Joshua Potts spent his 30th birthday training to become a Marine. He enlisted later in life after stints in finance and networking, ultimately deciding standing idle while others deployed after the attacks of 9/11 was not an option.
“When I enlisted, I only planned on doing four years — it was really like a spiritual thing for me. I was at a point in my life where, you know, I wasn’t married; I’m watching the war take place on TV and something inside of me said you need to give that a shot,” he explained.
The infantry took Potts overseas four times, including combat missions in Iraq and a humanitarian mission in Haiti. He signed on to four more years while deployed, but simultaneously started thinking about what’s next. Even though his MOS didn’t have an obvious translation in the civilian sector, his background in finance did.
“I reenlisted because I was in Iraq and at that point bonuses for my MOS were so high … now at this point I owned property … as I was beginning to wind down to getting out of the Marine Corps, I ended up here in Quantico as an instructor — a non-deployable billet — and I started buying rental properties here. … I knew the housing market after the crash, I saw a lot of good opportunities.”
After eight years in the Marine Corps, Potts applied his skills to help other veterans and military families in a different way: putting them in homes.
Potts opened Spartan Realty, LLC — a Virginia-based company, after attaining his real estate license and working as a broker for another agency. He says his experience has taught him that many misconceptions surround veteran benefits like the VA home loan.
“The VA loan benefit is the most obscure thing in the military — the military does not do a good job of teaching the active duty folks about the benefit,” he said. “Post-9/11 GI Bill — you know that’s kind of easy to figure out because the university is going to walk them [service members] through it when they register for classes, but the VA loan there’s no central movement within the DoD and it’s sad because this [a home] is probably the biggest thing someone is ever going to buy.”
He added that he has been able to turn “renters into home buyers” by sharing a little bit of education about the benefit.
Some examples of the benefits of a VA guaranteed loan, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website, include:
- No down payment (*unless the lender requires it),
- Reusable, and
- VA staff assists home owners who become delinquent on loan.
[See the full list of benefits here.]
The push among those in the home-buying industry to spread awareness of the benefit may be working. A recent report shows more than three quarters of U.S. service members used the VA home loan to purchase a first home. The findings reveal an increase among first-time military buyers using the VA home loan from 30% to 78% over nine years, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s “Mortgages to First-time Homebuying Servicemembers.”
Rob Posner, CEO of NewDay USA — a national VA mortgage company, says it’s helpful for military families to have access to professionals, like Potts, who understand the unique needs of military clientele.
“Buying a first home can be overwhelming for any family,” Posner said. “In addition, military families have a whole set of unique circumstances to make the home-buying process even more challenging for them like often leaving the service member’s spouse to handle much of the move alone. Having someone from the military community who understands those challenges, like a realtor who is also a veteran, provides peace of mind for military families.”
His company works with realtors who share the common goal of putting active-duty service members and veterans who want a home into a home, he adds.
“At NewDay USA, we are also helping borrowers buy homes without having to pay closing costs, and that’s something that realtors who understand the VA lending process help us achieve. They know how to find sellers who, through a seller concession, cover the closing costs so that buyers can have more cash in their pockets after they close,” Posner said.
And Potts adds that it is a winning feeling to put families into a home.
“When I help a military family use their VA loan benefit, especially when they really didn’t know about it, and then they finally buy a house when they didn’t think they could buy a house I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything,” he said.
Visit VA Home Loans to learn more about eligibility and how to apply.Read comments