Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP)

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The Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals helps military personnel and veterans interested in becoming homeowners. George “G-II” Varrato II, with VAREP talks about the different programs available.

RICHARD RUELAS: Many valley military veterans and military members are looking to buy a home but need some assistance with closing costs and down payments. Joining me to talk about some program to help them with the home buying process is Gii Varrato, Arizona state director of the Veterans' Association of Real Estate Professionals. Thanks for joining me, we heard the whole store about why it's g2 in the green room but we'll save that. Let's start with what the veterans association of real estate professionals are. It sounds like real estate professionals who might have been veterans or are sympathetic to veterans' needs.

G-II VARRATO: The Arizona chapter was founded in November of 2013. Our organization actually got its birth in San Diego. A navy veteran formed this organization and our mission is to actually reach out to the veteran community and our own industry. Realtors, lenders, home inspectors, and educate the entire spectrum of vets and professionals as to how to be better stewards of the veterans' benefits. They're earned benefits and these are things that we want to make sure that industry professionals know how to present to a veteran so that he can effectively use those.

RICHARD RUELAS: When a veteran comes out of service, is there like a packet they get? How do they get to know what is available to them? Because that seems to be a gap you're trying to fill.

G-II VARRATO: That's a great question. Currently, we have in the military something called taps. It's an exit protocol that is supposed to set us up for reentry and reintegration into society. Many of us have spent maybe a tour or two at work, maybe we've spent non-work veterans, we've got veterans who have spent decades in the service and what we get for exit is four to eight hours of reintegration experience from a classroom. We're hoping to bring a little more light to that. We've been in Washington, D.C. We've met with members of Congress. They're fully aware of this and they've begun to take steps to enhance this reintegration process.

RICHARD RUELAS: This four to eight classroom setting, not individualized so I'm hearing about a lot of programs that might not apply to me in sort of a droning lecture session.

G-II VARRATO: Absolutely.

RICHARD RUELAS: So what do you do when a veteran comes to you saying I need to buy a home? I guess that's even a challenge. You have to let the veterans know that there is programs available to help veterans buy homes.

G-II VARRATO: Well, initially and first and front, we have to get them financially sound. They have to understand what it means to be financially literate. Many of us when we enlisted, we were kids out of high school and we got our first paycheck and we were spending them left, right and center. So we want to train our veterans as they get out to be better stewards of their finances so that they can then be prepared to become home-owners and then the next step is for us to educate them on the benefits that are available to them and then educate them further as to how to actually keep those homes and not lose them.

RICHARD RUELAS: But there is some nice benefits they've earned. What do those entail? What does a veteran get to help them into a home?

G-II VARRATO: So the big piece is the veterans' benefit to purchase a home using the V.A. loan with no money down. Now, industry professionals, many of them understand that that benefit is out there but there's a segment of society that doesn't understand the V.A. buyer and is fearful of a V.A. loan. A V.A. buyer trying to take advantage of his V.A. benefits.

RICHARD RUELAS: Because they fear getting caught up in bureaucracy?

G-II VARRATO: It's a very bureaucratic process and that it will stall their ability to exit their home. So our process is to educate home-owners, educate the realtors, educate the lenders as to how to be better stewards and present these opportunities to the veterans to the home seller and we're starting to make great progress in that.

RICHARD RUELAS: How do you reach out to the veterans? Besides appearing on shows like this, how do you let veterans know you're there?

G-II VARRATO: Twice a year or excuse me we had our second annual veterans summit that was hosted by the Sheraton in downtown Phoenix and we did one last year, our first one. We reach out through the media to the veterans to let them know this educational process is going to be available to them. They did. We had over 100 veterans at this year's summit and from that we are already seeing veterans become home-owners. They're going through the process, they're working with lenders that we had on site.

RICHARD RUELAS: And if somebody needs to get a hold of you is there a website?

G-II VARRATO: The website is www.varep.net.

RICHARD RUELAS: On your shirt, easy to see. Put varep.net. Thanks for sharing your information with us.

G-II VARRATO: You bet. Thank you.

George "G-II" Varrato II

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