American veterans have sacrificed to defend our country. Now some of them are being kept from achieving part of the American dream. Karen Hensel has tonight’s 7Investigates.

Army reserve veteran Lucas Reilly served his country for 15 years fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq

But now he’s facing another battle: Buying a home.

Lucas Reilly/military veteran: “I’ve always wanted to own a home. But now it’s challenging.”

His military service earned him a home loan guarantee through the Department of Veterans Affairs, which allows veterans and active service members to buy a home with no down payment.

But that guarantee is no longer possible because of a landmark real estate settlement.

Lucas Reilly/military veteran: “I don’t know that I can get a house at this point. With the way things are, we’ll be renting indefinitely.”

The problem began after a lawsuit was filed against realtors for charging higher commissions to people selling their homes.

The National Association of Realtors settled the suit, agreeing to change its commission rules, forcing buyers to pay their agent’s commission.

But for veterans like Lucas, and Gustavo Dias, that’s not possible.

Gustavo Dias/veteran and realtor: “Veteran buyers are prohibited from paying any compensation, commissions, or fees. Now if the buyers are paying compensation, and the VA has a policy that says, veterans cannot pay compensation, we have a conflict.”

Gustavo helps veterans nationwide find homes. As a veteran himself, he knows this settlement is a hurdle for other service members.

Gustavo Dias/realtor: “It’s already a difficult process to get a VA loan offer accepted. Now, you go in and you mandate a commission. It’s going to be that much more difficult for veterans to be able to afford getting into a home.”

Lucas says six sellers already turned him away because of the strict VA rules and now, he’s ready to give up.

Lucas Reilly/military veteran: “The only guarantee I had is the one that I earned. But it’s almost moot now. It’s almost like that bonus or that incentive is a promise they can’t keep.”

The real estate commission changes will go into effect in July. The VA tells us in the meantime, it is working with the Department of Justice to make sure veterans are not disadvantaged.

But it would not tell 7Investigates if that means the rule will change.

Gustavo Dias / realtor: “I’m calling on our governor, I’m calling on, on anybody who’s willing to listen, help the veterans out. To hear another veteran just giving up hope on being able to buy a home and having to have a long-term rental, it’s just heart-wrenching.”

Some in Congress are searching for solutions.

Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is the chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, told 7 Investigates “I’ll fight to ensure that all pathways, that can lead to owning a home, stay open for veterans and anyone who aspires to this American dream.”

Lucas Reilly / military veteran: “It feels like a bait and switch. I mean, I know that people appreciate veterans. 100%. But at the same time, I think the VA needs to make our options more, more marketable, make them aligned with the way things are.”

Because vets who served their country must have the opportunity to actually live the American dream.

Karen Hensel, 7News


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