A Financial Education Event

Receive Extra $$ Rewards & Grants as a Hero When You Buy, Sell, or Refinance

This week, to kick off our new podcast season on The Money Millhouse, we have a special interview with Joseph Kelly from Heroes Come First that share how heroes of all kinds can enjoy rewards and grants from a program that benefits Heroes at Home.

Enjoy this great information and be sure to share the following blog from our guest writer, Joseph Kelly, with a hero that you know.

Ellie Kay, Founder and CEO


You may or may not feel like it, but as a military veteran, active duty or reserve you are designated an American Hero, and that means you qualify for significant rewards you probably are not aware of when you take out a mortgage or buy or sell a house.

Most are aware that they have VA Benefits that include mortgage benefits.  And that program has some wonderful advantages.  But few are aware that there are additional benefits available that can give you an extra $2,000 to the $7,000 or more without any cost or added paperwork!

A national program called Heroes Come First defines heroes as people who serve their community. This includes active duty military personnel, veterans as well as  all current and former medical professionals (nurses, doctors, dentists, EMS, etc.), police officers, firefighters, first responders, teachers, and clergy.

Before I tell you how this reward program works please allow me to offer two key pieces of advice if you are considering buying a home in the next year that will save you from added stress and confusion.

1st Key– BEFORE you find of call a realtor and start looking at homes GET PRE-APPROVED from a trusted, reputable, recommended lender. (if you desire we offer this in all 50 states). Get your questions answered on your qualifications, credit, savings, options, etc. BEFORE starting to look at properties.  This will allow you to make adjustments if needed and be prepared to speak to real estate professionals who will have confidence in working with you.

2nd Key– Using sites like Zillow, Realtor.com, etc. are great tools to see what properties are out there however I encourage you to be VERY CAREFUL before entering your contact information on these sites.  Read the “fine print” at the bottom of the website.  These companies will sell your information to multiple lenders and realtors who then will call you and email you for months!  While some of these companies be ones you wish to consider it can be overwhelming and confusing as lenders buy your information as a “lead.” (FYI the program we are about to discuss does NOT sell or provide any information to other companies)

How the rewards work …

Buying a Home

There are several ways that the Heroes Come First program saves you time and money when you purchase a primary or second home or an investment property and get a mortgage to finance the purchase.

If you, or another hero you know, is thinking of buying in the next 12 months the most important first step is speaking to a pro-hero lender and getting “pre-approved” for your financing. The Heroes Come First team can introduce you to a participating lender who focus on heroes with both financial and added service rewards to get you on the right track for your purchase.

Benefits include:

  • You get a Lender Hero Reward of a minimum of $500 – $1000 toward closing costs.
  • Work with a pro-hero realtorand receive a portion of the realtor’s commission. For example receive $700 for every $100,000 in the sales price, which is a rebate of a quarter of the realtor’s commission. So if you were to buy a home worth $300,000, you would get a check for $2,100; if the home you buy costs $600,000, you receive $4,200.
  • You can earn a discount over usual title fees, averaging about $350, from the title companies that participate in the program.
  • You may qualify for a Purchase Grantof up to $10,000, to be used toward the down payment on a home or closing costs. This grant does not have to be repaid. 

Selling Your Home

When you sell your home, you get a break on all of the real estate fees that are usually part of the closing. The average reduction is $2,000, but it could be more for a high-priced home. The participating realtor that handles your listing rebates one quarter of their commission to you at the closing, which could amount to several thousand dollars more, depending on the price of the home.

Refinancing Your Mortgage

When you refinance your existing mortgage to get a lower rate and payment, you qualify for a Lender Hero Reward between $500 and $1,000, which is applied toward your closing costs. The lenders who participate in this program offer competitive interest rates in all 50 states, so you don’t have to compromise on settling for a higher mortgage rate to get these discounts. The participating title companies also offer discounts of up to $350 for title searches that are needed when you refinance your mortgage.

Example of Heroes Come First Savings

Real Estate Transactions:

  • Sell your home for $300,000
  • Purchase a new home for $450,000
  • Take out a $360,000 mortgage on the new home

Costs and Discounts:

Realtor’s rebate of selling commission:                                         $2,250

(25% of standard 3% commission)
Pro-Hero Realtor reward on purchase of new home:                  $3,150

(up to$700 per $100,000)

Lender discount on $360,000 mortgage:                                      $1.000

Title company discount for title settlement costs:                           $350

Total Savings: $6,750


Find out more

It really is simple to get started with the Heroes Come First program when you are in the market to buy or sell your home or refinance your mortgage. There are no restrictions, paperwork, fees, or fine print to read in order to qualify. Start the process by registering at www.HeroesComeFirst.com or call them at 800.272.5626 and they will refer you to a participating lender, title insurance companies, and realtors who serve where you live.

Know other heroes? Help them too!

The Heroes Come First program can help not only you but also other heroes you know. And if you tell other heroes in your life—like your children’s teachers, your local firefighters and police officers, or any veterans or active duty military you can be a hero to them by saving them a significant amount of money on their home transactions.

Since 1989 Joseph Kelly has brought a unique blend of technical, marketing, sales and leadership experience to the mortgage industry. As a graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in Aerospace Engineering (yes….a rocket scientist), he realized that the mortgage industry was lacking a critical component – consumer education and programs to help increase savings and reduce debt through mortgage management.

Joseph Kelly is very proud of having three sons who are veterans.  Two Army and one Navy.  Their service inspired the development of a national financial program to help all military (active, reserve and veterans) receive mortgage financing advice focused on their long term benefit, not a one time “sale” for a mortgage company.

Heroes Come First was launched to include all of our nations heroes; Military (active, reserve and veterans), current & former Firefighters, Law Enforcement, Medical & Educational professionals and is dedicated to saying “Thank You”  in a practical & financial way when they Buy, Sell or Refinance a Home. 

Being a Landlord While On Active Duty by Elizabeth Colgrove

Today’s post is by a military spouse I met through FinCon. She provides a unique perspective on what it means to own and rent property while still on active duty. Many thanks to Elizabeth Colgrove for today’s contribution. 

Is Being a Landlord While Active Duty Worth the Stress?

It is almost that time of year- the PCS (Permanent Change of Station) season. For many, that means making the decision to sell or rent their home in an already stressful time and

Ellie Kay’s active duty family moved 18 times in 20 years.

usually with very little notice. This decision is often even more difficult because being military means your next duty station could be hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

While multiple houses can add significant financial stress, it can also result in significant gain (check out our October Income Report). As an ordinary military spouse, I have been able to turn our transient nature into a second income for my family as a real estate investor.

*Note: We got started from very simple beginnings by buying a foreclosure with our VA loan and fixing it up. When we were transferred, we rented it out. We invested the income from my first job into two rentals (two investments under 100k) and then bought a new house at every duty station possible. When my husband deployed, we downsized, saving 60k and allowing us to buy another investment and personal property. The point is not to boast, but to give you the back story.

Over the years, it has felt like the financial strain and tenant stress that is involved in being a landlord has been explored in every way possible, but no one has discussed the blessing that comes from being a landlord. For us, owning houses has given us so many amazing blessings that I couldn’t imagine not owning real estate while my husband is on active duty.

Here are just a few of the positives of being a landlord:

1) You Have a Place Holder For When You Come Back

By keeping a house in a specific area, you can capitalize on the market whether it goes up or down. This way, you are not priced out of an area. For example, the house that we bought in Hanford, California in 2012 for $163,199 is now worth over $215,000. On the other hand, BAH rates have fallen in this area, while rents have increased.

Even if your house is too small for your family to move back into, you can sell it to buy another house, using the equity as a down payment. If you do not want to sell the house, you can use the cash flow from the house’s rental income to finance your next home’s down payment. That is what we have done with great success to allow us to live mortgage free, without having our houses paid off.

2) Someone Else is Paying Down Your Mortgage

The great thing about your tenant is that they are paying down the mortgage. This allows you to continue to build equity in your house even if you are not living there. As you can see, based on our October Income Report, our tenants paid down $1,633.78 over our 6 houses. This is silent pay down, as it is the loan amount that is being paid down and is in addition to the cash flow.

3) Cheaper Than Renting

We got started buying instead of renting because it was cheaper to buy than rent. With our first house in Virginia, our mortgage was $1,415 and rent was $1,700. The same thing was true at our house in California (check out all the numbers here — as you can see, we save $419 a month). This was great, because we saved money while we were living in the house. When we left, we were able to rent it for a profit. Since rent was considerably higher than our mortgage, they made great long term investments.

4) Tax Benefits

Owning a house has great tax benefits; both when you live in the house and when it becomes a rental. The great thing about keeping your house as a rental is that the IRS allows you to deduct many items from your income (rent), such as repairs, improvements, travel expenses, etc. To see a complete list, check out the IRS schedule E publication found here.

Many investors, including myself, have found that, due to the small cash flow they experience, they have a very tiny profit or even a book loss because of the depreciation that IRS allows. Depending on your tax position, this could decrease the amount you owe to taxes. This is one of the reasons that I love rental properties. There are so many awesome legal tax breaks for rental properties that don’t exist in other investment sources

5) Long-Term Asset

At the end of the day, for us, being landlords is a long-term investment. Owning real estate is a marathon, not a sprint. It is not a “get rich quick” scheme. It can (and will be) stressful, and like anything worth it, it involves a lot of ulcer-inducing moments. I love the fact that my tenants are paying off my houses. Especially the ones that I bought with very little to nothing down as investments. At the same time, they are appreciating, earning cash flow and creating tax benefits. I view that as a plus.

A Piece of Advice

Owning real estate is not for everyone, just like being an investor in stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Make no mistake — owning a house is a form of investment and should not be treated lightly. At the same time, it can be a blessing, and being active duty should not be a reason to avoid buying.

Please look at all your options, your exit plans, and your ability and willingness to be a landlord. It is not for everyone, but please do not buy because of the horror stories. While there have been families that have lost everything in real estate, there have been many more that have been successful with being a landlord while active duty.

What has been your experience being a landlord while active duty?