Broker Barb Riley; Raising the Real Estate Bar for VeteransLIV Sotheby's
A recent closing in Stapleton, Colorado, marked the end of a near two-year struggle to find one disabled United States Veteran a home. Far too long for any waiting veteran, in the opinion of LIV Sotheby’s International Realty broker, Barb Riley, who spent countless hours seeking fruition in what was a particularly trying home buying process for the Vet.
“When an agent meets with a buyer or seller for the first time, the agent tries to prepare the client for the journey that lies ahead. But sometimes a house doesn’t sell right away or the perfect property for a buyer doesn’t exist – so the journey simply takes longer. An experienced agent doesn’t abandon the client; they simply refine the journey,” said Barb Riley, broker at LIV Sotheby’s International Realty, Castle Pines Village.
The journey began when Sarah and Artae Curry contacted Riley after their relocation to Denver from their life-long home in Fort Worth, Texas. The couple was seeking a wheelchair accessible home, close to Denver’s VA hospital, which offered the services Artae Curry requires due to injuries he sustained serving as a Sergeant in the U.S. army in the Iraq war.
Curry suffered a traumatic brain injury, followed by post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on his return to the States, and then was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) shortly after. Seeking a dry climate, better for MS, and close proximity to a VA hospital, the Curry’s turned to Riley, to find their home; but no listings on the resale market met Artae Curry’s needs.
Riley, a highly-experienced new-home broker and 36-year real estate veteran adopted a creative approach to the problem by suggesting the possibility of a new-build. Contacting builders who had experience, or interest, in building an ADA accessible home from a dirt start was another story.
It took 6 months of searching before the Curry’s contracted with builder, Boulder Creek Neighborhoods (BCN) in May of 2014, to build a custom home in the Conservatory Green neighborhood, in Stapleton, CO. Close proximity to the new VA hospital provided the perfect location to build and BCN went above and beyond to help the struggling Veteran.
“Boulder Creek Neighborhoods bent over backwards for us,” said Sarah Curry. “We needed a main floor master bedroom, grab bars in the shower, and entry and exit platforms. They did it all.”
Though the builder had been identified, financial obstacles still stood in the way of making the Curry’s dream a reality. Riley contacted the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, seeking a Special Adaptive Housing (SAH) grant. The grant, up to $70,000, is available to Veterans and Service members to increase the mobility of veterans by providing barrier-free living. Rarely in metro-Denver has a grant been awarded in conjunction with a new build, but through unwavering persistence, the Curry’s were awarded the grant in full.
With the builder and the grant program identified, next came the challenge to find a lender who could incorporate the Grant as part of the down payment. The Curry’s and Riley teamed up with Annette Mastin, senior mortgage loan originator, at Pinnacle Mortgage, who was familiar with the program herself. She had helped her own father, a disabled veteran, through the process, and was able to secure financing for the Curry’s.
To better assist the housing needs of Veterans, Riley earned the Military Relocation Professional (MRP) designation in 2013, and joined the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP) in 2014. In only 18 months Riley has closed over 40 transactions with USAA Relocation, and believes service to the military is a key part of her continued business plan. She is the daughter of an Army Veteran, sister of an active duty JAG officer and was born on a military base in Puerto Rico.
“As the new VA hospital opens in Aurora in the next couple of years, I expect a far greater demand from retired veterans moving to the metropolitan Denver region for treatment. The service to our veteran community will become even more critical in years to come,” said Riley. “There is always new information and updated methods of putting together a transaction for the benefit of the veteran community.”