When it comes to those who play a key role in protecting community and keeping it thriving, and those who teach to build the future for the next generation, the Sullivan Group of Keller Williams Wine Country Realty is committed to helping those who serve remain in the community. Julie and Morgan Sullivan, a mother-daughter Realtor team, started the Keeping Heroes Local program two years ago. An extension of Homes for Heroes, Inc., a nationwide network of affiliate real estate specialists and local business affiliate, the program offers easy ways for heroes to save when they buy, sell or refinance a home and on everyday home-related purchases.
Homes for Heroes was established shortly after 9/11 as a way to give back to firefighters, law enforcement, military (including active, reserve and veterans), health care workers, EMTs (emergency medical technicians) and teachers. The program offers easy ways for heroes to save. When Julie first learned of the program, she knew she wanted to get involved. “The program resonated with me,” says Julie. “My whole family serves—they’re cops, firefighters, teachers and nurses. It’s what Irish people do,” she adds with a laugh.
Every time a hero uses Homes for Heroes for a real estate transaction, they’re helping heroes in need, through the nonprofit component of Homes for Heroes. A portion of Homes for Heroes’ earnings is donated to the Homes for Heroes Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that provides assistance to heroes in need. “In addition to giving the heroes a 25 percent rebate, we donate another 5 percent to the Homes for Heroes Foundation,” says Morgan. When a donation is made, 100 percent of the funds are used to help heroes in need. For example, if a hero homeowner is faced with an unexpected repair such as a broken water heater, the foundation will pay to replace it. Between 2009 and 2016, nearly $430,000 has been awarded in grants. This year, $10,000 has already been awarded.
Recognizing that owning a home is especially challenging for civil servants in Sonoma County, the Sullivan team took it a step further and created Keeping Heroes Local. They’ve been visiting police stations, fire stations and schools to spread the word. “In California, no one seems to know about this benefit,” says Julie. And since the October wildfires, it’s more important than ever to keep those who serve the community local. “This program is so special to our hero groups as home prices rise in the area,” she adds. “This is one way we can help offset some expense, and hopefully help keep our police, firefighters, health-care workers and teachers in our county.
Here’s how the program works. When a local hero takes advantage of the program, a 25 percent rebate of the gross commission is returned to the hero five to seven days after closing on the home, or there is a 25 percent reduction in listing fees when selling a home. “This is money that can be used for new carpet, paint, or repairs or to deposit back into a savings account,” Julie adds. In addition, heroes may take advantage of discounted lender fees when taking out a loan as well as special discounts from other local vendors in Sonoma County.
Since establishing Keeping Heroes Local, the Sullivan team has helped nine local heroes. “We wanted to find a way to give back,” says Julie. “We’re putting money back into the community to help civil servants and teachers stay in our community.”
“We’re keeping heroes local,” adds Morgan. “We hope we can continue to spread the word and raise awareness that this benefit is available to local heroes. We can’t wait to serve more heroes and assist with their home needs.” For more information, go to KeepingHeroesLocal.com.
Currently, 15 Sonoma County businesses are also participating in Keeping Heroes Local to help support the program. Some of those businesses include:
Peoples Home Equity, Paul Olbrantz
Schultz Brothers Moving & Storage
SERVPRO of Sonoma County NE, Justin Weber
Merrill Lynch, Fernando Carrillo
Sonoma County Comfort, Brandon Garrison
Simply Solar, Ben Goldberg
DeSantas Law Group, Inc., Loralee DeSantis
Studio H Design
Bonkas Party Supply
H & R Block, Phil Sacino
Farmers Insurance, Rob Mokry
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