Brokerage

Homes for America’s heroes and how you can help

What you can do to help your local service members, teachers
Published on May 18, 2015

As America celebrates Memorial Day next week, it’s important to remember those who have made serving their country their life’s mission. Whether it’s someone serving in the military, or a police officer, fireman, teacher or doctor, Homes for Heroes is committed to helping these individuals become homeowners.

Many people who devote their lives to public or military service often lack sufficient resources to make a down payment on a home. Others struggle after being injured during their service when they face a serious disease or other significant challenges. If you have an opportunity to serve a “hero” as part of your business, here are three useful resources:

1. Homes for Heroes (for-profit side)

Homes for Heroes currently has 1,600 affiliates nationwide. ItsĀ ultimate goal is to have 5,000 active real estate agents in the program. For agents who would like to serve this segment of their community, the first step is to determine if the program for their area is available.

A key value that Homes for Heroes agents must have is an ability to put the needs of the hero first. According to Homes for Heroes National Director Abby Waltz: “It’s all about the heroes and how can we help them. While many agents think they know how to help, we train our agents to ask what the heroes want and need. Relationships trump all. We show the agents how to go to the local firehouse, police station or local schools, and show their local heroes how our services can benefit them.”

The agents who become affiliates pay $1,200 per year to belong to the program. They also agree to contribute 25 percent of their commission to the hero as a credit toward closing, provided their state allows buyer rebates. Their broker must also approve. A portion of the agents’ 5 percent commission that goes to Homes for Heroes is donated to the Homes for Heroes Foundation to help the heroes keep their home when they face a devastating crisis.

Agents who join as affiliates receive a wealth of proven marketing tools, including print marketing pieces, videos, FAQs and more. Because of the scope of the organization, members are always creating new tools and then sharing them with other members in the network.

Once a hero has closed a deal and experienced the service, they frequently become powerful advocates for their agent and the program. This, in turn, creates a steady stream of referrals for the agents in the program.

2. Homes for Heroes Foundation (nonprofit)

If you care about serving the “hero” community and your area program is already taken, the Homes for Heroes Foundation provides a different avenue for you to help the neediest members of this group.

By working with the foundation, you can integrate cause marketing into your business. For example, many agents choose to donate a percentage of their commission to the foundation, or they might organize a group fundraising project such as a motorcycle ride.

By being active in the foundation, you show your buyers and sellers that you not only care about your customers, you care about your community as well.

3. Down Payment Resource (DownPaymentResource.com)

If you want to help your heroes even further, working with DownPaymentResource.com is an excellent option. According to the DownPaymentResource.com site, there are hundreds of millions of dollars available for financial assistance through variety of local, state and federal programs:

According to the website, “These homebuyer assistance programs include down payment and closing assistance, affordable first mortgages, rehab loans, first-time homebuyer down payment assistance, plus many others.”

The site aggregates all the programs for which a particular property would qualify. Rather than trying to track this nationally, the system works by linking to the agencies that administer the programs. They maintain the current list of requirements as well as the lenders who offer the programs. To illustrate, a house I chose at random from the program displayed eight different resources for potential homebuyers who might be seeking down payment assistance.

Homebuyers can quickly determine what programs are available in their area as well as their eligibility by completing the form here. All they have to do is to answer a few questions. The system does not track identifying information, so it allows the user to stay anonymous. Once the form is completed, the user immediately learns whether he or she will qualify. The system also offers to put them in touch with a Realtor and/or lender.

If your multiple listing service has integrated this into their system, the system will display an icon on the MLS listing indicating that this particular property is available for down payment assistance. Borrowers can click on the icon to see which programs are available.

If you’re interested in serving America’s heroes, Homes for Heroes and downpaymentresource.com are two excellent sources for making your hero’s dreams of homeownership come true.

Learn about her training programs at www.RealEstateCoach.com/AgentTraining and www.RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

Email Bernice Ross.

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