Whether you’re seeking a new real-estate agent via referrals or web searches, there’s no guarantee you’ll find the perfect match out of the gate ... especially if you’re not asking the right questions.
We asked three Realtors who are well-versed in both service and selling houses for some advice on what makes a good agent. Keep their tips in mind as you seek help to seek out your next home:
1. VA experience matters ... “It is extremely important to know if your agent has experience in the VA home loan for you to be successful in your house hunt,” said Lauren Taylor, a San Diego-based Realtor who began her real-estate career while her sailor-husband was on deployment. “When interviewing agents ask how many transactions they have closed in the last 12 months using the VA home loan.”
2. ... but so does ANY experience. Be wary of part-time agents, said Travis Winfield, another San Diego-based agent and a retired Navy command senior chief. The only license more popular in California than a real-estate license is one that lets you drive a car, he said: “It is critical that you ensure your realtor has the experience to properly represent you in possibly the biggest financial investment of your life.”
3. Market knowledge. For buyers in areas without an overwhelming military presence, it’s even more important to find agents who can navigate a VA-backed loan process. “While using the VA loan is a great way to go, in some markets the general public (and even some agents) aren't well-versed on them,” said Juanita Charles, a disabled Army veteran and Realtor based out of Clarksville, Tennessee, near Fort Campbell. “So using a VA loan can become a deterrent to your offer being accepted.”
The ideal agent will understand these local concerns and help educate sellers, to the benefit of VA-backed loan users.
4. Run from red flags. Regardless of the reference a Realtor receives or the “military-friendly” promises on a website, think twice if the agent tells you a VA loan is “hard to use,” Charles said. This could indicate inexperience with the system; while there may be locality-based stumbling blocks (see above), VA-backed loans shouldn’t prompt such a warning from any agent, she said.
Ready to make the leap? Check out our VA Loan Center for details.