Program to provide home cost breaks to participants, funds for local charities
Over 30 supporters came to a Union County Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, July 11 to help launch Homes for Heroes, a cost-savings program that aims to assist military personnel, law enforcement, firefighters, teachers, clergy and others in purchasing or selling a home. The event at the Keller-Williams offices, 6555 Old Monroe Road in Indian Trail, included Chamber and Indian Trail officials, representatives from area businesses and a number of people who serve the community in uniform.
Lieutenant Chris Griffin, a chaplain’s candidate in the NC National Guard, and wife Ashea came from their home in Waxhaw to hear about the program. Griffin serves at Army IF Headquarters in Raleigh, when on duty, while attending seminary full time from home.
“I can definitely see how this can benefit families who don’t have a lot of money for closing costs,” said Griffin, who has three children at home and is going back to school in his 40’s with his sights on a PhD.
“People who serve don’t like to ask for discounts,” said Thomas Watson, a real estate agent with Keller-Williams and coordinator for the program in zip codes covering Indian Trail, Waxhaw and Weddington. There are no additional forms to fill out according to a link on his website, tommysellscarolinahomes.com. Watson – who serves in the NC Army National Guard as a chaplain and captain, and was deployed in Iraq with his unit for about a year – said he’s seen the sacrifices people make to serve. “I’ve seen people lose jobs, lose families, lose a limb,” he said.
“Anytime we can help someone who puts their life on the line each day, that’s a good thing,” Indian Trail Mayor John Quinn commented about the program.
Area businesses join forces to offer discounted home services
Watson said Homes for Heroes serves the men and women who serve by saving closing costs for qualified home buyers and sellers. Watson is the only agent in this area authorized to offer the nation-wide program, which provides a 25 percent discount on his gross brokerage commission through the HUD 1 settlement statement document that clients get as part of closing on a home transaction.
Friends of Heroes is an extended network of businesses offering discounted home services to participants, Watson said. In addition to reduced real estate agent commissions, the savings for participants also include discounts from lenders and other home services, including inspections and painting. According to program documents, all agents and lenders are screened to participate in the program.
“People who buy or refinance under the Homes for Heroes program will save half off their mortgage origination fee,” said Todd Jackson of Fairway Mortgage in Monroe, the only authorized lender in the area. “One thing many people don’t realize is that you don’t have to be a first time home buyer to participate in this program,” Jackson said.
Jose Rivera, a sergeant in the NC National Guard who served as a patrol gunner in Iraq offers discounts for his painting services under the Friends of Heroes program. Rivera said he is glad to be part of a program that gives veterans a break.
Seth Watson wishes the program was available when he closed on a home a few months ago. Watson, not related to Tommy, serves as a chief warrant officer with the NC National Guard and estimates he could have saved over $2,000 on his closing costs. Watson said he and Rivera are in the same artillery unit and served together in Iraq.
Local charities to benefit from homes that cost over $300,000
The savings for participants can amount to several thousand dollars on their HUD 1 settlement statement. But the program only covers discounts on the first $300,000 of a home. For more expensive homes, participants designate the remaining funds to go to the charity of their choice, said Tommy Watson.
“We are working to ensure we develop a network of local charities to help keep that money here in our community,” he added.
“I think this will be a huge help to military families, especially since military compensation is at the low end of the scale,’ said Chuck Wiedenhoeft, an insurance agent with Queen City Insurance Agency, who grew up as a military dependent on US Air Force bases around the world. A member of the Chamber, Wiedenhoeft said he is talking with the NC Insurance Commission to see how his business can participate in Homes for Heroes.
Watson said he is currently working with a police officer and a veteran who will be the first to use the program in the area. He said the program doesn’t limit the number of homes bought and sold and can be used multiple times by investors who qualify.
To find out more about the Homes for Heroes program, contact Watson at 704-575-2736, or visit his website at tommysellscarolinahomes.com.