Buying or Selling a Home? Real Estate Tips for Military Families


cape-may-105590_640By Guest Contributor, Mary Choi

Got PCS orders?  Are you deciding whether to buy or sell your home?  Buying and selling a home can be a daunting task for any military family!  Here are a few real estate tips for military families when thinking about buying or selling a house.

What Your Military Family Needs to Know About Selling a Home

You need the right agent!  Ask friends for a referral and interview at least two different realtors before deciding who will list your home.

On average, you will pay a total of 6% commission to be split between the listing and selling agent.  You want to have a good working relationship with the agent who you are hiring, and you should trust them 100%.

Ask lots of questions…how long are homes staying on the market? What is the current saturation and absorption rate (this determines whether you have a Buyer or Seller’s market)? What is the average list to sales price?  These questions will help you understand how long to expect your home to be on the market before you should expect to receive an offer.

When you choose your agent….determine what services he or she will provide…advertising, Open Houses, flyers out front, et cetera.   Listen to their advice and flip the mental switch… are not selling your home…you are selling a house.

Once you put your house on the market, ask your realtor to run some preliminary settlement numbers with you.  There are costs associated with selling your home that need to be considered such as payoff of loan, taxes, HOA fees, closing costs, etc.  These fees affect what you will actually receive at settlement….this ensure you are not surprised at the closing/escrow office.

Flip the mental switch… are not selling YOUR HOME…you are selling A HOUSE.

What Your Military Family Needs to Know About Buying a New Home need the right agent!  If you know an agent in your current area, ask them for a referral for a good agent in the new area.  Your realtor will be happy to help you…referral business is good for both agents.

Understand your VA loan benefit.  All markets are not the same.  The average loan maximum is $417,000 with zero money down.  However, this amount can increase significantly in certain areas like Honolulu, Hawaii where the maximum loan amount can be around $750,000.You can surpass this loan amount with a Jumbo Loan.   These max amounts can change quarterly so make sure you are dealing with a knowledgeable loan officer.

Work with a local lender versus an out-of-state bank.  Things change quickly, and if you need a change in your Loan Approval letter late Sunday night, a local loan officer will be able to handle it right away.  Don’t let time zones or weekday business hours be the reason your offer is not accepted.

Know the market.  Is it a seller’s or buyer’s market? Are homes selling at 90% or 102% of list price and what is the Average Days on the Market?  Don’t miss out on the home of your dreams because your offer is too low and a better offer comes in at the same time.  Trust your realtor!

It’s not too early to find a good realtor to help you.  If you know you are moving in June, contacting that agent as early as December is a good idea.  They can set up an automatic search for you which will e-mail you with new listings, changes in status, etc.  This is a great time to get a grasp of what is happening in this new market.

If you are able to travel to the new area a few months ahead of your PCS date, do it!  Once you are under contract, the process takes on average a full 30-60 days… will need a Home Inspection, time to negotiate repairs, etc.  If you do a house buying trip in April and PCS in June, you have a really good chance that you will be able to do a door-to-door move.  If you arrive at your new duty station in June and begin your home search at that time, you will be waiting in a hotel for 45-60 days.

You don’t want to make a home buying decision based on desperation; however, don’t hesitate to jump on a property that you really love.  Make sure you have all your financial matters clearly under control, and don’t make an offer that is above market value.  This happens more often than one would expect.

If you are using your VA or conventional loan, an appraisal has to be done and if the appraised price doesn’t come back with what you offered, you are back to negotiating with the seller.  You have the upper hand in that most sellers will reduce the price of the home; however, you may still have repairs or other requests and the seller will no longer be motivated to negotiate.  Bottom line, make sure you agent pulls comps of homes currently on the market and recently sold.

Buying or selling a home and moving to a new area can be stressful.  Your next move should be an adventure and the beginning of a new chapter, partnering with the right agent can go a long way in alleviating unnecessary stress.

Mary Bus CardMary Choi began her real estate career in Atlanta, Georgia in 2006 with Keller Williams Realty.  She is married to a career Army Officer, which moved her to the Honolulu area two years ago where she continues her love of helping her clients with all their real estate needs.  She is a 1995 Summa Cum Laude graduate of Methodist University with a BS in Business Administration.


  1. This is like a thinly veiled real estate ad! Buying our first home was THE WORST mistake my husband and I have made throughout our 20 year marriage.

    1. Don’t buy a house if theres a chance you could PCS

    2. Don’t buy a house if you don’t have enough overhead to rent., you must have enough savings to make a few mortgage payments

    3. Purchase less than you can afford… In case you have a setback or need to PCS.

    4. After 20 years of military life, I have seen MANY sad losses due to home ownership.

    We had to PCS out of state (unexpectedly- everyone told us we would be stuck in that location because of his career field, but the Air Force required him to cross train and he was needed to fill a position across the country. I was stuck selling our 3 year old home alone with an 18 month old baby. We couldn’t afford a real estate agent because their fees would have cost $6,000 out of pocket after selling the home. we only had 3 years of equity. After 9 months, we finally decided to move with my husband and leave the home with the agent. The agents trashed the carpets with their clients. People would track everything in and even left trash on the floor. Our BAH had to go to base housing at our new base and so we used all of our savings to pay our mortgage and by trying to avoid a foreclosure, we uses credit cards to pay the mortgage. We finally resorted to a quick sale. The house sold for $10,000 less than we paid.. Our savings was wiped out & we had credit card debt. We were told a quicksale wouldn’t hurt our credit but it did for 7-9 years. We had immaculate credit before the mistake of purchasing a home.

  2. There is a great company that provides real estate services in London. This company has a lot of closed deals and satisfied customers. Whether you want to rent, sell or buy a property, Realestateagentslondon will help.


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