No two military moves are alike. PCS orders may arrive late and may interrupt the school year. The move may be from one end of the globe to the other, crossing numerous time zones. The packers may be late -- you know the drill! What else could go wrong? The military member may be deployed, leaving the spouse to deal with a myriad of complicated issues, including the sale of your present home.
Since your home is your biggest investment, in addition to being the "roof over your head," the selling process deserves careful thought and consideration. There are some variables in home selling that cannot be controlled such as overall and seasonal market conditions, interest rates, and economic and political factors. However, there are even more variables that you can control and with proper advanced planning, the military family can maximize their cash out and minimize their stress.
The first and perhaps most critical step is choosing the right realtor. We recommend you begin this process at least 90 days before your anticipated move and consider the following:
- Reputation: Look for referrals from friends / associates who have had a good experience with a realtor.
- Interview several realtors before you choose one.
- Don't make your decision solely on the commission structure, advertisements, promises of a high sales price, or claims of "high volume sales." Carefully consider the following: * Does the realtor listen to your concerns? * Will this person communicate in a timely / effective manner? * Does the realtor substantiate their opinion of your home value with a well prepared "comparative market analysis"? * Do you connect with this person? Is this someone you want on your "team"?
Finally, when you select your realtor, stay engaged through every step of the process. Use the following checklist to empower yourself to control those factors that can be controlled. By staying out in front of this very challenging process, you CAN have a very successful move, maximize your return on investment, and minimize your stress!
Since no two military moves are exactly alike, this is a "recommended/ideal" sequence. You cannot start your planning too early -- you should begin the process no later than 90 days prior to your anticipated move date when feasible.
1. Verbal or written orders:
No earlier than______________ No later than ____________
2. Determine your ideal "Move Out" date:
Required check-in date at new duty station ____________
School considerations (leaving present duty station) ____________
School considerations (arriving new duty station) ____________
PCS shipment considerations ____________
Spouse Employment considerations ____________
Other considerations ____________
Market considerations (contact your realtor) _____________
Ideal Move-Out Date ____________
3. Contact your realtor to begin the following processes:
90 Days from Ideal Move Date:
- Conduct an initial meeting and home tour with your realtor.
- Determine your home's market value with a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). Rough CMAs can be done online but are generally not a substitute for professional detailed analysis of your following an on site tour. Define a price range, as opposed to a specific price.
- Review your realtor's marketing plan.
- Review your realtor's recommendations for preparing you home for sale to maximize home sale price.
- Your realtor will make recommendations about the proper timing for placing your home on the market and in the Multiple Listing Service.
- Based on your ideal move date and personal circumstances, consider options such as post-settlement lease back.
60 Days from Ideal Move Date:
- Your realtor should update your CMA, market conditions and marketing plan.
- Complete preparations for marketing your home and discuss home staging techniques with your realtor.
- Determine best weekend dates for open house.
- Ask your realtor to coordinate your requirements for a high quality, carefully screened realtor at your new duty station.
- If necessary (i.e. in the case of a deployed, or otherwise absent spouse) make preparations for obtaining a "specific power of attorney" for the sale of your home. This may vary by state and you should consult your realtor. You may also obtain advice from your base legal service as well.
- Note: The "general power of attorney" may not suffice for the sale of your home!
30 to 50 days from Ideal Move date (varies with your circumstances, market conditions, and time of year):
- In conjunction with your realtor you should: Order your Home Owners Association and / or condo documents if applicable (extremely important!)
- Contact your mortgage company to obtain your loan payoff amount.
- Consider whether offering a Home Owners Warranty policy to your buyer makes your home a more attractive offering.
Locate and make available to your Realtor a copy of the following:
- Property Plat or Survey
- Any general home warranties or warranties that apply to appliances / heating / cooling systems, etc.
- Locate your title insurance policy. (This may result in a reduced rate for the buyer, thus adding one more selling point to your advantage.)
- Assist in final home staging.
- Place your home in the local Multiple Listing Service.
- Place appropriate yard signs/directional signs.
- Market you home according to the marketing plan.
- Conduct well-advertised, high-quality open houses as scheduled.
Contract Negotiations and Ratification
Once a contract offer is received and negotiations begin, your Realtor should use an extensive checklist and oversight to ensure all contractual contingencies and obligations are tracked and met ON TIME! Stay very engaged at this point as each contingency represents an opportunity for the contract to be voided, and the buyer to exit the obligation with the earnest money. With apologies to Yogi Berra, "it ain't over until it's over" and the money is in the bank.
We wish you success in the sale of your home!