Picking the Best Real Estate Agent for Your Next Move

Brown brick house. Photo via Pixabay

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Raymond Brown had just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq when he first noticed the message: he had been issued a coast-to-coast PCS and the clock was ticking…fast. That’s when he reached out to Sharon Baker, a REALTOR® with her Military Relocation Professional (MRP) certification and retired military officer, to help him purchase a home near his new base.

“My new assignment will keep me in Virginia for at least four years, so I knew I wanted to buy instead of rent. But I also knew it was going to be incredibly difficult and expensive to add a cross-country home shopping trip to my schedule,” explains Ray.

“Instead, with Sharon’s help, I’m buying a home I’ve never set foot in.”

Ray admits it feels like the craziest thing he’s ever done, but he’s also confident about his decision. “Sharon has been incredibly attentive to every detail, in terms of helping me select the right property and representing my interests every step of the way, including negotiating a better price, and handling the inspections and related repairs,” says Ray. “I’m even closing remotely!”

One reason Ray lucked out is that he started his search by selecting an agent who was uniquely qualified to provide the type of real estate services he needed most—someone who understands the ins and outs of military moves.

What’s an MRP?

MRP stands for Military Relocation Professional. It’s a certification awarded to real estate agents (by the National Association of REALTORS®) who have successfully completed special training to work with current and former military service members.

Jim Lawrence, a REALTOR® and former Army officer, also teaches real estate classes, including the MRP certification course.

“MRPs understand that military buyers are looking for many of the same things that non-military buyers want, but MRPs also understand the unique challenges military buyers and sellers face when their housing needs change,” says Jim.

If you reach out to an MRP, you can expect someone who:

Talks your language - From PCS to RAP to BAH and more, active duty service members speak in military acronyms and follow a unique set of moving protocols. An MRP understands these terms and, more importantly, how they can affect your relocation decisions.

Supports tight decisions and deadlines - An MRP knows that a PCSing active duty shopper is a power shopper who might look for a house, write a sales contract, and have it negotiated all in a long weekend. Time is of the essence, and an MRP does the legwork that helps everything fall into place.

Assists with VA financing - A mortgage backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can be an important way to improve your purchasing power and achieve the best financing rates. An MRP can help you evaluate these benefits and put you in touch with knowledgeable VA lenders.

Plans ahead - You may be focused on your latest move, but an MRP is also thinking about your next transfer. How easy will it be to sell your home? Does it make sense to convert it into a rental property at the end of your current assignment? These are questions an MRP can help you answer.

May recommend renting instead of buying - Depending on current local market dynamics and the particulars of your situation, renting may be your best choice. An MRP will help you crunch the numbers and support your decision.

Bottom line: an MRP is trained to protect your interests first. They understand the importance of taking a long-term perspective and preserving trust, which ultimately helps them earn more referral business down the road, both within and beyond the military community.

Not Just Active Duty

MRPs are trained to understand and serve all aspects of the military market, including the Reserves, National Guard, and veterans. As a result, you’ll find them located across the U.S., not exclusively near major bases.

On the Same Page

“In my experience, a REALTOR® who has gone out of their way to receive the MRP training tends to exhibit patriotic qualities that are closely aligned with military values,” says Jim Lawrence. “He or she usually has strong national pride, which translates into a positive experience for current and former military members who seek to purchase and enjoy ‘the American Dream.’”

Ready to Get Started?

If you're ready to get started, or just want to get more information on the process, the first step is to get multiple rate quotes with no obligation. You can then discuss qualifications, debt to income ratios, and any other concerns you have about the process with the lenders.

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