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What do you want? A simple but loaded question when asked. But if you ask this to a military family, they can most likely rattle off a list of wants and criteria because we’ve “been there, done that,” and our hard lessons have been learned. And when it comes to buying and selling a home, there are some very specific needs that we have due to our nomadic lifestyle.

Virtual Services
We want an agent that will offer us virtual services. Most military families will not have the opportunity nor the ability to travel and visit their new area prior to moving there. We need to be able to tour the home with a video, facetime meetings, and sign documents electronically. Understanding this need and providing these services upfront can go a long way to help streamline the process for us as well as set realistic expectations on timing for steps in the journey.

A Budget is a Budget
While in the military we will receive a stipend called Basic Housing Allowance (BAH). This is designed to cover up to 95% of our housing costs. Many families will try to stay at or under their BAH entitlement and some will be willing to go over. In determining if we want to rent or buy at the next home, we factor in what our BAH will be at that location, first. Then we take in the housing market and what we are willing to spend. Because our service members’ income is fixed, staying on budget is vitally important. When we say what our budget range is, it’s something we can’t budge on. Showing us houses that are over budget without discussing them with us first will show that you do not understand our needs. If for some reason our budget is unrealistic for the area — we’ll need our agent to be able to explain in detail, why.

The military lifestyle is not easy. We live a very nomadic life where we pack up and move every few years. Sometimes it’s to a location that we are not excited about. In this case, trying to find a home can be a difficult and painful process for us. Understanding that we may not be happy about where we are being sent to and helping us see the beauty can help make this process smoother.

Knowing the Process
One of the most important items on our list is having an agent and lender who can help us walk through the process with realistic expectations and know everything that needs to be done. For example, some first-time homebuyers may not know that they need their VA Certificate of Eligibility when using a VA Home Loan, the expense reports needed, appraisals and inspections, and any other documentation that may come into play. Having someone who can clearly lay out the process, provide us with a checklist of what we need, set our expectations, and be proactive in our journey can result in future referrals.

A Team
We need all the above rolled into one with our agent and lender acting as a team. We need someone who will fight to get us into our desired neighborhood and someone who can work to make closing happen on time. At the end of the day, we do not want to be constantly calling for updates on inspections and offers but rather have someone who keeps us informed every step of the way. Finally, we need a team that we can brag about to other military families.

Megan Harless
Military Spouse & Blogger