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28 | TH E M R EP O RT FEATURE "There are quite a few markets across the U.S. where the real estate community advises their sellers not to take government contracts," Bergjans said. "This is partially due to outdated beliefs regarding the VA customer, in combination with past experienc - es of working with VA appraisers. In the 1980s, '90s, and even during the early 2000s, VA loans were different and had a much different customer." In the past, the VA was confront - ed with a shortage of VA-approved appraisers nationwide, which led to appraisal orders taking up to three to four months to be completed in some markets. Additionally, VA ap - praisers were often considered to be more stringent than other appraisers in the industry. To correct this, the VA reached out to local appraisers throughout the country and encouraged them to become VA appraisers. In ad - dition, appraisers were provided with an after-market survey. After receiving feedback from the survey, the VA saw that their appraisal fees were significantly lower than market value and contributing to their appraiser shortage. Today, there is no lack of VA appraisers in the market, and the turnaround time for an appraisal has been greatly reduced. Currently, a VA appraisal is completed and deliv - ered within seven to 14 days in markets across the U.S. "Mortgage professionals who entered the market prior to 2011 may believe VA loans are the same as they were in previous decades, but this is no longer the case," Bergjans said. VA loans and the beliefs sur - rounding them aren't the only things that have changed over the past few years. The typical VA client has changed significantly, too. Bergjans explained that real estate professionals across the U.S. often assume VA customers have poor credit or limited assets. In statistics provided by the VA in 2016, the average national credit score for a veteran was 713, where - as the national consumer average was only 673. Additionally, the national underwriting approval percentage of VA loans that year was 95.5%. With these results, Caliber is working to shift the current culture to better serve military borrowers. Since 2011, the military has increased its requirements for service members to maintain sound financial management by requiring attendance at classes and offering financial planning services on base. Most jobs in the military require some level of security clearance, and, now more than ever, service members are required to maintain high credit standards in order to retain their clearance. Next Year's Model C aliber has bold plans for their 2018 national education pro- grams. The company plans to en- gage with real estate associations across the country to educate over 100,000 people in the industry. Caliber hopes the initiative will assist professionals in understand - ing the complexities of VA lending and encourage meaningful change within the industry. Caliber emphasizes how seasoned professionals need to stay up-to-date with VA industry changes. Additionally, Caliber encourages new professionals to gain a deeper understanding of VA lending and military custom - ers. Once training is complete, graduates of the course will share their VA lending knowledge with fellow industry professionals. Ultimately, at the core of Caliber's strategy, the firm focuses on making cultural changes that will benefit the military community throughout the nation. Caliber also plans to create educational classes for military members in 2018. The classes will provide detailed information about the homebuying process and pres - ent lending products for which veterans and active-duty service members may be eligible. The classes will be held near military bases across the United States. To provide a comprehen - sive, well-rounded education in homebuying, Caliber will partner with professionals outside of the mortgage industry who may assist military homebuyers during the homebuying process. These include insurance professionals, financial planning experts, and nonprofit organizations. In many cases, the teachers will be current and former military personnel. This will help to establish credibility and camara - derie with the students. "At Caliber, we consider it an honor to support the military and veteran community," said Sanjiv Das, CEO of Caliber Home Loans. "I'm proud of the Caliber team for its continued effort to provide the best service to VA customers nationwide. We believe that sound VA lending efforts will create a positive, lasting impact on the industry nationwide." LAUREN ABNEY currently resides in Oklahoma City, and is a licensed attorney in the state of Oklahoma. She has worked as a Servicing Operations Analyst for Caliber Home Loans since February 2015 and implements regulatory requirements and compliance guidelines from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, government-sponsored enterprises, and new laws stemming from litigation in the mortgage industry. She received a B.A. in art history from Boston University, and a J.D. from the University of Tulsa College of Law, specializing in international and comparative law. "Mortgage professionals who entered the market prior to 2011 may believe VA loans are the same as they were in previous decades, but this is no longer the case." —Bryan Bergjans, National Director of Military and VA Lending, Caliber Home Loans

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