G: Hi there this is Ginger Bell and I am here today with Andrew Vierra, who is a VA Home Loan Specialist. So Andrew, tell me a little bit about your company and where you’re located.
A: My company is WealthWise Mortgage Planning and we’re in Folsom, California.
G: And so you’re with WealthWise Mortgage Planning and VALoansOfCalifornia.com
A: Right. That’s our website that we built its debt to veterans and va home loan benefit.
G: So I mean, let’s talk about that because obviously, you know, one of the things that I wanted to talk to you about is, the focus of VA and the home loan opportunity. I recently had the opportunity to co-produce a documentary for Folds of Honor and Folds of Honor provides education in the way of scholarship to the families of wounded and fallen soldiers that have served. And so I have a great respect for the military, but I myself have not served. And so I always love hearing stories as to how people got involved in specializing in VA. So can you share how you became so focused on being able to serve our service members?
A: I get that question a lot because, like you, I did not serve. I have family that served, uncles who served and cousins who served. My prior career was in advertising. I was 18 years in radio and television advertising sales and learned a lot about marketing and positioning in sales. And when I got into loans in 2005, it was the wild, wild west of loans. There were so many loan products out there. And when you get in, there’s lots to learn. You hear about all these different loans, but you’re not really sure what they are.
It was kind of a fluke. The very first VA loan I did was because a Realtor said she had a veteran that needed a VA loan and asked if I knew how to do that. My first thought was holy moly, I don’t know what I’m doing with this. Then I told her no, but I will learn and I will figure it out so that we could help this veteran use the benefit.
So being fairly new, I reached out to people to ask questions, and I reached out to a wholesale rep and said, I need to do this loan for this veteran, will you hold my hand through this?” And she said yes, handed me a book and that’s as far as it went. I got no more than that.
I didn’t want to screw this up for the realtor, veteran or anybody else in the transaction. I limped my way through it and got the veteran into into their home. Once I had gotten through it, I realized that it’s like every other loan in the sense that it’s a loan. The process is the same, but there are extra moving parts.
I thought well even I couldn’t find anybody that could help me because they really didn’t know it. It didn’t come up very often, and everyone I went to told me they had a cheat sheet on their computer, but in the end they didn’t know how to do VA loans.
I had been on some training and they were talking about how you can’t do every loan if you’re on the freeway and in every car is a potential loan. They asked us Could you do all those loans? Not really, but what if you could handle all the loans just on one off ramp and specialize in something, and that clicked with me.
I thought back to what I had done here and thought this is a great loan because it helps a lot of people. I should learn more and get more in depth. I started to go that route and then the market fell apart from 2008-2011.
A: By then I was hanging on by my fingernails and doing whatever I could and I didn’t have a bunch of clientele to where I could just specialize in one loan program.
When I came out of that, I got a phone call from a lady that said that I had been influential in her career. I had something on a loan toolbox and I didn’t remember what it was. But I had answered something she had posted about how people were trying to hold her back because she decided to focus on veterans out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I had commented something like don’t let people hold you back on what you want to do.
And she said, “Andrew, this is what I’m doing now. I’m focused on veterans. I’m helping veterans almost exclusively. Why don’t you come out and see what I’m doing? In two weeks?”
So I jumped on a plane, I went to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she was at the National Association of County Veteran Service Officers Conference. I watched what she did and then it came back to a full circle.
So I started to focus and had the mentality that this is gonna be what I do.
Today, I am the state of California’s County Veteran Service Officer subject matter expert on VA home loans and I have training three times a year and I’ve been a speaker at the National Conferences.
G: Oh my gosh, wow. That’s incredible.
A: So it’s funny how it all comes about, but that’s how it started.
G: And what a great story of having an influence. You know, not having a knowledge as to who you’re having an influence on, I think begins so many journeys for people. And had she not reached out to you, to thank you for having an effect on her and then you going out and being able to find out what she was doing and building all this to be able to grow in your capacity as phenomenal.
I think that’s what people need to do as far as being open to those opportunities. Which is kind of a side conversation, not just about VA, but having that and having the knowledge to be able to go out and to be the individual in the entire state of California that can lead the training and information. It speaks so much to your knowledge and what you’ve been able to do with that.
That’s what people are looking for when they’re looking for a specialist. People want to know that they are working with somebody that knows what’s going and what they’re doing. Because VA has been around for a long time, right? How long has it been around?
A: Oh, since the forties. It was after World War II that it was created. I don’t remember the exact year, but it was created to help people get into homes after World War II.
G: Part of it, too, is that It’s one of the few loan programs that consistently provides 100% financing available for qualified veterans and those who have served, right?
A: 100%. One of the things about VA, was that there were limits to how much somebody could buy or refinance without equity in the property. So when we talk about equity, we usually use that term for a refinance, which you could do with VA. But even buying a home, you have to consider what the VA County loan limit is for buying a house without putting any money down. There were limits on how high you could go.
As of January 1st of 2020, Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act stated that if you’re active duty or you’re a veteran and you have full entitlement, meaning if you have never used the benefit before, had a foreclosure, or a short sale on a VA loan, then you can buy anything you want with no limit with no money down.
G: Okay, so no limits, 100% financing There are a few qualifications. You need to be credit worthy in order to qualify and in California, that’s huge because there definitely are some properties in California that would be above that county limit. And so jumbo loans are available, right?
A: Yes, and quite frankly so. We knew that this act was coming. I have a doctor who waited until after January 1st to buy a $1,072,000 home, no money down. He had the money because he was selling another home. He could have put money down, but the benefit allowed him to get around that.
We just closed another one in Fairfield, California last
week.And yesterday I had a call from somebody who wants to buy an Alameda County for $1.8 million and they will not have to put a payment down. They could. They’re allowed to. They could put 20% down. They could put 50% if they want, but they don’t have to, which means that they can keep that money in their bank account. They can fix up the house. They could do anything they want because there’s no down payment requirement.
G: That is amazing and a huge opportunity. That’s a recent change, and if you’re not working
This is so important, I think for real estate agents is well, if you have somebody that’s out looking at a home and maybe, they’re not sure as far as how much they qualify for. Especially in the jumbo, because we know the jumbo market has really fallen apart lately and that there’s not as many loan programs available.
So knowing that they have the opportunity for VA, number one is important and having that knowledge that you can share with them is important. Then the second thing is, finding out whether or not they’re qualified.
What should real estate agents really ask, everyone that they’re talking to, whether it’s a buyer or a seller?
A: It’s so simple for a real estate agent. You really don’t want to use the word veteran when you’re talking to people. Because there’s a lot of people who have military experience who do not consider themselves a veteran. You will ask them if they are a veteran, they will most likely say no.
When I teach classes to Realtors, I tell them to ask every person who they sit down with if they serve in the military or if they have military service. If they say yes, the next question to ask would be, “Did you know that you could use your VA home loan benefit on this house?”
And I guarantee you, at least 50% of the time they will say no, I can’t. With my experience of doing all these loans, 99 times out of 100 they will be wrong. When people tell me they can’t use it, they end up being wrong because there’s all kinds of fallacies that are missed, based on old ways it was done or things that people projected on this loan program that it’s too hard.
But for an agent, just asking the question up front is the qualifier. If they say no, we didn’t serve, then you move on. If they say yes, we serve, did you know? And when you don’t even have to know all the answers. But you mentioned the jumbo and the problems with the jumbo product are if I qualify someone under VA Jumbo versus VA Conventional, I can qualify qualify a veteran for almost 25% more purchase price under this program than I could on a conventional.
G: That’s amazing.
A: What’s very cool is in the jumbo world, the debt to income ratios are low. VA is higher so we can qualify for more that way. The conventional way you must have all kinds of money in the bank when we’re done.
G: Well, I heard Wells Fargo, if you want to do a jumbo loan, they will ask you to put a million dollars in the bank before they will even consider doing anything with you.
A: It could, depending on what it is. We have the broadness of the VA guidelines to use on the jumbo. It’s just so much easier qualifying. I mean, the foreclosure requirements, you have to be seven years out of a foreclosure in a jumbo conventional loan. We could be two years out of a foreclosure in VA and get it done.
G: I think having that knowledge is so important, Andrew. For real estate agents and consumers that are out there looking for someone who is very knowledgeable about the VA Home Loan. What it takes to get the certificate available, eligibility, all those things.
You are a certified veterans loan specialist and a certified VA instructor. So not only do you know everything that you need to about the VA, but you’re also able to teach other people.
Tell me about some of the veteran organizations that you speak at and are able to advise them on the VA home loan benefit.
A: That varies because I’ve gone to the California Army National Guard. I’ve spoken at their retirement seminars. The army reserves, I’ve spoken with their retirement seminars.
Of course, the California Association of County Veterans Service Officers and then the individual counties have brought me in to do individual trainings.
I’ve done talks for companies like Hewlett Packard to talk to their veterans organization and SMUD, which is our local electric utility here, Sacramento Municipal Utility District.
And then, of course, the real estate offices. I do trainings for them so that people can be educated because a lot of times the entry into a loan is through the real estate agent.
That’s the first foray. The more people that can be educated, the better and frankly, there’s a lot to know in this loan. I tell people all the time that a loan is a loan until it’s a specialty loan.
It’s kind of like if you drive a Tesla and something breaks, you could go over and see your Honda dealer. Well, if you’re a Tesla owner, you probably know that a Tesla is totally different than a Honda and that you need a specialist. Especially because there are more moving parts and a lot more opportunity in this loan program, so somebody who specializes in this, it really is a big deal.
Within our company – well, first of all, I’ll say that the less than 10% of the US population will ever serve in the military, and less than 10% of that 10% will ever use the VA home loan benefits. So the opportunities to actually work on a VA home loan for either an underwriter or a loan officer are very slim. They don’t come up all the time. The average VA loan that a lender or loan officer will do in a year is 1.5.
I will do 150 VA loans this year.
It’s just that when you do something over and over and over again, there’s more knowledge that you gain and less time spent wondering. Even though I have these certifications and I get to continue education and I teach classes, I find other people who are teaching classes because we all learn from each other.
I belong to this nationwide Facebook group of people who specialize in VA loans because we all help each other there. So it’s an ongoing education to stay proficient at this loan. I go to the VA lender conference every year for the last five years. This would have been the six year except you know, not that didn’t happen. But when you go to those things, I can literally pick up the phone and call somebody at the head of VA lending and get help from the government on helping with the home loan if I have a question or something.
G: Because you’ve been at this for so long, to be able to do that. I think that that’s very important. One of the things that really comes true and so apparent in having a conversation with you, Andrew, is that of a servant spirit that you have in wanting to serve and wanting to help. I think that’s something that we don’t often see.
And so I think that’s important for those of you who are watching this to be able to really know who you’re doing business with. And often times people don’t realize how much that has an impact on being able to make a difference. So I thank you for that.
I know for your business partners and for those organizations who have you come back and speak time and time again. I mean, the Hewlett Packard is a huge organization, so to be able to go in there and to deliver training and information on the VA home loan benefit is a huge honor.
Hats off to you, but I know that comes from you and who you are. And I think that’s important for people that are looking to do business with someone to know who you are doing business with and be able to know that they do serve. And even though you did not personally serve the country. I know your father served, and I think your son is serving or has served as well, right?
A: My son, my youngest son, Matt, is serving at Fort Bliss, Texas. He’s a warrant officer and he’s a Black Hawk pilot. So he started in the California Army National Guard working at the National Guard headquarters.
He deployed to Afghanistan with the California Guard, then when he came back, he decided to go the warrant officer track and finished a two year stint in Japan and is now in Fort Bliss. Very proud of him.
And my older son is also in Texas, and he’s in technology and very, very successful. But, my ties to the military started before my son actually decided that he was going to join the military for a career, and it just added to my commitment to everybody that we try and serve. And quite frankly, I feel like I could never get the word out enough to people about it.
And I tell people all the time when, especially when I’m talking to the military groups to the Realtors, it’s a little bit different to military groups. My point to them is just ask. Don’t assume that you can’t do this loan because as soon as you assume and you don’t ask the question, you don’t get it. So just ask, can I use it? And then we can tell you If you can’t use it, then you can’t.
The answer is no. If you don’t ask.
G: It’s always no, no matter what. Yeah, well, I think having that education is so important. So I’m going to wrap this up and make sure that first of all people know how to get a hold of you. And for real estate agents that are listening, how they can have you come in and just share some information for them or for companies as well that are listening.
I think it’s a great opportunity whether it’s a virtual meeting, which is a lot of what we’re doing right now to be able to let people know about the benefits. Interest rates are low. If they are on a VA, they could do a VA refinance, and you can talk about that in another video. I mean, just all those opportunities. But the first thing is asking. So I love that.
I’m going to ask you to leave with how we could get a hold of you. I want to thank you so much for your information. I truly appreciate the opportunity to sit down and chat with you.
Obviously, folds of honor is important to me. And I know you serve a lot of veterans organization, so we have some information in there on our virtual chapter that we’re starting with folds of honor that’s focused for the mortgage and real estate industry. So plus some information available on that and then also your information on how people can reach you , Andrew.
A: The easiest way you know if you forget email addresses and all that stuff VALoansOfCalifornia.com
All my contact information is there for the company itself. My company is WealthWise Mortgage planning. So when you see that and you see the two logos, you know we’re one and the same. It’s just a website where people can find me.
My email is Andrew@WealthWisemortgage.com and the phone number is 916-932-7160 and know that when you call here the team that’s here Cindy Turner, Kim Ball and Jennifer Isles. We’re all here to help everybody with exception. With the exception of Jennifer, we are all licensed loan officers and have a lot of experience. Everybody can help and we have a passion for doing this.
Even if we’re not the ones doing the loan for you, you get a deal referred to you and it’s VA and you’re the listing agent. You’re the buyer’s agent, and you don’t understand really? Call us.
We will coach you through it. And even if something comes up, you think it’s not right with your lender and feel like maybe they’re not doing something right. I can let you know if it seems right and direct you back to them.
We don’t have to be doing a loan. The biggest thing for me really is to make sure that that veteran is treated well and gets to use the benefit. And if a lender is trying to do the benefit and trying to help, that’s more than the person who is turning you away and turning you to an FHA loan that is much more expensive than doing VA. So use this as a resource. Please.
G: And there’s that servant soul I was talking about. Well, Andrew, thank you so much for joining me. For those of you who are watching, thank you so much and make sure and reach out to Andrew.
A: Thanks for having me.