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For real estate professionals who work in areas with a strong military presence—either active duty, retired, reserve or National Guard—the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Military Relocation Professional (MRP) certification can give them a leg up on the competition.

Having honorably served our country from 1999-2008 in the United States Marine Corps, Andrew Finney—a real estate consultant for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties—became curious about the real estate market during his time serving and wanted to get his license. After transferring from Okinawa, Japan, to San Diego, Calif., he worked at his goal and finally succeeded in 2013 once his school and military commitments were done.

“I first learned about NAR’s MRP certification in 2015, and decided to get it since the majority of the families I work with are active duty or veterans,” says Finney, who has helped roughly 90 families buy or sell homes since beginning his real estate career. “The main reason I earned the MRP is because my goal is to always provide my clients with the highest level of service while safeguarding their best interests. Even though being active duty for just shy of nine years taught me much about what’s contained within the MRP, I found great value in taking the online course at my own pace, and the insights that were offered have been invaluable.”

In addition to helping Finney stay increasingly cognizant of how active duty PCS (permanent change of station) orders work for families, the certification has been instrumental when it comes to helping clients understand their door-to-door move priority.

“A major benefit is the MRP Facebook page,” adds Finney. “The community of MRP real estate professionals across the country is amazing. In fact, in several cases, I utilized the MRP Facebook page to find agents in other locales for the active duty and/or veterans that contacted me. The MRP community is a tight-knit bunch that’s always ready to help our nation’s brave active duty and veterans succeed in buying and/or selling their homes.”

Recently, Finney was contacted by an active duty USAF Airman about buying a home in his home state of Las Vegas, Nev., but his PCS orders came through, so Finney was able to connect the man and his family with a fellow MRP agent through the Facebook page in just minutes.

“I make a point to listen carefully and attentively as they share with me what’s most important in their home-buying/-selling experience,” says Finney. “Then, we devise a winning strategy for them to successfully buy and/or sell their home within the timeframe they need with the terms they’re seeking.

“They deserve all of our respect, compassion, professionalism and dedication in providing exemplary real estate service to them,” adds Finney, who believes that anyone with a passion to help active duty and veterans through the real estate process should earn the MRP certification so they can best help these individuals understand what’s most important to them.

“From my experience, most agents don’t really know how the VA loan process works, or the active duty or veteran mindset itself. If you want to provide service that’s second to none for active duty and veterans, jump off the fence now and earn NAR’s MRP.”

For Cindy Jones—an associate broker with Integrity Real Estate Group in Alexandria, Va.—whose primary focus in the Northern Virginia area includes the Pentagon, Fort Belvoir and MCB Quantico, NAR’s MRP certification is vital.

After a career as a college administrator and working as a consultant for major education technology vendors, Jones received her real estate license in 2003 and her broker license in 2006.

“Since my primary business is working with military families, it was a natural fit to take the course and earn the MRP certification,” she says. “Having the MRP adds another layer of confidence for our service members to know they’re working with a real estate professional who not only has experience in helping families make moves that are sometimes difficult, but also education on the basics of VA mortgages and the challenges facing military families when they receive orders.”

In fact, a few years ago, Jones was contacted by a retired Marine officer who was struggling to come up with the 20 percent down payment they thought they needed to buy a home in her area.

“One of the first questions I asked was whether they were eligible for a VA home loan—a question I learned to ask immediately in the MRP class,” says Jones. “They were under the impression they could only use a VA home loan one time, something they had done 20 years prior when stationed in Texas. I quickly connected them to a local lender who specializes in VA home loans, and 45 days later, they were in their new home using their VA benefits with no money down.”

Jim Green, a REALTOR® in Colonial Beach, Va., says since he lives and works in an area with a large active duty and retired military presence, being able to show that he has training that’s specific to helping these individuals with their transition helps distinguish him from other agents who may not understand the needs of military families.

“When you’re dealing with the nation’s best—and that’s what we’re doing—you want to make sure you provide top-notch service and take care of them,” he says. “I’m a former Navy cruiser destroyer type of guy and was a defense contractor for 30 years, so I speak their language and I know what these families are going through.”

Impressed with the MRP class, Green says it provided him with a strong set of tools that, when combined with his background, helped him increase his business as he’s been able to guide hundreds of families through a smooth home transition.

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