How To Make it Happen: Achieving Financial Goals for Veterans Live

>>CINDY WALDRON: Achieving financial goals for veterans. My name is Cindy Waldron. I’m the Vice President of research and analytics for housing solutions and insights at Freddie Mac. Freddie Mac is a publicly traded company chartered by Congress to make homeownership and rental housing more assessable for affordable for Americans We make mortgage capital available by purchasing mortgage loans from lenders, so they in turn can provide more loans to qualified borrowers Our mission is to provide liquidity, stability and affordability to the US housing market and all economic conditions extends to all communities from coast-to-coast With the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen unprecedented economic hardship for many including veterans and military families who are struggling to make their rent or mortgage payments. Our partnership with Easterseals provides financial education and awareness to obtain and sustain homeownership along with the ability to remain proactive and informed financial decisions for bringing clarity and competence to help veterans and military families navigate financial decisions, challenges and opportunities Today I’m pleased to have Lorig Armenian — she works with leadership to tell the company’s story and promote corporate reputation, foster employee engagement and drive cultural change, she also has been an executive sponsor for the veterans employee group at Freddie Mac and is a military spouse. Lorig, thank you for participating today. I’m really excited to have you and hear the panel discuss financial strategies to help veterans and military families. With that I will pass it over to you >>LORIG ARMENIAN: Thank you Cindy. I’m happy to be here with all of you. It is the day after Veterans Day. It is the day that we typically celebrate the tremendous service of our service members and of their families and I am an Army wife. And my husband retired a couple of years ago so this program is very near and dear to my heart. We have a program that is constructed and dedicated specifically to cater to the housing related matters that are particular interest to our veteran community. And there are many. Just to share a little bit about the flow of today’s webinar, I will be asking our esteemed panelist some questions that we hear often at Freddie Mac, frequently encountered questions and in addition to that, there will be plenty of time for you all to ask your questions and for that you should look at the YouTube chat box and that’s where you will be entering them. We will make sure we have time to get as many of those in as we possibly can Let me introduce with great pleasure our experts. Tim Stroud and David Ramirez, Tim is a veteran initiative coordinator making a great impact with Easterseals Greater Houston. Tim shares routinely financial and housing education for the nation with veterans and veteran families and other military families So thrilled to have Tim on the panel today. Tim? >>TIM STROUD: I’m thrilled to be here Happy birthday week all my double dogs and happy Veterans Day. To all of those who have served. It will be a great event. Buckle up. It will be fun and if you’re not ready, I’m going to give you a verbal dose of caffeine with some great information >>LORIG ARMENIAN: I’m sure you will. And David, David Ramirez is the homeownership and credit program manager with Soldier on. Soldier on is a nonprofit organization providing homeless veterans with transitional housing and other supportive services Soldier On collaborates with Freddie Mac to provide financial education to the community using our Freddie Mac CreditSmart curriculum David, thank you for being here as well >>DAVID RAMIREZ: Thank you for having me and thank you to all that serve and continue to serve It’s a pleasure and we will have a great event and Tim — I need some of that caffeine and it’s a pleasure to work with you >>LORIG ARMENIAN: Let’s get started, shall we? First with some level setting. Veterans and the families face unique situations while in service. PCS, every 3 years, starting over

New schools, new doctors, new community Tell us Tim, about how military life impacts veterans’ housing experience in a way that is perhaps unique than other parts of population >>TIM STROUD: As you know as a military spouse and a family member, serving in the military has its rewards but it also comes at a cost Sometimes that is time that you are taking away from your family. And the reciprocal of that, the other side of the coin is you get tons of benefits. Which are absolutely amazing We are going to look at some acronyms today like basic allowance for housing — BAH and COLA cost allowance for living. Amazing things that you get along your journey in the military. It is really difficult on some of our family members, and I bring — I breathe a sigh of relief because when I see my transitioning veterans, I just welcome them with open arms because I know firsthand what they have gone through. You have moved to after boot camp and AIT if you are no Army you go to your first duty station and are like yes, and you set up shop. If you’re not living on post, you get your basic allowance for housing. You go off post and find a place to either purchase or to rent for the next 2 to 3 years. Depending on your branch of service your MOS and your specialty and how long you’re going to be in that area So you start to have kids and you’re doing all the right things and you’re supporting your spouse Sometimes you’re the female spouse and sometimes the male spouse or sometimes they’re both serving together. And you are being a great family unit doing those things but say one spouse is in the military and typically that’s the way it happens The other spouse is a teacher. Say the female Marine and she’s doing everything great. You get stationed another place and her husband is an English teacher and he has all of these amazing awards and everybody wants to be in Mr. Johnson’s English class. They love this guy. He brings all of the fun and all the facts and dresses up from time to time. Weird for high school but people love him! They decide to transition and they are going to do an element over in El Paso with the Army and then what? Not a lot of Marines there so they sent him over there and what about the spouse? She can’t teach English there, they need Spanish teachers and I belabor the point but is so important because now we really need to work with our spouses on their finances, their vocations, their portable job careers as they transition out because 9 times out of 10, it is the military spouse that is handling the finances and she or he really needs to know specifically what benefits are available to them. Not only from Easterseals, Freddie Mac, Soldier On and, the VA and thousands of others that we are going to plug them into resources >>LORIG ARMENIAN: Thank you for that background. Clearly you have lived and breathed this experience and I’m really glad that you bring up that point about the spouses because often you are in this day and age when it takes 2 incomes to make ends meet It is really difficult — the military lifestyle constantly moving around is difficult for the spouse to hold a stable career. And build wealth that way. So I think the military families have a particularly unique need when it comes to wealth creation and wealth building and hence housing is tied to that. David, let’s dig a little deeper on this issue Given unique experiences of veterans, can you help our listeners understand how it is that homelessness has become such an acute issue in the veteran community? >>DAVID RAMIREZ: Great question and Tim thank you for your insight but I think I will echo a lot of your statements and talk about transition from my perspective in working with veterans who are homeless every day. One of the things for any veteran community to answer a question — it’s alarming this is a battle that we continually fight for years already One of the things that we know whether veterans is that is the journey home making the transition Of a country that they protect and served and defended. So when we talk about what

challenges are those when you’re departing from the services, the first thing is, Tim said something the husband is always away from home and they look work long hours, abnormal hours and things that are not normal in the civilian world. Coming back to adjusting and being away from home for months at a time is an adjustment itself so imagine retiring and going into — working in the civilian world but that’s one of the adjustments. The other key thing with the challenges, for us and we are aware is a veteran community is that you have to find out where you are going to live for being in the military you always had shelter and clothing and food so that’s another thing and you’re like, they don’t provide that for me anymore There are things that start to occur, lack of education on savings and budgeting as Tim conveyed. Finances may be controlled by the wife back home who was trying to figure it out in the household. Having kids go to school while their husband is away. There’s plenty of challenges but now we’re going into the real world where you have to pay medical bills now. When I was in the military, all my medical was paid for. Think about all of the stress that starts piling and piling And the most important thing with the challenges going into the civilian world for any military member getting out and that I speak with veterans that are homeless, they are not aware they have a physical disability related to the service. This might not occur 4 years later So you imagine one of the things that is troubling when I think about the people, veterans or civilians that are homeless, it upsets me to think that so many veterans are committing suicide and if housing maybe contributed to that so that’s upsetting to me so my message here is we have the ability of forums like today to promote awareness about all the great resources that our veterans, not only veterans but civilians can gain so we can prevent this ongoing battle that we see Again, right now with this forum, share the resources that we get after this, and have a conversation. There’s nothing taboo talking about finances or things like that but if you want to be part of the proactive approach, talk about it >>LORIG ARMENIAN: Thank you David for sharing that. It is heartbreaking and nobody knows other than you and we have to do better. On this front. Talking about hardship, COVID, nobody ever imagined that it would pan out the way it has. So much hardship that Cindy mentioned at the top of the hour Tim, can you talk a little bit about what you are seeing out there in the work that you do with Easterseals in the greater Houston area? Trends, what stories you are hearing and if you can share a little bit about that what it looks like? >>TIM STROUD: Absolutely, let me make sure — that 6 feet right there (holds measuring tape) so it’s safe… I say that in kidding because in the military we laugh about things that people in the civilian world would be like did he really laught about that? Yes, that stuff is funny But with COVID I know it is serious and from a former combat medic standpoint it’s transmitted similar to the flu that when a virus gets in and it turns your body against you and that’s not the big issue. That’s part of it. The other part is the fear that we are living in. It has changed the way we live and more germane to the housing market, it has changed the way that the economy rises and falls. I wish some of you that are on the call right now could have seen what we were talking about in the green room before everything started. We were talking about World War I veterans and World War II, the greatest generation and David was remarking on it would be great to record more of those stories. From the men and women that served because when they came back from those deployments within 3 years, millions of homes popped right out of the ground. There weren’t that many realtors as they were back then. In the city of Houston there are over 30,000 licensed realtors. Holy smokes, that’s a lot. Because the housing market is booming. Go back then, it was so much simpler to purchase a home and let’s address the issues without muddying the waters but it was easier for some people to get certain loans for housing then it was others. Thankfully, as a nation, we have taken great strides to ensure

that everybody, every American and all of our immigrants are able to purchase great homes. Back to our veterans we want to make sure that they are utilizing — elected leaders did come together with the CARES Act to make sure there were certain resources that are there I will talk a little bit more as we dive in deeper but one of the options that is there for our veterans is forbearance. I have had 3 veterans that right after COVID started, lost their jobs 2 in oil and one in gas but these guys were making upwards of $200,000 a year. $200,000, what problems do they have? More money more problems but and it’s a principle that we live in in the United States and indicative of other countries but more so with United States You start here and here is your salary. You’re like, I get a little raise. I’m going to spend more on a car — called Parkinson’s principle — like your time as well. We are not good stewards of either of those from time to time so a little bit of planning goes a long way. But one of the gentlemen that came to us he simply didn’t have the budget in place and bought more toys and tools than he did resources that would help them out I can tell you right now in a down economy, you cannot eat bricks. So even though he had a large portion of his house paid off, he couldn’t take a loan against it but he didn’t have a job and his wife was home, stay-at-home raising the 3 kids and doing a great job but now she took a part-time job while he was looking as well. They really pulled down on their finances but it had a paradigm shift with her family. A lot of stress That’s the other part of how Easterseals comes in, we get certain financing to help our veterans go through the mental health counseling and their family members. Anybody who is designated by them as a family member, we can talk with confidence and help them through as well do the financial planning and the housing financial support Because some they get from the government and others through the community and we will share a few of those resources through everybody today >>LORIG ARMENIAN: Speaking of resources, if someone is living on that edge, for example I have a good friend, a defense contractor and a veteran and now defense contractor. His day job is actually in a SCIF but because of COVID he can’t go in. So he can’t telework and there are children stuck at home. No school and somebody has to take care of them. So he’s been furloughed He is concerned about becoming one of those homeless veterans David, what resources could you point my friend to? Someone in their position? >>DAVID RAMIREZ: That’s a great question but there are resources for veterans and civilians alike and one thing I would tell anyone first of all, what I say with a lot of our veterans, they want to validate a lot of information. It’s hard for them to find a trusted resource so we have everything at the palm of our fingers and if you utilize your phone or blackberry and educate yourself about one thing working with Freddie Mac, that’s a great resource when you want to try to find the trusted partnerships and one thing I always tell everybody with my experience with working with veterans and civilians alike — find someone at a HUD-certified nonprofit agency and — if everybody — if someone is asking you for money to reconcile your situation, that’s a red flag Do not give anybody — any money out. Educate yourself and use a lot of resources that will be giving out today. Make sure it’s a nonprofit entity but specifically with veterans I wanted to convey this, there are — my group is out of Massachusetts and we serve 4 states of the United States. So that being said, there is a thing called SSVF and that’s keeping that every — a key thing every veteran should know. Know about SSVF — look on Google and see what local state entity that accepts those funds because there are able to provide resources like we do at Soldier On where we provide counseling, budget, how to budget and maybe you’re anticipating a foreclosure but we go to those SSVF funding that were in in the other situation we may have someone going through rental eviction and the funds will help support that situation for the veteran

>>LORIG ARMENIAN: That is fantastic and these resources – we will try to get those out in your chat function. As you see in front of your screens. Help us if you would David – unpack some of the mortgage industry jargon that people might run into in the process of talking with a counselor or even calling their lender to say I’m in financial distress. I can’t pay my mortgage. I’ve been hearing things like forbearance and loan forgiveness. What are these things? Can you unpack any of that for us? >>DAVID RAMIREZ: That’s a great question and I can definitely do that but again I like to keep things simple. What I mean by that is we have to have a conversation that may be taboo for a lot of people. They don’t like talking about finances When we start talking about jargon I will want to understand the situation. What I try to do with our veterans specifically, there’s a lot of HUD-certified nonprofits that I — they can assist anybody in a situation like this but you are going to an expert who is not working for the lender So again, seek those resources that have SSVF or HUD-certified that can help you through those situations like a foreclosure and to understand the jargon – they will help you and it’s no cost and it helps you educate you. One of things that I would see in my experience and I wanted to point this out because when somebody is dealing with a lot of this financial hardship, the walls are coming down. Imagine all the stress We don’t want — nobody wants to know that you are 6 months behind on your mortgage. Or you’re suffering with your budget. We all want to paint a picture, there’s a lot of private… the goes into it but the more you ignore it the problem continues so again, talk to somebody (If you) don’t talk to somebody in your circle but that’s why we have these nonprofit agencies we can talk to somebody that can help you and guide you. That would be my response for that >>LORIG ARMENIAN: One more follow-up for you David. What about renters — we talked about homeowners in distress not paying the mortgage but resources for renters – are they out there for them? >>DAVID RAMIREZ: Yes, great question. I would say the same thing just like homeowners. The more you understand who owns the apartment building, is going to be the best way to handle the situation because you have to get that information. Then second whether you are a civilian or a veteran, if you’re going through services that cost money, don’t do it. Educate yourself and a great resource that we will share after online like My Home with Freddie Mac. You can go HUD.gov or Easterseals That is a starting point for any entity that is not going to charge you a penny. Start there and it gives you the valid information The other thing for the renters, same thing I will convey this again. SSVF. Google it, who in your state will accept that because if you are facing an eviction and renter is going through this, there are programs due to Covid-19 that are going to help assist with rent payment — rent payment assistance and other things that we can help our veterans with is that — this causes a lot of stress not only for you but the family There’s also services for counseling that they may need… Maybe SSVF has other opportunities where with COVID right now, we may need to change a way that we are looking at things. Maybe a job change. SSVF in it… can help you look for new job and they can help you file for a VA claim >>LORIG ARMENIAN: Thank you. I don’t know about you but I’m ready to pivot from the pandemic for a moment >>TIM STROUD: I want to dovetail on what David said. David was talking about some very important things about budgeting and what is coming in and going out. And maybe doing a shift yourself and figuring out a different vocation is worth — this is where the fun stuff comes in and you get to use your imagination and perseverance that you had in the military. And you’re like what are you talking about? I have buddies of mine that started drone businesses and these guys are great at playing video games. I have 2 of them now and one has his FAA license and doing some great things. Thousands of dollars per week working with different realtors and taking pictures and videos and stuff like that and the other guy is teaching the classes Stuff that didn’t exist a couple of years ago. I’m absolutely loving it and I just got a call — off a call with SBA so there additional resources to bring in a side gig

if you don’t even need it now and one of the things that my grandfather taught me and hopefully you had one of these as well is dig the well before you’re thirsty That means figure out what your passion is in what you want to do and put in and with those budgets, there are some scary things there if you don’t address them. Forbearance what Lorig and David were talking about, where the US government has stepped in through the CARES Act and put billions of dollars into this especially and a lot of those curtailed to help out veterans and it states that for the first hundred 80 days you can restructure your loan. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay it back. Uncle Sam has got me. No he is helping you out. But what is going to happen, you have to connect with your mortgage person Dig the well before you’re thirsty and know your mortgage percent…you don’t want to call them like David is 5 months behind or 6 months behind but no structure it early and it doesn’t mean it is automatically going to go to the back end of that loan. In your traditional… those are 30-year and 15-year no matter if you’re using Freddie Mac, VA, FHA or traditional…you have options but you have to know which route is going to be best for you after talking to one of those professionals. So there is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not a train. But you do have to seek out that light. Lorig? >>DAVID RAMIREZ: You bring up a great point I’m going to go back on (this)… I was with the mortgage industry for over 17 years on a national level working with civilians across the nation In financial hardships. The reason I say this is that you bring up a good point. Start having the conversations with the lender. Most people have this stigma or myth that they are out to get my home – but they don’t want your home. They are there servicing your loan and that’s the last thing they want to do is put you out on the street. So have that conversation and get with the default team modification team and view your options and again the services that we are providing today, with Easterseals you can review the options with Easterseals before you call back your lender and tell them what they conveyed you. We are here to help and assist I want — you bring up a great point. The more you ignore it, the bigger problem you get >>TIM STROUD: It’s a great time if you have been diligent with your finances to be poised for things because what is going to happen now is like a tornado. I grew up in Missouri and bear with me When the warm humid air collides with the cold dry air, the dense cold air is pushed over the warm air and the warm air goes up and when it comes up, that’s when the tornado happens. I’m giving you that analogy because it’s already started, COVID pandemic is the warm air rising. The real damage is when it touches the ground. We are getting to the end of the first round of forbearance and what is going to happen people don’t know They don’t want to pay it all in a lump sum that — when it’s over but people quickly realize we don’t have the resources to stay in this home if they purchased it. What is going to happen? Look at the housing market as well When everything happened in March and April and everything was really moving forward with the pandemic, there were no new houses being built. So basically new construction came to a screeching halt – the people that were looking at relocating were like Sally, I think we are going to stay. Frank, I think we will So they stayed in their homes and it was not all the market — it wasn’t on the market This is simply broken down into the concept supply versus demand — basic concept. The supply went down a demand went up and so they could charge more and so the feds stepped in and said we will help out just a little bit, lower the interest rate. Great for those who are poised to take advantage of it. Less than 3 percent are you kidding me? 2.75, heck yes let’s go by something. If you’re ready. Think — I think that is what Lorig was getting to >>LORIG ARMENIAN: I was going to shift from the pandemic to the journey to homeownership. Tim, can you touch briefly like you started on the various VA and non-VA financing options for somebody who wants to embark on that journey? >>TIM STROUD: Let’s talk first about the VA because it is one of the great loans that are out there. There’s no down payment for those who qualify for it. There’s a low settlement cost. We are talking about very competitive below market interest rates. No mortgage interest. It is not really too difficult to get one if you have served honorably and transitioned out. I say that because

there’s not a credit score from the VA you have to have. But you do need to qualify with a mortgage lender whether it’s a whatever route you take Somebody will back that and you do have to have a certain credit score. It is fluctuated this year due to COVID so make sure you are talking to an industry professional in your area. You can use the fancy apps and I won’t name any of them today But there are ones that you can use for one percent. The traditional real estate model is where it is currently at 2020. They charge 3 percent and I some work charging 4 but they’re getting 3 percent for finding you the right home and helping you get connection with the financing And the other part of it is the mortgage person. If you’re going with a traditional mortgage lender, they’re going to make the person who sells that loan or secures it for you – they will make one percent. The reason I’m telling you this, follow the money. You are paying somebody to help you in that process but you need to make sure that industry professional is just that somebody who just passed the state exam, your realtor or maybe they have got their mortgage license, may not be the best fit for you. If they are hungry and paired in a mentor-mentee program, absolutely step on the skinny petal on the right-hand side of the car and move forward with quickness. But if they don’t have industry knowledge, don’t get into a 15 or 30 year mistake because just because you qualify for a loan, doesn’t mean you should get that loan. Let’s talk about that. That doesn’t mean that I’m saying, tap the brakes. I’m saying it’s amazing what you learn from of Vanilla Ice – he said stop, collaborate and listen. So, stop and talk to your industry professionals, get them in a room together and do Zoom call with the title person, the insurance person, the realtor and mortgage and say here’s what I want. I’m looking for a home, this area and it is Sally and Frank and they have 2 kids, one on the away. Looking for the right school system and they want to stay near the job and don’t want to go through too much traffic And they want an area with low crime. They will check the dog watch places to make sure there are no creepers around that have registered in their neighborhood. So doing all the right things and then they’re going to look at the all-important budget. When we sit down with them, we start with the basics. Let’s get the personal budget there And take it up one and we will get 50, 30, 20 100 percent of all their bills guess what should fit in the 50 percent. People are like what? Yes, the 2-income family should be able to live on half their budget. That is for all of the real bills. The 30 percent is all the fun stuff that you think you really want to do. Eating out, going to Uber Eats instead of cooking biscuits in the oven. Instead of cooking at home you are like I’m going out — you can do it as long as it’s in your budget, the 20 percent is paying down your debt and investing making sure you have insurance but if you follow those guidelines and those are industry wide and not specific to Easterseals, which fit into those, then take the step forward and let’s look at some financing options. Could be the VA, FHA or Freddie Mac or a different system that you have out there. But guess what? You may not qualify for any of those But you’re going to need a cosigner just like on a car, you can get a cosigner on a house Be careful. Because if you’re not married to that person or blood related, once you sign on the dotted line, you have a 30-year agreement with those people. Whoever you signed with. I sold my house in March right before, when COVID was hitting and I kind of saw my crystal ball what was going on and I got a smoking hot deal on my house and I sold it for a great profit The family that purchased it had some financial issues. They went from 2 to 3 and they had 4 people on that contract. They made it work and it’s a nice sized house If you don’t qualify by yourself, you may be able to do that but remember though that these are the same people you’re going to share your kitchen and your bathroom with for the next decade at least figuring all that out. My challenge to you is, do your homework. The purpose for me being here is to light that fire under you. You can be somebody who owns a house

If you served in the military especially if you live in Texas you should own a piece of Texas, you can go to the Veterans Land Board and choose land that’s not up from grabs from anybody else but you have to have a little money or great credit David is going to echo everything I’m talking about because you need to protect your credit Like it’s a football. If you have never played football imagine you went to the refrigerator and grabbed a dozen eggs. You better protect those eggs. Because when you crack one of those eggs, guess what happens? Your credit score is going sour, south very quickly. And the quickest way to ruin your credit is by not paying attention Without using your smart phones and checking your credit. If you go to a traditional bank, or a credit union, they’re going to monitor your credit score. If you miss any payments whatsoever, on a structured loan, guess what? It drops so have to stay on top of that and — if your spouse or family member that have multiple incomes in your house or in your purview, make sure you’re having those good conversations. The last thing you want to hear from your spouse at Christmas is, I think we are going to go to grandma’s house, over the mountain and through the woods. And you’re like no, remember the Jimmy Choo shoes that I really wanted? Those are $350. What? You spent $350 on a pair of shoes you have never worn because we don’t go out during COVID? I wanted to feel pretty Who doesn’t want to feel pretty? At the same time, go back to the budget, is it in there and are you monitoring what is going on? It doesn’t mean that you have to have delayed gratification on everything in your life. We can be so excited about moving into your home and doing those things but I kind of got off onto a tangent. Did I answer your question? >>LORIG ARMENIAN: What I’m hearing from you is you have to do your research And so my question is, should everybody be jumping into the pool? We can buy at low interest rates, you can buy more house right? Is it for everyone? >>TIM STROUD: Yes and no, so one size fits most. Why? Why are you buying? If you’re buying because you’re going to be in that home for at least another 10 years, and you’re going to take advantage of those great rates and you sat down and looked at your family budget and talk to a professional, absolutely Take steps forward and do it and have a blast with it. But if you’re looking at an investment right now. I would say tap the brakes. Because I’m not sure what the market is going to do in the next 6 months. Proceed with caution. If you get that amazing deal on a piece of property, land, building or both together take a look at it and talk to another professional and go through it. I’m hesitant of people just going out and getting too much house because the rates are lower right now. We saw what happened in 2007 or 2008 when everybody could get a loan. No doc loans — there were loans that you just go in and sign your name. You didn’t have to prove anything. They would just charge half a point or a point higher… >>DAVID RAMIREZ: I think you had to prove you had heartbeat, that’s all >>TIM STROUD: You are exactly right and what happened to the housing market? It shifted and dropped. It was the lowest ever and people lost their homes, their jobs >>LORIG ARMENIAN: Which is exactly where I was going. So Tim I just want to make sure that Freddie Mac of course we are here to support homeownership in the country, but we want people in homes that they can afford and they can keep Because it is not good for anybody if that is not sustainable. And nobody knows this better than David. David anything you want to add to the conversation around whether it’s for… >>DAVID RAMIREZ: I would just like to add this, Tim – great job, you put a lot of inside perspective of what is going out there in the real world. One thing I heard from you is do your homework you talk about real estate agents and I saw the lightbulb go off and I had the experience as a real estate agent myself for quite a few years but working with young professionals They get into it and really don’t advocate for the client. And you hear stories where they’re

working with the lender and get an incentive because they’re trying to sell a certain model that has been sitting there for 2 months or so So again somebody has to be advocating for you and if you don’t feel that, then discontinue the relationship is what I would say. Another thing you spoke about, that we teach our veterans time and time again and not just our veterans but our young youth – needs versus wants. That’s a key thing. What troubles me today and what I do in my own personal time and Tim echoed this, you can have conversations with your family. And youth don’t really understand how much mortgage payment is today. You can ask a 15-year-old and they will say is 2000? 800? It is scary to think that they’re going to be in the world in a few years And they don’t have any sense of how the real world works but that’s the reality we live in I’m just echoing some of the statements and making sure we continue to educate the others Anybody possible and talk about a budget Talk about finances. It’s not taboo Tim also said something else I wanted to echo and we are going to the last part of the hour One of the challenges I forgot to talk about in transitioning is applying your military experience to the real world. A lot of our veterans have a hard time with that and it sometimes can get discouraging but they need to understand that look, you picked up, even though you were an infantry man, and you come out in the real world, you had leadership, you manage people and those are things you need to remember, what great things they did for the country when they come home they — there opportunities and we have the resources for them Such as Easterseals, Soldier On, and Freddie Mac, that’s continuing educating. The other thing I wanted to talk about when we talk about refinancing, the low interest rates. This is one thing I have seen a lot and Tim you said it’s yes or no, right? What is the situation for the home? And meaning the home, are you a young family? Are you going to be there for 10 years? We have to talk about these things and if you don’t have a personal realtor or somebody or somebody looking over your finances and they’re not advocating for you so remember what are your goals? At the end I have veterans that come up to me and say these rates are dropping I want to refi — refinance When did you get your home? 2 years ago so you want to reset the terms — are you really saving money the last 2 years — I guess you threw your money away because now they’re going to give you closing costs of things like that so stop and think about the numbers and if you need help with that, call us. There are plenty of resources out there. I will end with that and look at your situation…the goals and where you are going to be and every situation will be different >>TIM STROUD: David, you’re talking about the purchase of homes and one of the things with a lot of veterans, as we get into an aging group of veterans from Vietnam and Korea and World War II, they need modification on their homes to make sure that the driveway has a ramp so they can get up and down, the doors widened inside and out to take care of these. The VA has benefits – whether you have a VA loan or not, those benefits are available and there are tons of resources that we have connected through Easterseals or local The best thing you can do is Google it or wherever you’re watching this right now, there’s tons of resources listed. They may be connected to your local VFW, American Legion, disabled American veteran chapter or through your city that has a local veterans chapter that is under the city heading that can direct you to grants to get that stuff done. Just because you saved up all your pennies doesn’t mean you have to spend them all. You have a grateful nation that wants to thank you for your service, it’s not charity. They have the funds and before you spend it check to see if it is there >>LORIG ARMENIAN: Thank you for bringing that up Several resources – many resources are out there And it’s a matter of doing the research again I want to remind folks who are listening to go ahead and put any questions you might have into the YouTube chat and we will work them into the conversation and in the meantime, Tim I want to ask about something I think is very important as well. When there are times of crisis that we are in – back to COVID – we also see a rise in scams We don’t want any of our listeners or anyone frankly getting caught up in a scam. Can you share a little bit about the resources available to protect the credit and what people should be watching out for and avoiding scams? We mentioned anytime

somebody wants to take your money, that’s a red flag. But tell us more about that >>TIM STROUD: I was actually talking to a veteran, an older veteran at an event yesterday Right outside of Houston. We are blessed to have smaller communities in the suburbs that still have their Veterans Day. COVID conditions all around, making sure they’re safe They came up to me and said Tim, I never thought it would happen to me. He and his wife had talked about finances and everything that was going on. They too felt the pinch during the last 7 to 8 months and his wife got a call and she’s an educated woman, used to be a schoolteacher She got the call from a scammer and they simply said, I’m not sure if you’re aware but all of our veterans are getting an additional $1,600 for COVID related relief. All I need to do is get your information. She said I don’t want to give it over though phone — he said that’s OK, I totally understand. I will mail the checkout but we are going to put you — there are 5 tiers and she was telling me this and crying and my heart went out to her. She said, Tim, he said there were 5 tiers and they would simply put us at the fifth tier if they didn’t run out of money and they would circle back to us. But if she changed her mind, let us know and we can put her back on there and she made a snap decision and fear of missing out (FOMO). So he used that fear and he got her and he got her account information and they drained the bank – actually, credit union. And working with the credit union now to make sure that those funds are still secure and those are the things to watch out for. If somebody calls you or contact you or email or send you something in the mail about something or COVID assistance or something from the government and it doesn’t pass the smell test – smells a little “fishy”– go back to what David was about — know your realtor and finance person and contact them or one of our agencies and we will help you with the research to make sure that you’re not taken advantage of. There were other products that are out there that some people can really use And they are not scams but it’s just that you need to be wary of what there. There are famous people after they are done making movies and TV shows, they come on in hawk different products online. One of them is reverse mortgage It is not taboo and it’s legal to do that But you have to be careful to see if that is right for you. I have a World War II veteran who has just turned 95 years old this year and we helped him out with $45,000 worth of renovations to his home and he got scammed after hurricane Harvey and paid them all of his money to repair the hole in his roof and they took the money and ran so we fixed his roof. My spider sense went off and I said something is not exactly right here. Great guy and worked directly as an attache for General Patton, amazing patriot or veteran and his family are patriots. We went and started asking the question behind the question. What about this or this. Somebody came to him with a reverse mortgage and that’s exactly what he has been doing. This is his second wife and she doesn’t speak a lot of English and she has no idea that when he passes, she has to move out because it is no longer their house. The way it is structured is that when he shuffles on, the house becomes somebody else’s There are laws to protect so we are working through that. Be careful, anything you do with that step — you don’t have to have a degree in finances but you have to ask the right questions and make sure it is there because you served our country and you don’t have to be an expert at everything but there are tons of resources and great people that really want to help you >>LORIG ARMENIAN: David you have anything to add to the scam issue? >>DAVID RAMIREZ: I will just say talking about what Tim had said, going back to the 2008 crisis when I worked for a mortgage company one of the continuous calls that we got where people are on foreclosure and just got a sheriff sale in 10 days they had to be out They’re working with other entities who misled them and took a fee for representing them for modification. When things like this occur like the crisis in 2008 with the housing market, that occurs people see a great opportunity to take advantage and ones we interact with, I’ll just be

honest — had an issue with the way they speak Maybe Hispanic and maybe had trouble communicating or they could be elders. Those were the main ones that the predators would call and would be a very difficult situation so one of the things I would put out there is that we work closely with CFPB and file those complaints. Go research like Tim said. Go online and – I never heard of the “Tim and David firm” that gives us this great modification but seriously, look for the reviews There’s a lot of credible references there. And educate yourself because if you’re not having those conversations directly with your lender, that is the first mistake. Let them know what is going on… I’m about to lose my job. They may be able to — they want to work out something with you. There’s special forbearances we saw in ‘08 due to what was going on where people were losing their jobs as well and they gave them a forbearance for 6 months Every lender will react differently and they have people internally that are going to make those decisions… the best decisions to keep you in your home that’s what I would convey I never like having the conversations that the banks are bad people. They are not in the real estate business. They want to work a resolution, but you have to have a conversation >>LORIG ARMENIAN: Thank you for that. Looks like we have a quiet group with no questions. I think I will probably wrap up with one of my own to finish it up. I have certainly learned a ton during the session. I thank you both Tim and David for all the information you — that you have shared. Here is the one I would like to end up with. And in 5 words or less what is the most important thing for homeowners and renters to know at this time? Tim? >>TIM STROUD: I wrote this down before because I knew you were going to do this and I forgot — I forgot what my 5 words were — on-the-fly I could say, have fun, research, communicate >>LORIG ARMENIAN: David? >>DAVID RAMIREZ: I think I would say and you heard the theme throughout the whole call — knowledge is power, educate yourself >>TIM STROUD: We have other resources such as the national resource directory, and there other ones per individual states or regions that have great resources for you. When we say housing, it is not just housing. Because it’s part of your budget That means something is coming in or going out but there are discounts to be if you have served and register on sites like veteran tickets, it is vettix.org. It is free tickets. My — my service dog you see over here Colton he has gone to 17 different concerts eighth row at Katy Perry and Pink. I have teenage daughters and the tickets were $200 apiece and I got 4 tickets (worth) $800 and cost me $15.95. I paid more for parking. So taking that money that is your entertainment budget so I didn’t spend $800 to take 2 teenagers and a friend and another veteran to go see that but less than $20 or $40 but now I can transition that somewhere else and know what is coming in and know what is going out. That way you can be diligent with your budget whether there’s a crisis or not >>LORIG ARMENIAN: And with that, Tim, it is not lost on me and David that you took more than 5 words at the end >>DAVID RAMIREZ: I love working with you, Tim! Great job! >>LORIG ARMENIAN: I will drop it off on behalf of Freddie Mac thank you to Easterseals for this forum. Thank you Soldier On, thank you David and Tim it’s been a pleasure for me, very educational. And till next time we wish everyone a belated Veterans Day and good luck going forward in your home ownership journey