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How To Give 5-Star Service To Your Military And Veteran Clients

Working with veterans can be different than working with other clients. But ultimately, our job as real estate professionals is to understand our clients and how to best serve them through one of the most important purchases of their lives.

Coach In Article CopyWith the new year upon us, it’s time to level up. We close out the year with a month-long focus on real estate coaches and the value of ongoing training. Expect advice from the top real estate coaches, deep evergreen training resources and more during Inman’s Coaching and Training Month.

If you’re considering upgrading by pursuing the Military Relocation Professional (MRP) certification, here’s real-world advice from veteran and Realtor Kristy Kowalski.

After retiring from a 20-year career in the US Navy, which included elite duty and two combat tours in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, I entered real estate in 2014 as an agent. I opened my own brokerage in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2018.

I may have started a new career, but being a veteran is a significant part of my identity, including within the real estate industry and my community.

When I started my business, I used what I learned in the military to cultivate a highly successful performance-driven culture by putting structure and accountability in place. As someone who is very passionate about helping people – something ingrained in my years of service to this country – I try to lead by example and instill the same passion in my agents.

It is no surprise that I am passionate about serving all of my clients, including my fellow veterans. In real estate, agents often find that working with VA loans can be cumbersome and time-consuming, which means they may shy away from clients who want to use that program. As a result, veterans tend to be an overlooked customer segment.

In my opinion, veterans deserve the utmost in being employed by someone who appreciates their sacrifice and is willing to do whatever it takes to find them a home. It takes a special type of person to join the military and maintain their service. It is helpful for agents to understand some of the things the military instills in its servicemen and women.

Here are some of the things I tell my agents.

  • Being in the military automatically makes you part of a brotherhood and sisterhood whose bonds cannot be broken. Your service becomes a part of you, as does your desire to care for others, especially your own. The mantra of “no one left behind” never leaves you. Buying a home for their family is the ultimate service for a veteran because a home provides security and stability for their new “unit.”
  • Everyone in the military has a specialized skill and expertise, so they appreciate and respect the unique skills that a real estate agent brings to the table. They will rely on their agent for not only education about the process and options available to them, but also for their advice. Make sure they understand everything you tell them at every step. These “information sessions” are an important part of how they approach their “mission” to buy a home.
  • Veterans are some of the strongest buyers in the world. They saved money and if they use a VA loan, they don’t have to put any money down. This is a deal you can get to close. In my experience, most veterans are not talkers; they are listeners. They spent their time in the service taking orders, not questioning them, so they are very quick to provide all the necessary documents.
  • Many veterans have endured hardships that may affect them in some way. They may have invisible wounds that affect how they deal with stress or unfamiliar situations. I have found that one of the best approaches in these cases is to avoid any possible surprises or setbacks by discussing what to expect beforehand. One example is what can happen after we submit an offer. We talk through the possible scenarios and discuss answers. Affordability is a major concern for veterans on a fixed income. Their debt-to-income ratio may be low, but their monthly payment may be higher when using a VA loan, so we must always consider the financial impact of any development.

Working with veterans can be different than working with other clients. But ultimately, our job as real estate professionals is to understand our clients and how to best serve them through one of the most important purchases of their lives.

When a veteran buys a home, I feel so honored to have helped them reach this milestone. They have done more than the average person does in their lifetime, and in my mind they deserve a level of service that honors their sacrifice.

Kristy Kowalski is a Navy veteran and broker/owner at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Green Country serving Tulsa and Northern Oklahoma. Connect with her on Facebook.

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