(This is a sponsored post.)
A specialist VA lender, military-friendly real estate agent, and national home builder have teamed up to help a disabled veteran use his VA loan benefits with a government grant to build the home he had dreamed of for nearly two decades .
Real VA Loan Stories by iFreedom Direct®
John Swanson comes from a long line of military personnel. He was born in Fort MacArthur, Southern California. His grandfather was in World War II and retired as a full bird colonel. His father was a sergeant in the Korean War and his uncle was an army captain. John was determined to continue the family tradition. The Vietnam War was in full swing in 1971, and while it was more than ready to join, it was too young. Shortly before his seventeenth birthday, John entered the US Army Delayed Entry Program (DEP) to ensure active service when he was of legal age.
During an infantry training exercise, John fell 50 feet and kicked off a helicopter. The medics found nothing broken, so John was instructed to continue training under counseling. He was ordered on a 10 mile compass in shower shoes which left John’s ankle collapsing beneath him. This time the doctors found that he could not continue training. He was released under the “Undesirable Conditions” release category. ”
“My whole purpose was to serve my country, but it wasn’t my intention,” shares John. The Vietnam-era veteran had to fight for his honorable discharge, which he eventually received. In the meantime he had arrow pain and decreased mobility in his arms and legs. On another medical exam, he was diagnosed with a chronic neurological syndrome called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). John was now restricted to a wheelchair and upgraded from 60 percent to 100 percent disability.
“It was hard not to notice the wheelchair,” says Johns Treasury Secretary Terry Kaut, who he met 13 years ago in an individual club. “But John was so full of life and joy. I later found out how much pain he was in which made his prospects even more amazing, ”she added. After 10 years of dating, John and Terry decided to live together in a two-bedroom apartment near Sacramento. The only room suitable for John’s disability was the bathroom.
“I injured my kneecaps and broke several toes,” said John, referring to the narrow halls and doors in typical rental properties. “I’ve been pursuing the American Dream for a long time, but accessible homes just don’t come out that often,” explains John. “So I lived in what was available.”
John’s frustrations with housing grew hopeful when he heard of a grant managed under the VA Loan Guarantee Division. Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grants help veterans with certain service-related disabilities build or modify homes to best meet their needs. He applied for the grant in 2012 and was looking for a VA approved mortgage lender to take advantage of his VA benefits.
John applied for a loan from iFreedom Direct®, a statewide lender specializing in veteran home loans. John was later connected to Sherry Dolan, a Sacramento-based Keller Williams® real estate agent who is familiar with the VA loan process. Sherry says, “I’ve sold a lot of homes to a lot of veterans, but that has been the greatest challenge and the greatest reward.”
The first problem was the grant. It had been months and John still hadn’t heard from the VA. Debbie had a link with the Department of Veterans Affairs who reported that the records were either lost or never received. Together, Sherry and Debbie helped John reapply. Sherry hired the Sacramento Congressman’s office Doris Matsui to help speed up the second motion to make up for lost time. Within a few months, John received the fully allocated $ 67,555.
Meanwhile, Sherry went with the couple to look for a house. She saw John fight. “Terry and I were lugging around a heavy ramp just so he could go up the front stairs,” she explained. “He couldn’t go into back rooms or shabby garages.” Sherry also saw that sunken living rooms, as common in California, were a problem.
Then another problem related to the renovation emerged. John’s breathing problems required them to live in their apartment until the construction dust subsided. With John’s fixed disability income and Terri’s modest income as a registrar, they could afford rent or a mortgage. Not both.
Sherry thought of asking a builder for help. She approached several, but only one was actively interested in helping John. Lennar Homes had a new subdivision in Rancho Cordova with six model houses. The company agreed to adapt a one-story floor plan to John’s disability in accordance with SAH guidelines. Lennar® also funded the construction phase so John and Terri could continue renting until the house was completed.
The original blueprint was modified with John and Terry in mind. The specially adapted model resulted in a 1,794-square-foot house with three bedrooms, 42-inch doors, wheelchair-friendly flooring, an accessible master bathroom with a walk-in shower, a ramp garage, flat front and rear left entrances. Hand light switch and many other customer-specific details.
“The house is a unique situation for us, but the project has definitely increased our awareness and need for adaptable homes,” said Division President Gordon Jones. “We were honored to serve a veteran this way.”
Given the success of the business, the contractor welcomes the opportunity to serve other veterans. According to Lennar®, John’s home was the first custom home built by the Northern California Division with money from an SAH grant.
“With this dedicated team of professionals working together, Mr. Swanson was finally able to find a home,” said Tim Lewis, iFreedom Direct’s Customer Experience Director, a retired Army major.
John may never have had the opportunity to serve on foreign soil, but as fiancé Terry, he served from his wheelchair for years. “He’s advised GIs and others with RSD and answered a hotline for years,” says Terry. “And now, thanks to John, the way is paved for other disabled veterans to build a Lennar® home that suits their needs.”
A housewarming party took place shortly after John and Terry moved into their new home. The entire team came together to celebrate, along with many of the couple’s new neighbors and some local veterans. To honor the special occasion iFreedom Direct had a 20 ‘flagpole installed in the front yard and Tim Lewis presented John with an American flag during an emotional dedication ceremony.
(From left to right: in front of the specially adapted Lennar house, after the flag is raised, Debbie Losser, the real estate agent for Keller Williams, Sherry Dolan, the homeowner John Swanson and fiancée Terry Haut, and Dolan’s real estate partner Belinda Mills.
When asked what this house meant to him, John fought his emotions to get these words out: “It means the world. It’s hard to hold back tears when I think how everyone came together to make it possible for us. ”
Veterans with permanent and fully service-related disabilities are eligible for SAH grants. To apply, submit VA Form 26-4555 to your VA Regional Loan Center. For information on VA loans, please contact iFreedom Direct®.
iFreedom Direct®, a top VA approved lender, has been providing high quality VA loans to the brave men and women in the US since 1996. These mortgages, which are supported in part by the Department of Veteran Affairs, help eligible borrowers buy and refinance homes at competitive rates. Prequalify at www.ifreedomdirect.com or 800-230-2986.