This upcoming Memorial Day weekend our nation again commemorates those men and women who serve or have served our nation during combat. I was privileged to start my salute early on.
Last Thursday, I had the rare opportunity to testify on behalf of our 1.1 million members in support of the Veterans Home Loan Guarantee Program.
Like you, I am a strong believer in the value of homeownership, but let me just say this particular program has special meaning for me. As the father of a soldier currently serving in Iraq, I am so very proud that the VA is there to make good on the promises our nation made to our enlisted women and men when they joined the military through this entitlement.
The VA Home Loan Guarantee Program, created under the GI bill, encourages private lenders to offer very favorable home loan terms to qualified veterans.
Today, the VA has guaranteed nearly 19 million loans to American veterans, with a total loan volume of just over one trillion dollars. Because of programs such as the VA Home Loan Guarantee Program, the homeownership rate for veterans is significantly higher than the national average – as high as 80 percent.
I had the good fortune to meet with Chairwoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) as well as the top Republican on the subcommittee Congressman John Boozman (R-Ark.). They both thanked me for the work you do! The work all REALTORS® do on behalf of veterans.
And I thanked them for their help to veterans who may have been victim to the subprime loan crisis. Listen to this, the Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2008 made changes to VA’s home loan refinancing program. Because of this Act, many veterans have been able to refinance toxic loans into safe, affordable VA loans if their non-VA loan is in distress.
I also spoke about NAR’s toolkit that promotes the VA Home Loan Guarantee Program. One if not the only informational piece of this very important topic. Last fall, the National Association of REALTORS partnered with the Veterans Affairs Department to produce “Unlocking the Future”, a VA Toolkit for REALTORS and homeowners. This comprehensive informational DVD and brochure complete with videos and Frequently Asked Questions, provides REALTORS® with all the information they need to successfully guide a veteran through the home loan process. Yea, it’s a great informational piece for the vet as well. If you don’t have this valuable tool, please go online to realtor.org.
I was heartened after my testimony to talk with a representative of the American Legion, and other veteran organizations. After hearing about our toolkit, the Legion said they want to promote our VA Toolkit by writing an article in their publications with more than 2.5 million circulation. It is times like these when you plainly see how REALTORS® make a positive difference in our communities, in people’s lives, and especially for those who serve our country in combat.
For me, I can’t think of a better way to kick-off the Memorial Day weekend than to take pride in REALTORS® support of a program that is proven to be a huge benefit to those who have so bravely served our country.
Oh by the way! When there is such a hue and cry about the concerns in government programs, this one, supported by so many REALTORS® nationwide, has proven beyond a doubt that it works and works well. The foreclosure rate in VA loans is a strikingly low 2.46 percent compared to subprime 15.5 percent and even prime loans that are a full ¾ of a percent higher than VA loan foreclosure rate. REALTORS® ARE TRULY THE “HEART OF THE MARKET”
PS Remember, men and women in the military have an additional year to take advantage of the first time home buyers credit!!– Moe Veissi, 2010 NAR First Vice President