Looking for a home? You may have heard that the agent you choose can make or break your homebuying process.
But if you’re a veteran, current servicemember, or eligible spouse looking to buy a home with a VA loan, the agent you choose may be even more important. Finding a realtor who understands the particulars of VA loans can have a huge impact on your experience.
Why Do I Need a Realtor Who Has Worked with the VA Loan?
The VA loan process includes steps that are unique in the mortgage world. If a realtor hasn’t had experience with VA loans, they simply won’t be able to navigate these details as smoothly as a realtor who has.
For example, the VA appraisal is a process that is specific to VA loans and may be unfamiliar to many real estate agents. Agents who have worked extensively with VA loans, however, know the timeline and Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs) of a VA appraisal and can often work efficiently through any issues to help the loan close faster.
Additionally, realtors familiar with VA loans can meet veteran-specific homebuying needs better than other realtors. Their history working with clients in the military can mean they’re easier to work with than other lenders.
Check out our graphic below for quick reference to what veteran real estate agents can offer:
These points are explained in more detail below:
- Understanding Veteran-Specific Needs, Like Quick Moves – Sometimes, veterans need to find a home quickly or buy a home without looking at it first. A good veteran realtor knows how to work efficiently and provide support within these and other limitations.
- Finding a VA Lender – If you haven’t found a good VA lender yet, a real estate agent who specializes in VA loans can help. They’ve likely had clients who’ve worked with different lenders, so they can give you some options.
- Making Sure Properties Are VA-Approved – Condos and townhomes need to be approved by the VA before a veteran can use a VA loan on them. VA home loan realtors will be on top of this.
- Finding Homes for Veterans with Disabilities/Injuries – Making sure a property meets the needs of veterans with a disability or injury will be a priority for a VA specialist.
- Assisting Veterans with PTSD – VA-familiar agents will be able to find a good location and a property that accommodates the specific needs a veteran with PTSD may have.
- Understanding Veteran Culture – Because veterans come from a distinct culture, working with a real estate agent who is familiar with this culture means they can help you navigate the feel of different neighborhoods to find one that’s the right fit for you.
- Helping Veterans Find Housing Grants – Experienced realtors can lead veterans to helpful resources like grants or other veteran assistance programs.
How Can I Find a VA Home Loan Realtor?
You now know why you want to find a veteran realtor, but knowing how is another story.
Ask a Trusted VA Lender
We just talked about how a good VA-familiar realtor can give recommendations for lenders, but it works the other way around as well.
If you’re already working with a VA lender and they’re a reputable and experienced company, they should have certain realtors they’re familiar with that they can refer you to.
At Low VA Rates, for example, we have a list of local realtors we’ve worked with that we’re happy to share with our clients. (Heck, having an outstanding realtor makes our jobs easier as well!)
Get Recommendations from Other Veterans
Perhaps one of the best ways to find a great, veteran-friendly realtor is to ask fellow veterans. Talk to those who have just bought a home in the area you’re looking in and ask for their suggestions.
Since the veteran community tends to be both honest and loyal to other veterans, you’re likely to get some great pointers for who to go with and who to avoid.
Research Online & Look at Reviews
Of course, one easy way to find realtors in your area is to look online.
Read reviews of local agents to see what experiences others have had with a realtor. Look for notes on whether the realtor specializes in VA loans, and don’t be afraid to make quick calls to check on their experience.
How to Choose a Veteran Realtor
Now that you’ve found a few names to get started with, you’ll want to know what to look for in a realtor.
Check out our video below to get started, then keep reading for some additional pointers.
Interview a Few VA Real Estate Agents
We can’t overstate how important it is to compare multiple real estate agents.
Just like with VA lenders, no two agents are the same. You’ll want to interview a few so you can find the best fit for your personality and needs.
Additionally, as you’re interviewing realtors, you’ll be able to compare their familiarity with VA loans.
What to Ask Your Realtor to Make Sure They Know VA Loans
Asking specific questions, including some of the following examples, can help you get a clearer picture of each real estate agent’s experience with VA loans.
These points are explained in more detail below:
1. Do you have any certifications or specialties in VA loans?
Although not every great veteran realtor will have specific certifications, some will, which can show an added dedication to veteran loans. Perhaps they have a Military Residential Specialist classification or are a Military Relocation Professional. Learning about any titles or training they may have received can be helpful in identifying their experience..
2. How many VA loans did you work with in the last year?
You’ll want to get an idea of how much recent work the realtor has done with VA loans. Anyone can say they’ve worked with VA loans, but not every agent can say they’ve recently done so or are currently.
You could follow up with the question, “How many of the last 10 loans you worked with were VA loans?” The number is less important than the fact that they’ve recently had experience with VA loans.
3. What is the VA homebuying process like?
With this question, you’ll want to look for a confident, easy answer. For a VA-experienced realtor, describing the process should be second nature.
Listen not only to whether they are familiar with the timeline and VA-specific steps, but also to how they communicate. Buying a home is a big commitment, and since the realtor will be leading you through the process, you will want to make sure their communication style suits you.
4. Do you have military experience?
Military experience doesn’t define whether a realtor will do a great job, but it certainly can indicate dedication to veterans and VA loans. It may mean they better understand your unique needs as a veteran.
5. Can you give me a list of veteran references?
This is perhaps the most key question to ask your prospective agents. Not only will you be able to hear from other veterans who’ve worked with this agent, but you’ll be able to observe how quickly the agent offers them to you.
Other Things to Help You Choose a Veteran Realtor
Look for an agent that is respectful and considerate. You want someone who will really take the time to help you through the process. Even the most experienced VA realtor in the world can be very busy or difficult to work with, making the process more complex than it needs to be.
Along that same vein, find a communication style that works for you. Ask your VA realtor (and any referrals) how they communicate with clients, how easy they are to reach, and how updated they keep homebuyers.
Pay attention to how you feel talking to the realtor as well. Do you trust them and feel like you’re in capable hands? Do you feel listened to? Do they seem prepared? These are important qualities to observe in the interaction.
Lastly, check for how much experience an agent has in the specific geographical area you’re looking in. Ask them how long they’ve worked in the area and how many homes they’ve recently helped people find.
Realtors can help you not only put a roof over your head, but also find a community that is safe, clean, and makes you and your loved ones comfortable.
Check out some of our other resources below to learn more about the topic.