To Sean Selters, it’s “not a far stretch,” to think that he would get involved helping veterans.
Selters, a veteran from Firestone who served one tour in Iraq and spent several years as a combat medic, said that it’s only natural to want to help people with whom he identifies.
But as a mortgage lender and a veteran himself, he’s in a unique position to lend a hand to his fellow service members. And he does just that — as a founding board member and treasurer of the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals’ Denver chapter, he advocates on their behalf during one of the most stressful and consequential processes they’ll go through outside of the armed forces: buying a home.
Selters got on board with VAREP in January of this year, and said that, though he didn’t go searching for anything, an email from a friend of his was all it took to get him on board.
Since then, the organization has engaged in a number of activities to support veterans, including traveling to Washington D.C. to advocate on their behalf.
“We talk with all of our elected officials there in D.C. that we can possibly talk to in regards to veteran housing needs, what’s going on, what we’re seeing with the veteran housing issues, and try to push our elected officials into advocating for those veterans and those needs,” he said.
Selters said one of their main priorities is “putting veterans into the same status as sex, race, disability (and) religion, so that they’re not discriminated against based off of their veteran status” when it comes to housing.
And, whether with malicious intent or not, that does happen, he said, when veterans try to take advantage of Veterans Administration home loans, which can allow them to buy a house without a down payment.
“What we’re seeing in the market right now is the VA loan — a lot of real estate agents have a misconception of it,” he said. “And they advise their selling clients incorrectly… they believe that just because the veteran is putting no money down, that they’re less qualified or less likely to get to the closing table.”
Rob Bingham, the executive director and CEO of the Colorado Veterans Project, an organization that promotes and fundraisers for veteran’s causes, said that this is, in fact, the case for many veterans trying to purchase a home using a VA loan. He added that Colorado’s red-hot housing market might have something to do with it, too.
“In our market, it’s just so competitive right now,” he said. “It’s hard for anyone to get housing, and… the VA home loan just, unfortunately, puts people in that predicament because it’s so competitive. I’m sure in a different market where it’s not as competitive, the VA home loan works great.
“But when you’re head-to-head with 13 other applicants on the exact same house, unfortunately the people using the VA benefits aren’t the ones that seem the most advantageous to the seller.”
To combat this, VAREP holds quarterly classes for real estate agents that can count toward their license renewal.
“We teach them about the VA loan, the stats that it’s more likely to close than any other loan type out there, acknowledge what challenges there are in the VA loan and provide education on why those challenges aren’t really all that different than any other loan type,” he said.
Education isn’t the organization’s only focus, though. According to Board President Lucas Solano, a home lending adviser and veteran, VAREP recently helped a disabled veteran whose son has cancer furnish his new home with “beds, bunk beds for his son, couches tables, pretty much to furnish his whole house.”
And just one year into his three-year tenure, Solano said, Selters has already made a great impact.
“He’s been going a great job, and he’s done a lot of selfless service for the organization and vets,” Solano said. “We have a three year duty for the board, so this is just finishing up on our first year, and we raised over $10,000 for local vets — (we’re) looking to grow that moving forward.”
For more information on VAREP and to donate, visit tinyurl.com/y4sgrd9k.