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Real estate agents, insurers give firefighters, police officers a break on homes’ closing costs

Real estate agents, insurers give firefighters, police officers a break on homes’ closing costs

Mike and Sabrina Bilek saved $ 11,050 on closing costs for their home in Anaheim Hills. Mike is an Orange County Fire Authority firefighter and a Coast Guard vet. COURTESY OF BROOKE MEYER

They all started crying.

Imagine that, real estate and insurance agents sitting together on a Friday morning wiping their eyes as they talk about an idea they came up with to help local police and firefighters.

“It’s absolutely emotional,” Michelle Gorden said through her tears. “We know what a home means.”

OC Hero Homes is the brainchild of Gorden and Brooke Meyer, who have been rival real estate agents in Huntington Beach. They were inspired in October, when they heard about a national program called Homes for Heroes based in Minnesota. Gorden and Meyer created their own plan – which cuts into their commission on the sale of homes to give credit on closing costs to local police and firefighters.

“Instead of competing against each other, let’s bring our forces together,” Brooke Meyer said.

They were joined by Jon Shrum, a lender, and Melissa Watanabe, an insurance agent, and they formed OC Hero Homes. They’ve been walking up to police and fire departments since January, carrying jars of candy and asking the personnel who work there if they need help buying, selling or refinancing a house.

So far, they helped more than 25 families (mostly in Huntington Beach, but they’ve also included Fountain Valley and Irvine), knocking between $ 900 and $ 11,050 off the closing costs of their homes.

Also, Watanabe has been offering home and car insurance discounts for police and firefighters.

When they get OC Hero Homes established for police and firefighters, Meyer said they want to branch out to veterans and active-duty military personnel.

“Our heroes put so much of themselves on the line; it’s great to give back to them,” Meyer said.

Their military connections are strong. Meyer’s father served in the Marine Corps. Gorden’s father served three tours in Vietnam.

Shrum served in the Air Force. And Watanabe’s brother served four years in the Air Force.

The formula worked for Mike and Sabrina Bilek, a couple living in a condominium in Irvine. Mike is a firefighter at the Orange County Fire Authority and a Coast Guard veteran.

“The savings we got blew us away,” Bilek said. “Until you see it on paper, you don’t realize how much the savings is worth.”

The Bileks recently moved into a new home in Anaheim Hills and saved $ 11,050 on their closing costs.

“It’s like Christmas when you give someone the keys to their new home,” Meyer said.

The Orange County Register – News Headlines : Real Estate News