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‘Homes for Heroes’ program helps Aberdeen couple find a home

December 15, 2018

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) — Louie and Rebecca Genzler never meant to look at the house they now call home.

It wasn’t even for sale, technically.

But now the couple will be hosting Christmas for all of their children and grandchildren this month, with a few extra presents under the tree thanks to the Homes for Heroes program.

Louie Genzler qualified for the program because he served in the U.S. Army Reserve for 24 years, the Aberdeen News reported .

He’s called many places home — from Texas to California to nearby Gettysburg and Blunt.

He and his wife had a deal.

“We always had an agreement. We spent 10 years mobilized in the military,” Rebecca Genzler said.

After that, it was time to be in Blunt in order take care of her mother, who died three years ago in March. Now they do the same for his parents, including his 80-year-old mother, who still lives independently in Aberdeen, and his father, who has Alzheimer’s and is in a local nursing facility.

“It took us a while to get here,” she said.

Louie Genzler retired from the military in May 2014. He now works at Menards.

He moved to Aberdeen May 20, choosing to initially live in his camper in The Meadows, a trailer park and campground on the south edge of town.

Six months later, on Oct. 27, Rebecca Genzler joined her husband, and the couple moved into their home. It was a timeline that makes them feel blessed.

Unlike the house they live in now, the house on the other side of South Jackson Street was actually for sale this fall.

But it wasn’t the right one, and somebody, somehow, knew better.

In August or September, after having taken a tour of the house that was then on the market, the couple was approached by a stranger, Louie Genzler said.

“You guys looking to buy a home?” the man said.

“Yes.”

And there it was, right across the street, a home owned by the man who approached them, Clarence Habeck, and his wife, Lori. The fenced-in yard was perfect for the Genzlers’ two dogs. It was the right size. And it had character.

“We love its character. It’s a story,” Rebecca Genzler said. “You know there was plenty of family events here (when the previous owners had it), and we just liked that.”

As luck would have it, the Habecks listed the house with Danelle McMaster of First Premier Realty. McMaster is a new affiliate for Homes for Heroes in Aberdeen, she said.

The program was formed after 9/11 as a form of thanks to heroes, including firefighters, law enforcement, military, health care and emergency medical system workers, and teachers.

While Louie Genzler was McMaster’s first hero, she hopes others follow.

So does he, as he knows many who are deserving not only locally, but across the U.S.

The paperwork was simple and minimal.

“I didn’t feel like I had to jump through hoops,” he said.

Genzler feels like the program opened more doors for him because a bank reached out to offer him lending for the program. But, he said, he already had financing in place.

When a “hero” uses an affiliate real estate agent, lending specialist or business like a title company, he or she receives what are called Hero Rewards.

For instance, a seller gets 25 percent of the commission refunded at closing. And the buyer gets 0.7 percent of the purchase price back after closing.

Homes for Heroes estimates it has helped more than 25,000 heroes save more than $40.41 million nationwide.

“They are real rewards,” McMaster said. “They are truly going to feel it in their pocketbooks.”

It seems like a good time of year for the kickback, Genzler said. The couple used the money to stack presents under their Christmas tree.

The program is close to McMaster’s heart. She said her husband, who was a paramedic/firefighter, died in February.

He was really passionate with his service, she said.

When McMaster first learned of the program, there was already an affiliate in Aberdeen.

The number of Homes for Heroes affiliates in each area is determined by population, she said. That meant she had to leave her contact information in case a local position in the program opened.

When it did, Homes for Heroes contacted her.

Now McMaster hopes to expand her business with the program, as well as get others on board.

“If we businesses get creative, there’s so much more potential,” she said.

Because rewards can be layered, buyers can get money back from each affiliate. So if the title company is an affiliate, a buyer can get a percentage back on the closing. And if the bank is an affiliate, the buyer can also get a percentage back on the loan, McMaster explained.

Plus, the definition of “heroes” with the program is vague, McMaster said, which allows her to cast a wide net.

“Dispatcher is just as important to my end result as the law person responding to the call,” she said.

The stress of some of the hero professions affects entire families, she said.

“The program is also a way that we can give back to them — the whole family,” McMaster said.

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Information from: Aberdeen American News, http://www.aberdeennews.com

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