The MILITARY Advantage from
The MILITARY Advantage from
9 Ways to Sell Your Home Fast For the Most Money
The military has issued orders, and you’re selling your home while also trying to coordinate the five million details of not only finding a new house in a new location but also setting up the foundation for a successful transition for your family. You need your current home to sell quickly and for as much money as possible. While lots of variables outside of your control can affect the housing market, you can stack the deck to your advantage.
Make it feel like home. Do you remember what made you decide on your home when you bought it? Maybe you had to find a place quickly. Or maybe it was the right price. But chances are good that you also walked through each room imagining who would sleep in what room and where you’d eat meals together, etc. That is what you want potential buyers to do—imagine themselves living there. You want people to walk into your house and picture it as theirs already. You want it to feel like home to them…if “home” were clean and organized.
So clean out the junk and clutter. Wipe down surfaces. Fix the broken and banged-up things that you can within your budget and timelines. Then go a step further and make it appealing. Your house should look pretty, smell good, and feel warm and welcoming. You can easily and inexpensively evoke these feelings with something as simple as fresh cut flowers, fluffed sofa cushions, a cute welcome mat, bright lighting, smartly grouped furnishings, or any other number of details. Your real estate agent can help you to stage your home for maximum effect.
Remember curb appeal. Getting folks in the door is half the battle. So make sure the distance from the street to the door is attractive and well-maintained. Grass mowed or raked, depending upon the season; trash cleared; siding power washed; kids’ stuff put neatly away—the details matter. Bonus points for colorful landscaping or tasteful seasonal decor.
Maintain the order. Once you’ve decluttered and cleaned up both the inside and outside of your house, do your best to keep things that way. Assume someone could be stopping by at any time and act accordingly. Remind all family members, even if nagging is required, that they share responsibility in keeping things nice. That means making sure everyone stays on top of washing dishes, doing laundry, clearing surfaces, and the like. Whenever you’re leaving the house, do a quick scan of things to make sure everything’s neat and tidy. That way, if you’re away from home and someone wants to look at the house, it’s ready.
Be honest. Don’t oversell features or hide broken things. A home can be appealing without being deceptive. Otherwise, an inspection will likely reveal what you’ve been hiding. And then you’ll find yourself going back and forth negotiating over repairs or allowances/credits that must be made, which can cost you both time and money when all is said and done. That’s not to say you need to point out every scratch and scrape, but represent the condition of things honestly. Your agent can showcase what’s special about your house while also managing a potential buyer’s expectations.
Price your house right. A good price will bring motivated buyers in quickly. Haggling and bidding wars take time. The right price, even if it’s not your dream price, is more likely to result in a good offer made quickly. Too high a price and you turn potential buyers off. Too low and you take a financial hit and cause potential buyers to question what’s wrong with the property that you’re willing to sell for too little. Your agent knows what the local marketplace looks like and can help you find that pricing sweet spot.
Promote your house. Get as many eyes on it as possible. Your agent will be able to help with listing and posting/sharing via his or her network. But you can do your part too. Share that it’s for sale. Encourage your family and friends to do the same. Word of mouth, social media—it’s all fair game. Does your house have an interesting history or unique features? Tell its story. Storytelling can do so much more than pretty pictures. And if you’ve got the story and the great photos, you’re in even better shape.
Give folks a feel for your neighborhood. Don’t just include the minimum info about numbers of rooms and baths; give them a sense of what it’s like to live in your current town. Where do people like to gather? Who makes the best pizza? How close is the nearest movie theater, mall, library, or park? People buy houses, but they crave community. So share what your community is like.
Make yourself available. Easier said than done if you’re juggling the sale of one house with the whole process of uprooting your family to be planted wherever the military has decided. Still, say yes to as many opportunities to show your home as you possibly can. Even if it means asking someone to watch your kids or temporarily pet sit for you to make it happen.
Partner with a great real estate agent. There’s a lot to be done if you’re going to get a good price on your home and get it finalized quickly. Your agent is invaluable here. From helping you stage your home, to listing and sharing it, to pre-qualifying potential buyers, to showing it, and ultimately—ideally—to going through those fantastic offers you get, at every stage of this process your agent is your advocate. A positive outcome is in everyone’s best interest, and top-notch real estate agents will fight to make that happen for you.
In a perfect world, your home sells quickly and for more than your asking price. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Keep in mind that a quick sale and a sale that yields the most income for you can be at odds with each other. Only you know how much or how little time you have before you need to be at your next duty station. Only you know what your bottom line is financially. Communicate this information honestly to your real estate agent so he or she can best represent your needs. And help you get as close to the best of both worlds as possible.
Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining Your VA Loan Benefit
There’s a lot that is less than fantastic about military life. Missed birthdays and anniversaries. Worry during deployments. Picking up and moving time and again. But there are also perks to military life. One of those perks is the VA Loan Benefit. What’s not to like about a 0% down loan with no mandatory private mortgage insurance (PMI) and often with lower rates than a conventional loan? If you are eligible for this benefit, it’s one you should take advantage of.
Keep in mind: While it’s called a VA Loan Benefit, the VA does not provide home loans. What the VA does is act as the security of the loan, meaning the VA guarantees to cover the bank’s losses if there’s a default on the mortgage. This is added peace of mind for lenders!
Do you qualify? Did you or your spouse serve on active duty during wartime for 90 consecutive days? Or serve on active duty during peacetime for 181 days? Or serve in the National Guard or Reserves for six years? Were you or your spouse discharged from the service under honorable conditions? Or are you the spouse of a service member who died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related injury or disability? If you can respond with “yes” to one or more of these requirements, you should be eligible.
Prove you’re eligible. You’ll need to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to establish that you are indeed eligible for a VA Loan. You can do this yourself by completing a Certificate of Eligibility Request Form (VA Form 261880). Sign onto ebenefits.va.gov with your CAC card (ID card) to complete this form. This part of the process will require you to create an eBenefits account if you don’t already have one, or to login with existing credentials. Once on the site, click on the link entitled “Certificate of Eligibility for a Home Loan” and follow the instructions. Make sure to print out at least two copies of the COE—one for your own records and one for your mortgage lender.
Any questions or technical issues? You can contact VA/DoD at 1-800-983-0937. You can also ask your lender for assistance with obtaining your COE.
Speaking of lenders… While most lenders can offer VA Loans, it is to your advantage to choose a lender who specializes in them. One of the advantages of working with a military-serving real estate agent is that he or she knows and works with lenders with experience and expertise navigating the VA Loan program. This means smoother sailing for you!
Get your other documentation in order. You’re no stranger to needing documentation. Here’s where you’ll want to ensure you’re tracking which documents you’ll need: A DD-214 will verify an honorable discharge. You will also need to demonstrate that you have steady income sufficient to cover your mortgage payment and monthly expenses, so you’ll want to make sure you have your pay stubs or other proof of income readily available. While individual lender requirements may vary, you will likely be asked to produce bank statements, tax returns, W-2s, and orders (if you’re PCSing). Your lender will communicate any additional documentation that is necessary.
Pro tip: Put this information aside before you’re packing up if you’re in the middle of a move.
Once you’ve obtained your Certificate of Eligibility, put together your documentation, and assembled your dream team—an agent who is a pro at working with military families and a lender who’s comfortable with VA Loans—you’re ready to move forward with your home purchase. And in the process, you’ll be able to reap the financial rewards of a hard-earned benefit.
Six Reasons Why You Should Use a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home
Your next home relies on the sale of this one. Unless you are in the unique position of having discretionary spending enough to cover the cost of two mortgages concurrently, you need the proceeds from the sale of your current home to purchase your next home. And when you can’t move forward with plans for your next home, that means you also are not able to coordinate where the children will go to school. Or what service providers you’ll use to fix your car or treat a sick family member. Or where you will seek employment, if you are a military spouse uprooted from a job with your PCS. This can create a snowball of logistics that are on hold pending the finalization of the sale of your home. You need to sell your house quickly so that you can start working to set your family up for success in your new future home. And real estate agents expedite that process because they are in tune with the local marketplace and trends.
You’ve got enough on your plate already. A PCS means having a checklist of your checklists. You have possessions to inventory. Household goods to move or store. Vehicles to arrange transport for. Records to obtain from medical providers, employers, and schools. Commitments to end. Utilities to arrange. Insurance policies to revisit. Pets to vaccinate. Accounts to move or close. Finances to coordinate. Future home research to conduct. Family and friends to connect with before you leave. If you spent all day of every day working out the details, you’d still wake up every morning with an overwhelming feeling of all that is still left to do. Selling your home on your own in the midst of all that? That’s a tremendous number of balls up in the air, with a strong likelihood that something will be forgotten or come crashing down.
You need a reliable timeline. There is more to selling your home than giving tours to potentially interested parties. There are inquiries on your listing to manage, showings to coordinate, and screenings of potential buyers to determine if they are in fact pre-approved or at least pre-qualified to make a purchase. There is legal paperwork to complete, contracts to negotiate, several kinds of inspections to manage, and more. If selling your home is not your full-time job, then you will be trying to fit these activities into an already full schedule, which means that the number of potential buyers who see your home is limited to your availability to engage with them. Selling your home is your real estate agent’s full-time job.
Market exposure is important. The military community is a great resource. You likely have a wonderful village of people who will be happy to share your home listing with their friends and family. What you don’t have is exposure to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) database and to all the other sites receiving data from that site. Your village’s friends and family aren’t all in the market for a home. But the thousands of potential buyers in the database? They are. And like you when you PCSed, in a military community your next buyer is not likely coming from down the street. A sign in the yard and an ad in the paper isn’t enough. Global reach is important. Using a real estate agent gets your listing in front of significantly more eyes than you could ever hope to. Your village just got a whole lot bigger.
Inexperience can be costly. Even if you’ve PCSed half a dozen times already, even if you’ve bought and sold more houses than you care to think about by now, know this: The average real estate agent sells about twelve homes per year (National Association of Realtors 2017 Member Profile). And we know you won’t be using just an average real estate agent because you’re a pro PCSer who will have done your homework, gathered your intel, and found a great military-savvy agent to advocate for you. [CAN TIE IN LINK TO OUR PREVIOUS “THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A REAL ESTATE AGENT” PIECE HERE]. In other words, you’ll want to work with someone who has been through this process numerous times—someone who knows how best to price a property, how to avoid expensive mistakes, and how to negotiate exceptionally well. The investment in a trained and experienced real estate agent can very easily cover the cost of their commission.
Speaking of commission… A seller-agent relationship is one of mutual benefit. Both parties profit when you get at or above your asking price. You share the same desired outcome: top dollar for your property. Real estate agents are incredibly motivated to see you both do well, and it’s their job to make that happen.
Staging Your Home to Sell During the Holidays
The idea of staging and showing your home over the holidays perhaps has you less than enthused. One more thing to deal with during an already incredibly busy season, right? Besides, who’s looking at houses this time of year anyway? You might be surprised to learn that this can, in fact, be a great time of year to show your home. Anyone who is voluntarily subjecting themselves to a home purchase over these next couple of months is inclined to be someone serious about buying. Like a military family with a particularly difficult PCS window.
Potential buyers with a deadline, fewer homes on the market, and a magical time of year? These can all work to your advantage when you’ve got a home to sell during the holidays.
Make sure the basics are covered first. You’re likely already familiar with this “to-do” list for showing your house. Fix the broken things. Clean the dirty things. Get rid of the unnecessary things. And that’s all sound advice year-round. But once those tasks are taken care of, here are some tips unique to staging a home during the holidays.
Consider what puts you in a festive mood. Is it the smell of hot cider or cocoa? The sounds of holiday tunes playing in the background? Stockings on the mantle? Mistletoe over a doorway? That feeling you get when you sense those things is the feeling you want your home to give.
Don’t be a Scrooge. Perhaps you’re not feeling particularly festive. Or you’ve got complicated feelings about what may be your last holiday in your current home. If you’re unmotivated to decorate, don’t pass on the holiday cheer just yet. You can project a warm and inviting feel with even a few small touches around your home—a couple strings of lights, an apple spice candle, a simple wreath on your front door can all make it feel like a special time of year without requiring any major decorating effort on your part. For a potential military-connected buyer, who has no doubt spent his or her share of holidays celebrating with stockings in a motel room while living out of boxes mid-move, those small touches will have a big impact.
But don’t go overboard either. Those people who start decorating in October to get all ten thousand figurines in their yard in time for the holidays? Their houses are great to visit, but they aren’t the house a buyer wants to see when pulling into your driveway. If in doubt, think elegant, timeless, and classy rather than penguin family on a sled. Save that for the front yard of your next home.
Be mindful of diversity. Yes, it’s the holiday season. But it’s not a one holiday season. You want as many prospective buyers looking at your house as possible. And Christmas may not be the reason for the season for all of them. Choose more neutral trimmings over those with religious connotations. Clear lights, evergreens, etc. are flattering to all homes and unlikely to be off-putting to a potential buyer. Remember that staging your home for the holidays is more about what will be appealing to a buyer and less about what is meaningful and significant to you and your family.
Remember your goal. Your end goal is to sell your house. The trimmings and good tidings are a fun and beautiful part of the season that can also put your house in the best light. But at the end of the day, a potential buyer still wants all the things that buyers want—open spaces, nice lines, counter space, etc. Make sure that whatever additions you make in the name of decorating don’t conflict with that.
Involve your real estate agent. She has shown her share of houses. He knows what will make your home more appealing to a prospective buyer (and what to hide). She has a vast network of local vendors and businesses and likely her own supply of furniture, accessories, and decorations that can brighten up your space. Ask your agent to walk through your home and provide feedback about staging it to show its full potential. You won’t regret it.
Potential buyers want to imagine themselves and their families living in a house and creating their own special memories there. With the right touches, they’ll be picturing their first holiday season in their new home when they walk through your door.
Most military-connected folks will tell you that one of the downsides to this life is the seemingly constant moving from one place to the next. But this transient lifestyle presents you with a unique opportunity as well. With each move, you get to leave your own distinctive decorating mark on your new home. You can experiment with different colors and mediums without being committed to them over the long haul. All you need to do is roll up your sleeves and let yourself be inspired.
Whether you like to read digital magazines online or prefer the feel of a real “book” in your hands, magazines are a great source of design inspiration.
You can start with lifestyle magazines like Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, and Good Housekeeping. These types of publications usually cover leisure, fashion, health, decorating, and culture, or some combination of any of these. They’re the same magazines you’re likely to find in the checkout aisle of the grocery store. The ones that promise they’ll show you how to organize your kitchen, pull off the perfect outdoor barbeque, or keep up with the latest fitness craze. They’re not marketed as design magazines, but they’ve got their finger on the pulse of what’s new and trending.
Interested in a lifestyle magazine focused specifically on military spouses and families? Check out Military Spouse Magazine. You’ll find page after page of beautiful photos and inspiring stories about people living this life and how they make it work. (And how they’re handling the frequent moves, just like you.)
If your taste is eclectic, or if you’re not sure what your taste is just yet, there are a whole host of magazines geared toward interior design and decorating. HGTV promises real-life solutions for all the things that homeowners deal with every day. Interior Designshowcases the latest design trends and ideas. Elle Decor markets itself as home design for the fashion-conscious soul. House Beautiful offers inspiration for home design and lifestyle. Architectural Digest features both classic and contemporary design styles.
Magazines like Town & Country, Veranda, and Luxe cater to an upscale, luxury crowd. While admittedly, “upscale” and “luxury” aren’t typically words you find in the same sentence as “military family,” don’t let that deter you from sourcing them for ideas. You can create a budget-friendly version of practically any high-ticket item design if you’re resourceful and creative enough.
Then there’s a whole niche market of design magazines. Like a country aesthetic? There’s Country Living, Southern Living, and Country Sampler to name just a few. Dream of a home inspired by life on the water? That’s Coastal Living’s focus. Fond of Victorian stylings? Then grab Romantic Homes and Victorian Homes. Prefer a beautiful ranch feel? Try Atomic Ranch. Modest 20th century homes? Pick up a copy of American Bungalow. Modern flair? You’ll find that in Dwell.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of what’s out there in terms of magazines focused on interior design. There is something that fits everyone’s sense of style. The wonderful thing is that you don’t have to be committed to any one look or feel; you can choose across styles. Let magazines like these be inspiration, but not gospel. For example, you may have modern taste but find the perfect piece of furniture in a country design magazine that you can make work with your other more contemporary pieces.
And think outside the box, too. A magazine doesn’t have to be labeled as a design or lifestyle magazine for it to be a great source of design inspiration. Peruse the magazines you see in waiting rooms or at your local library. That copy of Outdoor Life or Field & Stream might just remind you that there are other applications for camouflage besides military uniforms and tanks. Or check out the latest issues of top fashion magazines—like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, or InStyle—for tips on trending colors, patterns, and fabrics.
Pay attention to whatever catches your eye or draws your interest. Inspiration can come from anywhere!
Military families can be very quick to dismiss home ownership as a viable option until they’re ready for their forever home. But with the help of a real estate agent, you can find a “right-now” home that serves your family well.
You can potentially pay less to own than to rent. Don’t assume that it will be less expensive to rent than to own. You won’t know if that is true or not until you run the numbers. You should speak with a trusted financial advisor who can help you factor in variables such as income, anticipated length of time you are likely to stay in the area, size of your family, tax consequences, and more.
You may be surprised to find that a mortgage payment can cost less per month than rent. This is particularly true if you have a larger family and/or any specific accommodations that are necessary in terms of accessibility. It can be more challenging to find rental properties with more bedrooms and bathrooms. Should you find such a property available, you’ll obviously pay more for the space. And if you’re in the middle of PCS season and competing with other large military families seeking out rentals, the supply and demand situation can be even more tricky.
When you consider that a VA loan does not require a down payment or mortgage insurance, then you’ll also realize that you won’t find yourself in a position where you must come up with two months’ worth of payments (first and last month’s rent) at once. And don’t forget to factor in tax breaks. You can deduct property taxes and mortgage interest from your federal income tax. Make sure to speak with your financial advisor for guidance on how these breaks would impact you.
Appreciation—the increase in a home’s value over time—can work to your advantage. Anyone who tells you that your home will increase in value from the purchase price is either a liar or a psychic. But your real estate agent is knowledgeable about market trends over time and can give you some great insight into what you can expect in terms of potential return on investment from your home purchase. In the right market, and with the right guidance, it is not unreasonable to expect you might end up ahead (or at least even) on your purchase.
That scenario, however, will not ever be the case with a property you rent from someone else. When you rent, all you’ll have to show for your investment is that you had a roof you had over your head for the duration of your rental agreement. When you buy a home, however, you’ve begun to build equity, even if there’s no appreciation and even if you end up selling your home long before you have paid off your mortgage.
You can do what you want to a home you buy. You don’t need anyone’s permission to change wall colors or to tackle repairs and/or renovations. (You’ll of course need to check with your local township regarding permits for renovations first.) You are free to change your home to suit your needs and preferences.
As a homeowner, you can also modify your home to make it more appealing to potential buyers or renters if/when the military has other plans for where you call home. And those home upgrades mean you can ask for higher rent or a higher asking price when you’re ready to rent or sell. Remember to speak with your real estate agent about any renovations you have in mind with the intent to make your home more marketable. Your agent will be able to provide you with relevant feedback regarding your local market, current trends, and buyers’ preferences.
You can bring your beloved family pets with you. The reality is that, for many military families, moving into a rental property can mean having to make other lodging arrangements for family pets. It can be difficult to find rental properties that accept pets. Those landlords who do often enforce stipulations about the size and type of pets you can have. Not popular even among landlords who are open-minded about pets? Big breed dogs or dogs who’ve gotten a bad rep, like pit bulls for instance. And there’s likely to be added expenses you’d need to factor in if you were incredibly lucky and allowed to move your pet in. Many rental properties require animal securities and/or monthly fees for the privilege of having your pet with you. If you own your home, though, then you get to decide who lives there—humans and animals alike.
You’ll have more flexibility if there’s a sudden change in orders in the middle of a tour or deployment. Yes, you’ll still be responsible for making your regular mortgage payments until you can find tenants or sell the property. But nobody will make you move all your belongings out immediately or charge you for the three months of a year’s lease that you can’t get out of. While there are protections in place that should make it possible for you to break such a lease if you are an active duty family whose orders change, you may find yourself in a heated and prolonged argument—or court battle—before it all gets straightened out (particularly if you live off post). As a homeowner, you’ll be able to list your property for rent or for sale when you want or need to.
The best decision about whether to rent or to own is the one that factors in what works for your family. With your real estate agent on your team, you can trust that your next home, whether you rent or buy it, will be the right home for you.
You’re about to list your home and perhaps feel overwhelmed by the number of things you think you need to deal with before that can happen. The broken things. The worn and torn things. The guidance from your friends with too many opinions and the internet. The easiest way to help that overwhelmed feeling subside is to have a plan of action. That’s what we’ll help you create here.
Keep this in mind: Your list of “must-do” items should not be about doing to your home what would be of interest to you; rather, focus on what a buyer would want. Buyers want to see a home that is well-maintained and in good working order. And most actionable items that meet this need fall into one of two categories for the purposes of this conversation: things that will prevent a sale and things that will make your home more appealing.
Things That Will Prevent a Sale
Unless you’re marketing a fixer-upper, most buyers want to buy a house that’s move-in ready. And after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a home, they’re not too inclined to take on big-ticket repairs or replacements.
Structural and Mechanical. Some of the highest ticket items in a home are the structural and mechanical systems, including the roof, air conditioning and heating, water heater, pipes, and electrical panel. If you’re aware of a problem with any of these things, this is your priority. Not only do buyers want all of the structural and mechanical aspects of the home to be working and in good shape, but any of these things in disrepair can also impact a buyer’s financing and thus the viability of their purchase, which is especially true for FHA and VA loans.
Roof. If your roof needs to be repaired or replaced, attend to this first. Visible damage to the roof can stop a sale before it even begins, as it’s the first thing a prospective buyer may notice. A home in need of a new roof can be a difficult home to sell. Repairing or replacing the roof is a maintenance issue, and while you can’t count on it to increase the value of your home, it will increase the marketability of your home. Buyers want to know the literal and figurative roof over their heads is safe and sound.
Siding, Shingles, and More. While you’re already outside checking out that roof, look for any missing or damaged siding and shingles, or anything on the external part of the house that buyers will notice. Repairing these things now means you don’t have to make allowances to the buyer later.
Plumbing and Electrical. Now is also the time to fix any plumbing and electrical issues. Outdated electrical panel? Running toilets? Leaky or clogged faucets? Showers that only run cold? Many of these repairs are relatively inexpensive but important. (While not as important, replacing those toilet seats while you’re working on the bathrooms will make the toilets look better, too!)
Available technology makes it easier than ever for military families to learn about their duty station. But searching on Google alone won’t cut it. That’s where social media swoops in to save the day and can make you an expert on your new neighborhood before you even get there!
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how awesome Pinterest is for gathering and storing information in one place, but it is also a great tool for moving that shouldn’t be overlooked. As soon as you get orders to your next duty station, create a board on Pinterest titled with the name of your new duty station. Then start gathering pins related to the base and the area.
The best part about this? Many other military spouses have already traveled down the road you’re on. So it’s likely they’ve created or shared pins related to your duty station already. What’s better than collecting information curated by someone who’s been in your shoes?
Hashtags are a great way to geotag photos without actually using your GPS or “checking in” anywhere. Any time someone posts a picture to Instagram and adds a hashtag with a location that will be searchable by you (depending on their privacy settings).
So to start getting a visual idea of what your base and the surrounding areas look like, you can go on Instagram and start searching hashtags. Start by searching “#YourDutyStationName” (as in #FortHood). This will show you what real people are doing in the area and what they think about it.
A word of warning though: Take the comments and captions with a grain of salt. Everyone has a unique outlook on life so their comments might not be very objective.
Hack 3—Facebook Pages
I’m guessing that any time you receive orders, you immediately hop on Facebook and join the local spouse page at your new base. While there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s so much more to Facebook pages than just the spouses’ groups!
This one may sound a little goofy since Snapchat is used for more personal purposes (like sending funny photos of your face switched with your cat’s to your best friend). But it can also be used to help you discover more about your next base.
Hack 5—Facebook Live
Facebook Live is a fantastic tool for checking out a potential property. You can reach out to a friend and ask them to create a Facebook live video for you. They can set their audience for the video to just you so you’re the only one who can view the video.
They can then create a video while walking through a potential property. They can talk about what they like, don’t like, or anything that stands out. The best part about this tool is, once they’re done filming, they can save the video to their timeline (where only you will be able to see it!), and you can go back and review the video over and over again.
This makes it easier than doing a Facetime video with a friend and frantically trying to take notes while also trying to watch everything they’re showing you. This also helps you avoid the Facetime/video call barrier if you have phones that aren’t compatible.
Researching your next duty station doesn’t have to be all work… it can also be fun! By using the five tools above, you’ll get a fuller sense of what your next installation looks like and what life will be like on your next adventure!
When the PCS Odds are NOT in Your Favor
You prepared, researched like a BOSS, and have the perfect house lined up at your next duty station. Way to work it! Moving day arrives, and you entrust thousands of pounds of your life to a crew of packers and movers and hope/PRAY for the best!
Now, listen friends?—?sometimes this goes smoothly and without any major issues. If you get through a PCS with minimal damage and heartache, stop reading this and go buy a lottery ticket! No, really?—?we’ll wait…
Sometimes, however, it can go really, really badly. Summertime is peak moving season and transportation companies are usually overwhelmed by the demand. We know, it confuses us too why “This is such a busy season” seems to be the go-to excuse. Every. Single. Year. There is a huge margin for error on their end and unfortunately we bear the brunt of those errors and suffer the material losses.
So, what do you do when it all goes wrong? You need to file a claim with the moving company, otherwise known as the Transportation Service Provider (or TSP). They broke/lost/mishandled it, so they are responsible?—?not your insurance, not the military, or the Department of Defense. You have 75 days to file the Loss and Damage Report, which initiates the process. After that, you have nine months to file your Claim (what you want them to do about it).
It seems like an overwhelming task (it’s a doozy), during a time when you’re already stressed to the max. But if your losses were significant, DO IT. Not only will this help replace/repair your things, but it will help the DoD track how well their contracted companies are performing. So help out your fellow movers by reporting bad movers!
Step Two—Complete a Loss/Damage Report
Step Three—Submit Your Damage Claim
The Loss/Damage Report is only one step. This form basically initiates the claims process and serves as notification to your TSP that you intend to file a claim. The report must be completed with 75 days of delivery of your HHGs. Your TSP will then contact you regarding your actual claim, which you have nine months to file. The itemized damage claim must also be filed through the DPS site, and resembles the process to file the Loss/Damage Report – with a little more detail. Once you’ve catalogued all the damage to your items, you can submit the claim to your TSP through the DPS form (I know, enough already with the acronyms!).
So what can you expect to happen now? The TSP has 30 days to respond to your claim. They can either repair your damaged items, compensate you to have items repaired, or settle with you for the Full Replacement Value (FRV) of the item.
If they do not respond within 30 days of the claim, or respond with an unacceptable offer, you can transfer your claim to the Military Claims Office (MCO). They’ll compensate you for the depreciated FRV, and take over the fight with your TSP. If they do well, they’ll pay you the difference.
Just remember — if you had a mishap or an all out PCS tragedy, there is something you can do about it! It’s tedious, and time consuming, and literally the LAST thing you want to deal with, but there is hope! Get organized, make your voice heard, and hang in there.