Typically, in the world of real estate, the emphasis on marketing is focused more toward benefiting sellers. However, for military service members, professional real estate media is helpful, important and absolutely necessary not just for home sellers but buyers as well. Let's take a look at three of those reasons...
1. Online House Hunting
As a service member, Permanent Change of Station (PCS) season can be stressful. In order to stay ahead of the game in keeping a roof over their family's head, they're having to house hunt from across the country, sometimes from across the world.
During my most recent PCS to Fort Hood, TX in 2018 my husband was deployed, but I luckily had some time off for the holidays and was able to get four days of leave approved to fly from Georgia to Texas and house hunt. And this is no joke, I looked at 30 houses in THREE days! Bless the heart of my amazing Realtor (and fellow Veteran), Lety Ford, for her time (over a weekend) and patience!
In order for those three days to go as smoothly as they did, it took a combined effort of preparation on both ends. The Realtor set me up on an online portal to go through listed homes and save my favorites that I wanted to see when I arrived. Meanwhile, the Realtor ensured all showing appointments were coordinated and that she had the key code to all vacant homes.
Fun fact, the home we picked in the end only had a curb-view photo! I didn't see photos of the inside until that weekend right before the tour. They were crappy cellphone shots and from the builder's website. But to to be fair, it was a brand new build that was very recently completed.
It was one of my most frustrating callbacks to that out-of-state house hunting experience. Even more so, was the time wasted looking at pre-owned homes that either didn't have any photos of the inside, or only had a few terrible photos that didn't show everything.
Professional real estate photos, walkthrough videos, 3D virtual tours and 2D schematic floor plans that clearly show as much of a home as possible, prevents military families from being forced to buy completely sight-unseen.
I'd say there's an argument to be made for this being the most important reason. Service members aren't given much time or opportunity to find the perfect home or to get the process started soon enough for a smooth transition.
For those service members not as lucky as I was (the majority), if they haven't closed on a home by time they officially start their PCS move, then they have no choice but to live in a hotel or lease an apartment with the bare minimum of belongings. Meanwhile, all their household goods remain packed away in a warehouse or storage unit for weeks or even months. That hotel bill coming out of the services member's pocket will likely end up costing way more than a monthly mortgage payment. And it typically takes months before they're finally reimbursed.
By the time they're able to move into their new home, and their household goods are being delivered, the service member (or members if dual military) are back at work; now juggling their demanding job requirements and moving their entire life into their home all at the same time. I've watched so many supervisors, peers and subordinates go through this crazy nightmare!
Unfortunately however, that's only half the battle; no pun intended… Usually, service members will utilize their VA Home Loan, leaving them scrambling to sell their previous home in order to restore their VA loan entitlement for use on their next house. So, they can't even buy the new home if they haven't sold the last. And the houses they were eyeing as favorites may be off the market by time their loan could be switch over. Even if they do qualify for a second VA loan, it can be a financial burden, because who would want to pay on two loans when they don't have to?
Real estate photography provides a clear picture of the property's size, layout, flow, feel, design and quality. This can help military members make informed decisions about whether or not to pursue a particular home. It can also help them compare different properties more accurately and make a more informed decision about which one to choose. The inability to be there in person and lack of time means its that much more necessary to provide the digital resource needed to make the best decision for their families.
PCS for Military Sellers
Of course professional real estate media is still very important for military sellers as well. In November 2021, my friend and former co-worker, Captain Camille Ritter, was selling her home for her upcoming PCS move. I got a frantic call from her needing my help. She asked me to come take photos of her home after seeing the cellphone photos her Realtor posted to the MLS. Canceling all my personal plans that day, I made it there in an hour. After my professional photos and walk-through video were posted to the MLS the very next day, her home came under contract in half the time!
"I was concerned when I saw her start to walk around the house taking photos with her cellphone. Then, I honestly considered having to fire my Realtor after I saw those photos posted," she told me. "Kara, you are a lifesaver!" she added.
Timing and Digital Resources are Everything
So, maximizing the effort with high-quality photos to sell a service member's home fast is just as necessary. Which, let's face it, will most likely be sold to another service member PCS'ing there eventually.
In a military town, it can most often come full circle. Ensuring military families get their homes sold fast with professional photos help both, those leaving and those coming in. They only get a short window of time, so it isn't just necessary, it's essential.
As a veteran, I truly can't emphasize enough how high-quality photos play such a vital role in making it all a smooth process. If you truly want to show your support and help out the military community, please ensure they have the tools they need to make the process a bit easier with professional digital media materials.