As a military relocation professional, I’ve worked with hundreds of military buyers and sellers over my 15 years in real estate. During that time, I’ve found that helping service members find new homes is a challenging, lucrative, and personally rewarding niche to work as a Realtor. Why? Simple. This is a niche with recession-proof buyers, zero percent financing, and hot leads that need to close quickly.

But is it the right niche for you? In this article, I will help you decide just that. First, I’ll go over why I think working with service members is an ideal niche for Realtors in 2023. Next I’ll cover the basic skills and requirements you’ll need to become a military relocation professional. Finally, I’ll walk you through the exact steps I use to market to and close transactions with military buyers and sellers here in Hawaii.

3 Reasons Becoming a Military Relocation Professional Is an Ideal Niche

Here’s why I think this can be a smart career move for Realtors in 2023:

1. They are not moving by choice!

The main reason working military relocations is such a great niche for Realtors is pretty simple: Military personnel are not just considering a move. With permanent change of station, or PCS, orders in hand, they are required to move. This often involves a new location that they have never been to before. Here’s where your local market expertise comes into play. 

While some military personnel and their families will choose to live on base, there are many more who prefer to live in nearby communities. Sometimes base housing isn’t even an option. That means Realtors play a vital role in military relocation. We are their trusted advisers, and are often their first point of contact in a new city.

2. Easy financing through VA loans

Easy financing through Department of Veterans Affairs loans is another reason. Zero interest loans are an even bigger deal in our current lending environment! 

3. Military personnel have recession-proof jobs

Regardless of what the big economic picture looks like, the military won’t be laying anyone off. Those who are actively serving the U.S. military have guaranteed roles, many of which require them to travel and relocate regularly. These are people with regular, dependable housing needs—perfect clients for real estate professionals.

5 Steps to Building a Lucrative & Rewarding Career as a Military Relocation Professional

A Army visiting his child and giving a hat

Now that you’ve learned the basics, let’s go over how to get started working with service members to see if it’s right for you. Here is a quick overview of the process: 

Step 1: Learn the Skills & Requirements to Work With Service Members

Before you get too excited and start packing your bags, you should know the three basics you’ll need to start working as a military relocation professional: 

You Need to Live Near or Relocate Close to a Military Base

Military professionals generally relocate to cities where their bases are, for obvious reasons. So if you’re not currently near a military base or not willing to relocate, then you won’t be able to work military relocations. It’s as simple as that. 

Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas, and Fort Campbell in Kentucky are currently the three largest bases, but there are dozens of smaller bases scattered across the country. 

If you’re not sure if there’s a base near you, or want to scout places to relocate to, this map of military base locations from Military.com will show you all the active bases in the country.

You Need a Strong Online Presence 

Military buyers and sellers are very tech-savvy, and they do their research online. Having an online presence is a MUST to work military relocations. If you don’t have a website and strong social media skills, you will have a hard time generating military leads. 

You Need to Be Highly Organized & Able to Work Under Pressure

Service members generally have very tight deadlines to close and, as you can imagine, are very organized and detail-oriented. This means you need to understand their timelines in order to succeed as a military relocation professional.

Step 2: Learn the Typical Timeline of a Military Home Purchase

It’s important to realize that most military personnel are in a time crunch to find a home. The U.S. military usually pays for a few weeks at a hotel for active-duty service members who are PCSing to a new location. But that’s not really very long, considering that the escrow process can take up to 45 days in some areas. This means you need to be able to work FAST if you want to work with service members. 

Step 3: Learn Lead Generation & Marketing Strategies to Attract Military Buyers & Sellers

Marketing to service members is very similar to marketing to any buyer or seller. However, there are a few marketing strategies that I’ve found are perfect for generating military leads. Here are my six favorite ways to market to military personnel: 

Get NAR’s MRP Designation

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) offers specialized military education to Realtors interested in earning their Military Relocation Professional (MRP) certification. Real estate agents with the MRP designation are then listed in NAR’s MRP search. This gives you an instant place to be found by military buyers and sellers looking for a Realtor who understands their needs. 

The MRP Certification is a good starting point in working with military clients, but it’s not required. Like most buyers, service members begin their search online, so having good branding and online visibility are important and will go a long way toward attracting military leads.

Make Sure You Have an Effective Online Presence

While it’s not 100% necessary to have military pictures and pages on a website, having military-specific information will definitely help you gain trust and be more relatable. When military buyers and sellers search for help finding a home, they look for agents who will understand them and their specific needs.

If you need some help with your website, check out Chris’ guide to lead generation websites here:

Related Article
The 5 Best Real Estate Lead Generation Websites in 2022

Use Targeted Keywords on Your Website

Nearly all buyers and sellers begin their search online. The majority will search for general terms like “homes for sale in Austin,” but many service members search more specific keywords like “PCS to Oahu” or “homes near Joint Base Lewis McChord.” When writing blogs or web pages designed to attract military buyers and sellers, it is good practice to use targeted keywords to have a better chance at attracting the right audience.

Here’s Debbie Drummond, Realtor at SIMPLY VEGAS, on how she uses advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) to attract military clients:

“I use pay-per-click ads and search engine optimization to target my neighborhood and some of the master-planned communities convenient to the air force bases and the VA hospital.”

Debbie Drummond headshot

Debbie Drummond, Realtor at SIMPLY VEGAS

If you’re new to using keywords on your website, check out Emile’s guide to real estate keywords here:

Related Article
The 77 Best Real Estate Keywords of 2022 (+ How to Use Them & Find More)

Share Relevant Info on Social Media

Social media is always evolving; the tricks that worked a year ago may no longer apply today. But good information will always be relevant. You don’t need a huge following. A loyal following is more important. Treat your profile like a mini website and aim at adding value.

If you are in an area with military clients, this could mean information about traffic, home prices, or the pros and cons of buying new construction. Use relevant keywords to increase the chance of being found. Even simple drive-by videos made into an Instagram Reel could be helpful to someone considering a specific area or community. 

If you need to brush up on your social media skills, check out Emile’s guide here:

Related Article
21 Real Estate Social Media Marketing Tips From Top Agents & Coaches

Host Local Events

Some agents absolutely love hosting events. These could be a thank you for past clients, a community event, or a house-warming party. Such events allow for casual conversations in typically fun settings. 

The military community is fairly tight-knit. There is a very good chance that friends will be in attendance, and they too could be looking for a home. These events are often heavily photographed and shared online. Even if there are no visible logos around, it’s very likely that the person posting will tag you in their pictures with a “thank you to ____.” This simple note will alert others that you are in real estate. If you use props at the events, then your logo, Instagram handle, or name will be in the photos too. The marketing opportunities are endless.

Share Client Testimonials & Reviews

Testimonials are a great way to generate new military business. While we may not think that anyone really reads them, buyers and sellers definitely do. They are our stamp of approval as agents. Once you close transactions with military clients, ask for testimonials. This will help to build trust and credibility, which will lead to your next deal.

Not sure how to ask for reviews or testimonials? Check out real estate coach Beth Incorvati’s guide here:

Related Article
9 Tips to Earn More Reviews & Help Build Referrals & Repeat Clients

Step 4: Start Working With Military Buyers

As with any real estate niche, chances are you will have to start working with buyers until you build up enough experience to become a listing agent. The process of working with military buyers is a little bit different from working with normal buyers. Here is a quick rundown of how the process works after you have a military buyer lead:

Contact a Lender Who Has Experience With VA Loans

Even if the client’s PCS move isn’t happening for a few more weeks or even months, it’s always good to begin the process by reaching out to a lender. The loan officer will provide preliminary information or will begin the preapproval process to determine which loan product will be the best for your clients and what purchase price to stay at or below.

The loan officer should be well-versed in VA financing. While not all military buyers take out VA loans, it is one of the most common mortgage loans used by buyers in the military. It’s also a 0% interest loan. How amazing is that?

Educate Them on the Pros & Cons of Buying vs. Renting

Since many service members are first-time buyers and others might want to rent, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for this. Every situation is different. Home costs are different in different areas. Rent rates are different as well. Long-term plans vary, as do personal preferences. When consulting with new military clients who may be on the fence about whether to buy or rent, all of the above factors have to be considered. 

Since many military buyers use their 0% down VA loan benefit to purchase homes, it will generally take a little longer for them to build enough equity to cover selling costs (in order to at least break even). Going over the pros and cons of buying and understanding their motivation to purchase or rent, as well as their future plans, will unlock information that helps your clients make the right decision for them. 

Take Them on Property Tours (Virtually)  

If you are not already familiar with how to use tech tools to help with showings and sight-unseen transactions, it’s a must with military buyers. Here are a few ways to show homes virtually: 

  • Livestreaming vs. video: When possible, do both. FaceTime, WhatsApp, and video calls via Facebook Messenger are great for connecting live with your clients while showing the home. However, these live videos disappear, leaving there is nothing to go back to. Cell service doesn’t always play nice either. So always have back up.
  • Record a 10 to 20-minute video: Upload your video walkthrough to Google Photos, Dropbox or iCloud, and then send a link. This may take a few hours to upload, depending on the service, but it’s so worth it. A video can be played and replayed, so there is a huge benefit to one long video over a bunch of short clips. This will make you stand out for going above and beyond. 
  • Compile DIY research links: Recommend Google Maps, Google Earth, and send links to local schools, school review sites, the local police’s site, and any additional websites or apps that will make the long-distance purchase easier for the clients.

📌   Pro Tip

Show the good, the bad, and the ugly of the property.

Don’t try to censor from afar. It’s much better to have to find another home than to have an unhappy client once they see the place for the first time. Integrity is key. Future referrals will flow to honest agents. Just don’t forget to add the sight-unseen addendum where applicable!

Step 5: Start Working With Military Sellers

Once you have a few closed transactions with military buyers, you can start working with military sellers. Selling a service member’s home is pretty much identical to any other real estate transaction with one key difference: 

Active-duty sellers often know in advance that they will be PCSing, and they make preparations for the sale early. Military sellers often reach out to their original agent for help with the sale if the agent is still in contact with them. This is why putting your past buyers on a drip campaign is so important! 

Nurture Former Buyers to Generate Seller Leads

Being connected on Facebook is an easy way to stay in touch, as are newsletters and Instagram. There is that thing called the phone as well. It’s only a matter of time when your clients will be moving again. Then only one question remains: “Are you going to be selling or renting your home?”

If you’re having any doubts about working military relocations (hey, it’s not for everybody), check out Emile’s article with six more hot real estate niches here:

Related Article
6 Red-hot Real Estate Niches That Can Double Your GCI in 2022 & Beyond

Over to You

While this article doesn’t cover every aspect of working military relocations, it’s a great starting point if you’re new to the industry and live near a military base or are willing to relocate to one. I hope this helps you to better understand how the process works and the best ways to serve the real estate needs of this special group.

Still have questions about building a career working with active duty military personnel? Leave your questions in the comments below!

×
Want More Leads? Download Our Free E-book
61 proven lead gen ideas from coaches & top-producing agents to help you close more deals.
This email address is invalid.
×
Want even more free resources?
Tell us about you so we know what to send.
×
Want More Leads? Download Our Free E-book
61 proven lead gen ideas from coaches & top-producing agents.
×
Want even more free resources? Tell us about you so we know what to send.