A Pennsylvania Realtor® was recognized during the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the GI Bill in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.
Marilou Saar of Clarks Summit was recognized as the Realtor® who helped make the 24 millionth VA home loan transaction possible in 2019. A member of the Greater Scranton Board of Realtors®, Saar and fellow Realtor® Joni McKenna worked with Army Sgt. 1st Class William Kopf, the recipient of the loan. Kopf is an active Guard Reserve soldier who moved from Utah to northeastern Pennsylvania, with his family.
Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson delivered the keynote address during the ceremony, noting, “The GI Bill has positively impacted millions of men and women through education, medical funding and home loans. It is through this area that HUD is proud to have made such a profound impact on the lives of our nation’s veterans. And while the tremendous debt we owe to our brothers and sisters in arms may never be fully repaid, we can and will do everything in our power to leverage the GI Bill and HUD’s programs to provide affordable housing for all Americans.
National Association of Realtors® President John Smaby also took part in the ceremony and talked about one of the first homes he sold more than 40 years ago, which was purchased by a Vietnam War veteran using the VA loan program.
“As we stand here and think about what 75 years of the VA loan means to Americans, I am reminded of that very special day,” Smaby said. “It is also unbelievable what this bill does for our economy and what it means to Realtors® across the country. There is no greater day for the agents in my office than when we see a veteran come through our doors after buying a home.”
Saar, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker Town & Country Properties in Clarks Summit, said she works with VA loans, the USAA, Navy Federal Credit Union and a military relocation company in her business. She and McKenna worked together with Kopf in his home purchase.
“VA loans are a little different,” Saar said. “Some agents think they take longer, but that’s old school thinking. The VA has some restrictions in the home purchases, but they are ensuring that veterans don’t have issues with a home after they move in. They’re looking out for the buyer, which is also our job as well. It’s all about the veterans.”
“When you’re deployed, you’re not thinking about your next life steps; you’re not worried about a loan, you’re not worried about a home. You’re worried about that day’s mission and the well-being of the troops,” Kopf said. “But when you are [back home] and you’re trying to make that transition to the next part of your life, that’s where the VA comes in – and that’s where you need them the most. Knowing the VA has our back and that we can enjoy the American dream is absolutely something special, and it’s been a relief to my family.”