3 Ways to Sell Your Home as a Military Family

With every PCS comes the age-old question: What are we going to do for housing? Do we rent? Do we buy? Do we live on base? Off base? Each duty station has its unique quirks, and with that comes different considerations for where you may want to live.

Taking the leap into homeownership, especially as a military family, is a daunting investment. Many families decide to buy so as to be able to rent their home out in the future. Others want to be sure their BAH is being invested into something concrete. No matter the reason for your purchase, however, the time may come one day to sell your property. There are actually several different ways you can do this, such as traditional Realtors, discount brokers and independent sale.

These three types of home sales are similar in many respects, but which one you go with depends on your family’s personal preferences and how involved you want to be in the home selling process.

1. Traditional Realtor

A traditional Realtor is what most people think of when they think of a home sale. This person helps manage every step of the home selling process, including helping to prep your home for sale and walking you through the negotiations and contracts.

2. Discount Broker

A discount broker, such as Redfin, is similar to a traditional Realtor except they are less involved with the selling process. They will help you list your home on MLS and other websites, but they do not help with some of the other concierge services like staging or getting people in the door.

3. Independent Sale

An independent sale is the least known way to sell your home. With organizations like Military By Owner, you are 100 percent responsible for all transactions with the sale, including preparing, staging and photographing your home, advertising, showings and contract transactions.

What You Need for a Sale

The main reason many people choose to go with a discount broker like Redfin or an independent sale like Military By Owner is because of the rate of commission. Many times with real estate agents, the seller pays the closing costs, meaning the commission that is paid to both the buyer and the seller agents comes out of the sale of your home and effectively, you make less money. The commission rate for discount brokers and independent sales is markedly lower than that of a traditional Realtor. But there are pros and cons to each option, so it is important to understand exactly what you are going to need to do if you decide not to hire a traditional Realtor.

Below is a table of what you can expect from each type of home sale to help you better decide which option is for you:


Geographical Knowledge Staging and Advertising Expertise on Laws and


Closing Process Commission Rate








Traditional Realtor

A traditional Realtor will have expert knowledge in the surrounding area and will be able to pull comparable homes for pricing. A traditional Realtor often will help you stage your home for sale, as well as take professional photos and videos. They will list your home on MLS and advertise. They also will push your home with potential buyers in their firm. They will host open houses. A Realtor will be your expert on the selling process including fees, laws, inspections and assessments. They will attend inspections and assessments for you.


Your Realtor will be the middle man for any negotiations.

Your Realtor will walk you through the closing process. They will create all contracts, addendums and they will contact a title company for closing. 6 percent to 3 percent for seller agent; 3 percent for buyer agent.


*This can be negotiated. Closing and buyer agent fees aren’t always paid by the seller but it is the most common practice.











Discount Broker

A discount broker will have some knowledge of the surrounding area, but they cover a significantly higher number of clients than a regular Realtor so they may not be as available. Many will have associates to help you, so you may not have the same consistency as a  regular Realtor. A discount broker will often help photograph and video your home, but they do not provide staging services. They will list your home on MLS and give you advertising materials like fliers and signs. They may host open houses. A discount broker will answer any questions you may have about laws and fees, and they will often attend  inspections or assessments depending on the organization.


Many will help you negotiate during the selling process.

A discount broker will walk you through the closing process. They will create all contracts, addendums and they will contact a title company for closing.


They do not attend closing.

4.5 percent to 1.5 percent for the listing; 3 percent for the buyer agent.








Independent Sale

You are your own expert in this area, and you will have to come up with comparable homes for pricing. You are responsible for staging, photographing and advertising your home. Some organizations like MBO will provide small signs to place in front of your home. You are responsible for listing on MLS, which can be done by an independent contractor. You must have knowledge of any laws and fees associated with selling your home, including buyer contracts, bank loan notes and escrow.


You are responsible for negotiations.

You are responsible for any contracts, forms and legal paperwork. It is advised to hire a real estate lawyer to aid in this process. 3 percent. If you are paying closing costs for the buyer’s agent, you will only pay their commission rate, which is typically 3 percent.


Once you have decided how you want to sell your home it’s time to get to work. You will spend quite a bit of time and energy cleaning, purging and staging your home so you are able to get the highest price possible. As military families, home sales can be even more worrisome because we often are on a time crunch between orders.

But if you are able to go into the process prepared, you will have a much easier time getting your home on the market and sold. And if your sale goes smoothly, hopefully your household goods will make it to your new home in similar fashion. But that might just be asking for too much from the Military Gods of PCS.

6 Tips for Staging

So you’re getting ready to sell your home, but you aren’t sure how to make it look like those homes you see in the magazines? Here are some tips to get your house in tip-top shape (and keep it that way) for when potential buyers come a-knockin’:

  1. Declutter. Less is more so get rid of or hide everything you can. Some people rent storage units for this period.
  2. Depersonalize. Remove all personal pictures and artifacts.
  3. Product, not a Home. Think of your home as a product that you are trying to sell. You want the new owners to be able to picture themselves living there- not you living there!
  4. Prepare at Night. Do a final walk through of your house at night to get everything ready for any potential showings the next day — vacuum, wipe down counters and hide anything you can.
  5. Handy Wipes. Place counter and window wipes in each bathroom for easy cleaning.
  6. Replace It. Get a few new pillows for the couch or a new area rug. A few new items can make the room pop.
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