Before COVID-19, most homebuyers wouldn’t consider purchasing a home without being able to see it in person first. The global pandemic is changing the way homebuyers are finding the perfect home, leaving them to face this new and uncertain reality.

As we enter uncharted territory for thousands of homebuyers, one group is all too familiar with purchasing sight unseen. American veteran and active military families have dealt with challenging moves, virtual tours, and making offers from halfway across the globe for decades.

On average, military families are required to move every 2-3 years, which can be an overwhelming experience. When military personnel receive their Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders, their families are required to find a home, purchase it, and sometimes move across the country (or the world) within a few months.

To understand the process, we interviewed four military members on their experiences with homebuying in a virtual environment and the challenges they face.

Working with an agent who can deliver the extraordinary

Many of the experienced veterans we spoke with stressed the value in working with an agent who’s willing to go above and beyond during this process.

“I think you have to trust your real estate agent, and in this situation, where you’re going to have to do so many things remotely, I think the most important piece is having a good agent.” Dayna, a military spouse, said.

Dayna emphasized why having a transparent agent was key throughout her homebuying journey, “He’s pretty honest. We’d go into a house, and he’d be like, no, this is not okay, you can’t live here. Or he’ll tell us, you know, that may cost you a couple thousand, or this is really good, or you don’t want that elevation back there.”

Choosing an agent who understands the VA loan program, especially its benefits for military families, is essential. An agent that can deliver extraordinary results will go above and beyond to keep buyers informed of issues that may not seem pressing but could prevent spending thousands of dollars down the road.

When virtual tours don’t cut it, rely on your agent to #AlwaysElevate

Without being able to view a home in person due to social distancing orders, homebuyers are turning to virtual home tours. While this is a great solution given the times, it can come with its own set of challenges. Military families are all too familiar with virtual tours concealing otherwise apparent issues and not always providing an adequate layout concept.

“Here’s the thing: you can’t smell mold virtually,” Anthony, a military spouse, says, “You have to go take a look. You can’t tell if the floor creaks. There’s a lot of things that can’t be seen virtually.”

Additionally, homes are often shown in the best light possible. Many military families say they can find some of the descriptions of properties to be misleading. Dayna says, “People always write these descriptions that are so flowery and stuff. I think honesty is better because sometimes you go when you look at these houses, and the pictures aren’t honest.”

However, with a little bit of patience and persistence, you and your real estate agent can resolve these concerns. Communicating your needs, wants, and establishing your preferences can help your agent become your eyes, ears, and nose throughout this process.

#WhatIf you get creative with questions for your agent?

When military members are left with no choice, getting creative and specific with questions can help fill in the gaps.

Jessica, a military spouse who has PCS’d nine times in five years, said, “I would ask my real estate agent specific questions like, it looks like this property is close to the highway. Can you go into the backyard and make a recording of the noise with a decibel meter so I can see how loud the road noise is at that property?”

Some other questions to ask your real estate agent could be:

  • How does the neighbor’s yard look? Would you take a photo?
  • Can you verify any off-putting smells?
  • Would you walk through the property and videotape it with the sound?
  • Is there a blueprint of the house I could see?

Purchasing a home during a global pandemic may not seem ideal, but your CENTURY 21® agent is there to go above and beyond in delivering an extraordinary experience, despite these challenging times.

Content proudly provided in partnership with Veterans United Home Loans. NMLS 1907