When Rhonda Bletsh heard about the Homes for Heroes program and how it could help a young couple in Conway, she thought it might be too good to be true.
She soon found out that if followed through, she would be the first in Arkansas to participate in the program.
Bletsh said she was able to help Ryan and Alison Overbay purchase their first home using the Homes for Heroes program, which gives savings to people who “work to make communities safer and better places to live.” The program, which started in Minnesota, has reached about two-thirds of the country, according to Bletsh, but it has not been used in Arkansas yet.
“It made me do my research, that’s for sure,” Bletsh said. “It was simply a program I found by searching on the Internet, but when I looked into it and made sure it was legitimate, it became a no brainer.”
Formed in 2002 following 9/11, the Homes for Heroes program originally gave savings to people in service industries such as firefighters, emergency medical technicians and law enforcement officers when they purchased or sold a home. In the past 10 years, the definition of “hero” has expanded to more people who serve their community. The Overbays are physical and speech therapists, who are both starting their professional lives.
What the program does is provide savings on closing costs and other expenses that might hamper a first-time home buyer. The money given is a rebate of up to 25 percent of a realtor’s commission that can only be used for costs relative to the home. For those who are able to pay closing costs and other fees, they can use the program to donate to a charity of their choice.
“It’s a good feeling to give back,” Bletsh said. “Some of these people have a big struggle, and I hope that this is something we can use in the state from now on.”