BEMIDJI — Homes for Heroes, a Minneapolis-based organization that helps heroes buy and sell homes, is now present in the Bemidji area, the first community to be involved in the state.
ERA Pederson and Associates Realty agents Trent Eineichner and Jennifer Martinson have partnered with Homes for Heroes, serving the area from Bagley to Park Rapids.
“They believe in our mission,” Homes for Heroes Director Sandra Carlson said. “Our mission is quite simple honestly. It is to pay it forward, to say thank you for (the heroes’) services.”
The organization helps workforce heroes including military personnel, teachers, firefighters, law enforcement officials, doctors and nurses.
It started shortly after 9/11, when a group of Minnesota real-estate agents decided they wanted to honor those who serve the nation and its communities by providing discounts and rebates when buying and selling homes.
Today, Homes for Heroes is represented in 45 states. Because of a no-compete clause with a Coldwell Banker franchise, the organization was unable to provide its services in Minnesota. The clause has expired and Bemidji was chosen as the starting point in the state.
“I chose Bemidji, honestly, because it is near and dear to my heart,” said Carlson, a Bemidji native.
The way Homes for Heroes works is through a discount given by the real-estate agent. Agents agree to a rebate of 25 percent of their gross commission, given to the buyer at the time of closing.
For Eineichner and Martinson, the decision to get involved with Homes for Heroes was easy, even with the 25 percent cut.
“I am good with the 25 percent,” Martinson said. “It doesn’t bother me (and) it doesn’t hurt me at all. If it will help them in some way to be able to afford a house, get a better house or whatever the case may be, I am good with it.”
For Martinson, the program allows her to give back to nurses and doctors like those who fought to keep her husband alive for as long as they could after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2001 and later died in 2003.
It was a no-brainer for Eineichner to get involved, because in addition to working as a real-estate agent, he works as a full-time firefighter in Bemidji.
“It’s worth it to me,” Eineichner said. “For one, I am giving back to the community, something I do in my job, and if another agent calls from out of town with someone that wants to buy a house here, the referral fee I would pay them is very similar to this.”
The agents have reached out to local law enforcement, the fire department and other places that may have qualifying heroes.
They currently are working with eight heroes, but no closings have occurred.
To register with the program, heroes can go to www.HomesForHeroes.com.
Carlson said the broad plan is to establish Homes for Heroes in Bemidji and then look to move east.
“We say it is good for your heart and great for your business,” Carlson said. “It is a cause-marketing program because our affiliates are paying it forward.”