By Phil Karp
Deployment and Permanent Changes of Station (PCS) are among the greatest challenges that military families face—especially when a financed home is brought into the mix. For many, time is of the essence to sell or risk juggling mortgage payments overseas. Luckily, there are several federal programs in place to provide servicemen with economic security during these periods of transition.
Whether you’re looking to relocate or prevent your mortgage from going underwater while deployed, here are some ways to sell your home a.s.a.p.
Enlist the help of a real estate agent
Home showings, marketing and price negotiations become your responsibility if you decide to go the for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) route. Save yourself time, money and stress by hiring a real estate agent. Find an industry expert who knows the local housing market like the back of his or her hand, and has the bandwidth to position your home to sell quickly. On average, agent-assisted listings earn an average of $55,000 more than FSBO sales.
Pictures are worth more than a thousand words
Property photos are important. Case in point: 84 percent of homebuyers and sellers claim they won’t consider listings without pictures. It is possible to take decent photographs with a smartphone. Still, listing photos taken with a DSLR camera tend to perform better, receiving an average of 61 percent more page views than other similarly priced properties. If you want to sell a home quickly, professional real estate photographers are worth their salt.
Leverage your VA Loan
VA loans have a unique feature called assumability, meaning homebuyers have the opportunity to take over your mortgage and payments instead of financing elsewhere. The no down payment requirement and low interest fixed rate can be great incentives, especially if local interest rates appear to be on the rise. Advertise a VA loan assumption sale to encourage more competitive bids.
Consider a short-sale
If you need to sell your home for less than it’s worth, a short sale might be worth considering. In years past, service members would have to be delinquent on their loans in order to qualify. However, as of 2012 homes financed through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac may be eligible for short-sale even when the borrower is current on payments if they have an eligible hardship—including job relocation.
Remember to keep short-sale as a last resort option as it can harm your credit score. You may be better off putting your Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) towards the mortgage until you find a buyer.
Phil Karp is a real estate expert and head of Brokerage Services at Owners.com, where buying and selling a home is made easy. He is proud to offer tips and advice to active military members who are looking to sell homes before deployment. In his downtime, he chases his passion for auto racing in the Greater Atlanta area that he calls home.