, and they can even help you with base housing wait lists. It’s the milspo bestie you never knew you had! Check out GoMillie.com for more info, including very useful information on over 70 different military installations for each branch of service.
Skype, FaceTime and Facebook Messenger are all amazing and free resources for video chatting. I always like to take videos and lots of photos for my clients so the they are always able to reference photos during their transaction, but with a video call like FaceTime, you really can envision yourself in the home and ask specific questions in real time, like where a door opens to or how deep a closet is.
Have an open mind.
Moving is so stressful. When deciding on where to buy a home, you must also consider schools, your spouse’s commute, safety and crime statistics among a million other things. Also, there is a chance that you may only call this house your home for a couple of years. I’m constantly reminding myself that throughout all these moves, I’m not necessarily living in my forever home, but one that will rent or sell easily in the future. One positive from moving around quite a bit is that I have figured out what works well for our family in terms of layout, multi-level, etc. and that will definitely influence our decisions when we put down permanent roots.
We are currently in the process of buying a home that we have never stepped foot in. Even though this is my job everyday, it is still very nerve-wracking for me, but I am thankful for friends and technology for helping me to envision our future home. If you have any questions about selling or buying a home from afar, feel free to email me at [email protected] I am a licensed real estate agent in both California and Florida.
For more realtor recommendations, check out the MilMB Real Estate Guide for some amazing professionals.
What about you? Have you purchased from afar? Would you do it again?