Veterans: Get homebuying help in Riverside on Saturday

Veterans: Get homebuying help Sept 19

Rosalie Murphy, The Desert Sun Published 12:45 p.m. PT Sept. 15, 2015

(Photo: Gerry Maceda/Special to The Desert Sun)

When Louis Cisneros, a Marine Corps veteran who served a year in Afghanistan, started thinking about buying a home, he began where many veterans do: the Veterans Administration. He secured a VA loan, but needed support navigating the complex homebuying process.

“I was dealing directly with the VA, and I’ll be 100 percent honest, they weren’t being very helpful,” Cisneros said. “They just gave me, ‘Hey, you’re approved, here it is, go do it.’” Plus, all his contact with the agency happened online, he said.

But then Cisneros connected with Oscar Cervantes, a fellow Marine and a real estate agent based in Redlands. Working with an agent in person — especially a fellow veteran — helped him understand his VA benefits. Cisneros is now finishing up escrow on a house in Moreno Valley.

“He put me at ease because we had a lot of the same mentality,” Cisneros said. “He was very understanding, it wasn’t this awkward conversation, it was just straightforward.”

Veterans and military families face particular hurdles when it comes to buying homes, according to the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP). The group’s mission is twofold: To educate veterans about resources and financing options, and to make sure agents and lenders know how to process those benefits.

Cervantes, an agent with Citrus Heights Properties in Redlands, is the group’s vice president.

“If, for whatever reason, veterans haven’t been able to get the assistance they need, we don’t want them falling through the cracks,” Cervantes said. “We’re what we call ‘boots on the ground.’”

On Saturday, VAREP’s Riverside chapter will host its second annual Veterans Housing Summit. Last year, around 25 veterans and military families spent the day working one-on-one with agents and banks on financial counseling and, in some cases, pre-approval of loans.

“We want to be focused on their personal problems and personal needs, and that’s what Saturday’s going to be,” Cervantes said. “I believe a lot of veterans already have knowledge of benefits available to them, but they want to know how they can take advantage of them.”

Depending on their income levels, veterans may qualify for assistance from bank, county and state programs. The Veterans Administration also offers home loans, which are government-backed and usually don’t require down payments.

The event will feature talks about the homebuying process, local housing market and VA home loans, Cervantes said. Attendees will also receive financial counseling and tour an expo of veterans’ services organizations.

Veterans and military families can register online for Saturday’s event at www.veteranshousingsummit.com. The event is free.

Real estate professionals interested in joining or learning more about VAREP can contact Oscar Cervantes, vice president of the Riverside chapter, at (951) 538-7324.

Rosalie Murphy covers real estate and business at The Desert Sun. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @rozmurph.

If you go:

When: Check-in begins at 8 a.m. and the summit runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19.

Where: Cesar Chavez Community Center, located at 2060 University Ave., Riverside, California, 92507

What to bring:

•Photo ID

•Pay stubs from the last 30 days

•Bank statements from the last two months

•W-2 forms from the last two years

•Tax returns from the last three years

•A recent 401k statement

•Copy of DD form 214, a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty

Original news link: here

USA Homeownership Foundation