Caliber Home Loans is ambushing military families — for a good reason.
When Navy Reserve Lt. Bryan Bergjans told people he wanted a career in military lending, they looked at him like he was crazy. The push to encourage home ownership in the military and veteran communities wasn’t a priority at the time. Still, he saw an opportunity to improve the process.
“The lack of education around the program itself from all of the folks involved in the process across the board was terrible, from the realtor to the underwriter, it was bad,” Bergjans, senior vice president of military lending for Caliber Home Loans, said.
He enlisted in 1995 right out of high school and joined the Navy Reserve three years later to help with his education. By 2009, he received an MBA, working his civilian career around deployments. Bergjans set out to educate service members and their families about the home buying process, understanding that setting down roots is part of the ultimate American dream.
In his experience, the two common mistakes he sees service members make when buying a home are:
- Not getting a VA home loan certificate of eligibility first. [Read more about the steps to take on the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website]
- Service members don’t fully comprehend the financial obligation of owning a home — including the costs of repairs, replacements, and not becoming “house poor.”
Bergjans often speaks at conferences and military installations to simply break down those common misconceptions, but he also wanted to do more.
At the start of 2020, Caliber partnered with Army spouse Maria Reed, founder and CEO of “Moving with the Military,” to sponsor a series of home makeovers for military families around the U.S.
“Whether we do business with you from a mortgage perspective or we roll our sleeves up and pick up a shovel, we want to welcome you home,” he said.
For the inaugural makeover, a team of roughly 20 volunteers surprised a St. Louis, Missouri-based Air Force family as part of Mission: Welcome Home. The matriarch of the household, Cat Vandament, was nominated because she opens her home every Friday to locals nearby Scott Air Force Base. Bergjans described the surprise as the perfect way to make a positive impact in Caliber’s own area, while doing something special for an active-duty family.
And Vandament says the makeover will allow her to expand her work for others.
“This was one of the most incredible surprises that I’ve has ever been blessed with. But more than that, it will allow my family to serve both their military and civilian community on an even larger scale. Our yard is now a space that I have been dreaming of ever since we moved in. I feel like now my yard is an inviting and comfy space where friends, both old and new, can gather and continue to cultivate connection and create memories,” she said.