Message from and Written by: Richard Johnson (Direction of Education VAREP Coachella Valley Chapter)
Over the years, hundreds of thousands of Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and Airman have passed through the Coachella Valley on their way to faraway places including war zones. Like all of us, many of those service people fell in love with the Valley, dreamed of coming back and now make their homes here (both full time and part time). That journey for Marines and Sailors continues today-just stop in at the Palm Springs Airport any day and you will see some of our heroes.
For their service, veterans-who include active military personal, as well as eligible family members- earned significant housing benefits-which benefits don’t expire; cannot be taken away; and can be used more than once.
Too many of those veterans, however, are unaware of those benefits, including the right to buy a home with absolutely no money down! Recent statistics highlight that lack of understanding: 95% of veterans did not receive housing information while in the service (I didn’t); 33% of veterans did not know about the VA loan program; 62% of veterans said their lenders never discussed the VA loan option (my lender brushed off my inquires); and 31% of veterans said a conventional or FHA loan was less complicated (that’s what I thought). These problems were recognized by a group of real estate professionals (all military veterans) and in 2011 they formed VAREP.
VAREP is a nation-wide non-profit organization formed by veterans for veterans dedicated to increasing sustainable homeownership, financial-literacy education, VA loan awareness, and economic opportunity for the active-military and veteran communities.
U.S. Congressman Raul Ruiz, a strong voice and a recognized long-time advocate for veterans, realized the need for VA loan awareness and spearheaded the effort to bring VAREP to the Valley. One of the first things Representative Ruiz did was to reach out to the Chamber’s very own Mickey Jumapao (of Envoy Mortgage). Mickey accepted the challenge and in 2014, the Coachella Valley chapter of VAREP hit the ground running and has never looked back. The Coachella Chapter’s goal is laser focused on carrying out the mission of the national VAREP-in other words, helping veterans achieve homeownership by de-mystifying home buying, borrowing, escrow, the seemingly endless mounds of paper works and the general real estate transaction process. If you want to talk to Mickey, she can be reached at email@example.com.
The Coachella Chapter of VAREP engages in a number of activities, both big and small, in reaching its goal, such as hosting: “Veteran Housing Summits”, which are focused on the VA Loan process (and what it takes for a veteran, or other eligible person, to own a home), introducing veterans to lenders and other real estate vendors and generally providing an array of home buying information; “Lunch and Learns”, are where we explain to Real Estate professionals the VA loan, the VA loan process, the types of property a VA loan can be used to purchase, the veterans benefits, what closing costs can and cannot be paid by a veteran and generally how a VA loan can increase a veterans ability to buy a home; and an
annual “Fund Raiser” where many professional introductions are made and enhanced. In addition, we offer educational training both in person and on-line to real estate agents, lenders, escrow and title officers and other housing professionals.
If you are an active military personnel, a veteran, an eligible family member, or if you are not sure if you are entitled, you can go to VAREP’s local chapter website VAREP.net for more information. You can also call me or any board member and we will gladly set up a one-on-one meeting with you. Our only objective is to help you. WE WANT TO TALK TO YOU!!
If you are a housing professional, such as a lender, real estate agent, title insurer, or an escrow officer, for example, contact us to learn how you can be involved in the VA loan process and positively impact another person’s life. VAREP board members will come to your office to make a presentation and the many personal and professional benefits of joining our organization or simply to introduce ourselves. We are happy to explain the VA loan process, the concerns expressed by veterans when buying a home, and the many ways you can help a veteran in the home buying process.
This year, our Housing Summit is scheduled for May 6, 2017 at the Palm Springs Air Museum, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. If the past summits are any indication this year’s event will be an overwhelming success. While we have a number of sponsors lined up for this year’s event, there are a few sponsorship spots still available. If you are a Real Estate vendor and want to be a sponsor, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Reno Berela at email@example.com for more information.
This year our Fund Raiser is a golf tournament scheduled for September 15, 2017 at the Cimarron Golf Resort, from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm. If you are interested in being a sponsor or a golfer please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or David Montgomery at email@example.com for more information.
Finally, if you are an individual or business interested in learning about the benefits of being a VAREP member or in joining VAREP please contact Scott Conway, our Membership Director. Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, there are many positive benefits from working with America’s heroes, including meeting one in person.