How real estate professionals can help first responders buy a home | SkipLeadPro

By Ashraful Islam Updated September 17, 2023 Reviewed by Ashraful Islam
Photo Credit: BiggerPockets
Photo: HousingWire

Our way of honoring first responders is by educating our podcast listeners, readers and coaching clients in the real estate industry about how to help those who helped all of us and are still being of service every day. We all owe a debt of gratitude to those who have our backs in times of need. 

One of the best ways to help first responders is to be of service yourself, as a professional real estate advisor. Listen to all of these really great mortgage programs (most agents and buyers don’t know about these!) for first responders and consider doing any or all the following: 

1. Make a video about some of the special programs available. Send it to your database, post it on your social media and submit a press release to your local media sources. 

2. Take that information and provide a Facebook Live session or a series of Facebook Lives, invite your friends and followers to learn more about these loan programs. You can split the programs up and do a weekly series. 

3. Work with a lender who specializes in first responder types of loans, FHA, VA and HUD programs and interview them for a video, Facebook live session or if you have a podcast. 

4. Submit an article to your online and offline news publications about these available programs. 

5. Create a First Responder seminar or webinar, in person or online. Present at local firehouses, police stations and more Bring your first-responder-program lender specialist with you. 

In all cases, close the video, article or session with a call to action: For more information about these and other special programs, call or text today at: enter your phone number.

Let’s take a look at some available programs to help our special first responders.  

You all know people who can benefit from these programs. What a great way to be of service yourself!  

FHA mortgage programs 

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) provides easy-to-qualify government insured loans. These loans have lower down payment requirements and more forgiving credit requirements. For example, first responders who qualify for  this plan may be able to place a minimum down payment as low as 3.5%. 

Requirements for these loans are typically: 

-Two years of stable employment, ideally at the same job. 

-Fewer than two, 30 day late payments over the past two years. 

-30% of the buyer’s gross income should be available to use towards their  mortgage payments. 

-Monthly debt payments cannot be more than 43% of income. 

Of course, other restrictions and overlays may apply. Loan requirements are fluid and we, like  you, are disclosing that we are not mortgage lenders! Ask your professional loan originator for  the details and refer your clients to someone who specializes in these programs.

Good Neighbor Next Door 

Good Neighbor Next Door is a mortgage program by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which is offered to public servants, such as first responders. This program allows qualified applicants to purchase homes in revitalized communities. 

The Good Neighbor Next Door Program allows someone who qualifies to purchase a home for 50% of the appraised value based on where the house is located. 

The HUD provides a listing of properties that you may check to find which houses and locations are available. Check for lots of details on this and tons of other great programs. They’re a little known resource for many Realtors. Be the one who’s in the know! 

Did you know that HUD has an online search where you can find homes for sale  all over the country that qualify for different special programs? You can even search for investors, first time buyers, first responders, etc. Stop relying so heavily  just on your MLS!

To qualify, the buyer must comply with HUD’s program regulations and meet  the first responder requirements. They must be employed, for example, as a full time firefighter, or an EMT, paramedic or law enforcement officer by a fire department, EMS unit or law enforcement agency, a unit of general local government or an Indian tribal government. They must be serving in the locality in which the home is located. Think of how much value you would bring when you present these programs locally to firehouses and police stations. 

VA mortgage program 

Many first responders have military experience. This service record may qualify for a Veteran Affairs (VA) loan. VA loans are not well understood by many Realtors. When you really know the benefits, you’ll be more of an advocate of these loans both on your buyer sides as well as when you’re a listing agent  considering accepting a VA loan. 

VA loans have no down payment requirement. Additionally, qualified borrowers do not need to pay for mortgage insurance, unlike with FHA mortgage plans. These features make VA loans one of the most attractive loan programs available in the  industry. 

Did you know that: In addition to first responders with previous military service, VA loans are also available for active-duty service members, qualified  spouses and other veterans. 

Your buyers can apply for a VA loan if: 

-They or their spouse served 181 days during peacetime or 90 consecutive days in  wartime. 

-They or their spouse served for six years with the National Guard or Reserves.

Other great things about VA loans: 

No Prepayment penalties, sellers can contribute to closing costs, refinancing can  happen up to 100% of the home’s value and repayment workouts if the veteran has  payment issues. 

The more you know about these special mortgage programs, the more you’ll talk about real estate and offer value. Don’t just learn about these things, get out there and present a seminar, a Facebook live session, videos, press releases and social media. Add the links to your website.

Tim and Julie Harris host a podcast for real estate professionals. Tim and Julie have been real estate coaches for more than two decades, coaching the top agents in the country through different types of markets.

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