Resources for Military Veterans Who Want to Invest in Real Estate
By Kerry Curry, B2R Contributing Writer
Finding a civilian job after a military career can be nothing short of daunting.
For Army National Guard veteran Wayne Demar, a typical 9-to-5 job wasn’t in the cards. A debilitating back injury and rotator cuff surgery sidelined him following a 2008-2009 deployment to Afghanistan. He received military disability status in 2012.
“When I got back from Afghanistan, I was literally the walking wounded,” says Demar, who also spent 11 years in the U.S. Air Force — from 1986 to 1997 — before re-enlisting post 9/11.
Nighttime anxiety, a holdover from his Afghanistan deployment, also makes it difficult to sleep, so Demar sought a career with flexibility, such as the option to work at night when he’s awake.
He found his calling as a residential real estate investor.
Demar bought his first investment property in Hollywood, Fla., in 2012. He lives in the house and rents out a mother-in-law suite. His second purchase was an $82,000 three-bedroom house that rents for $1,400 month — significant cash flow over his $350-a-month mortgage.
Now he’s seeking financing to continue to build his portfolio. To be sure, raising capital is a key hurdle for veteran entrepreneurs like Demar. And there are a lot of them.
In the private sector workforce, veterans are at least 45 percent more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed, according to research from the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The nation has more than 21 million veterans, including more than 3.6 million who have served since 9/11.
Richard Lester, director of the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University, said the Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) is a resource that can help veterans who want to become real estate investors.
EBV was started by Syracuse University in 2007 and has since expanded into a consortium of 10 universities that provide entrepreneurial training to post-9/11 service-disabled vets. It consists of a 30-day online course, a nine-day residency at an EBV university and 12 months of support and mentorship.
Real estate, banking and construction have been attractive industries for veterans entering the program, Lester said.
“It is pretty competitive,” he said. “I’ll get about 40 applications for 25 slots so you have a reasonable chance, but not everyone gets in,” he said of A&M’s program.
To boost their chances, veterans should display a passion for their venture. That could involve a veteran taking the initiative to meet mentors or to start a business plan before applying.
Someone who already bought his first investment property shows clear interest in entrepreneurship, said Lester. “That is significant engagement so that would be very attractive to us,” he said.
Below is a list of resources for veterans who seek assistance in creating a real estate investment career:
- Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV). See http://ebv.vets.syr.edu/
- SCORE: The national nonprofit offers free business advice to entrepreneurs via volunteers who are working or retired business leaders. See score.org
- Small Business Administration: The SBA’s Small Business Development Centers offer resources to vets through a variety of services, including one-on-one counseling on business startups. See sba.gov
- Support networks: Online and in-person networking resources such as LinkedIn (linkedin.com), Startup Veterans (startupveterans.org) or local real estate investment clubs provide a variety of networking opportunities.
- Veteran groups: Veteran groups provide services in many cities. Momentum Texas, for example, helps vets start businesses, get job training or raise capital.
For veterans, the opportunity to invest in themselves and their future is what makes real estate an attractive investment and career option that can also meet their post-service needs and requirements.
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