The Greater Tampa Association of REALTORS® is poised to grow the Foundation through partnerships
The Greater Tampa Association of REALTORS® (GTAR), a trade organization representing more than 8,400 real estate professionals, provides housing assistance programs and educational opportunities for Hillsborough County residents through its REALTORS® Care Foundation (Foundation), continues to assist first-time homebuyers with down payment assistance grants of up to $5,000.
“The Foundation’s presence in this community is very important—for both those who are benefiting from the program as well as those who are joining us to help support our mission,” said Jay Wazelle, a REALTOR® with Keller-Williams, whose recent client benefited from a grant from the Foundation. “It helps individuals who might not otherwise have that last portion of money available to them.”
In recent months, the Tampa Bay Builders Association and Florida REALTORS® each provided grants in the amount of $10,000 to support The Foundation. “Such partnerships are crucial for our organization and ultimately allow us to collectively help more families establish their homes in this area,” Wazelle said.
Wazelle’s most recent success story involved a client who is a disabled veteran. The Foundation provided financial assistance to help his client, who may not have otherwise qualified to receive a grant. “In government-secured programs such as FHA and VA loans, down payment assistance has to meet specific requirements in terms of its source. It can’t just come from anywhere, and such clients can come to the Foundation to see if they can qualify. And when they do, and we can help them, it’s a win-win situation.”
The REALTORS® Care Foundation of GTAR, which was formed as a public charity in 2007, has financially helped 73 families since its inception—a total of $313,277. Nearly 99% of those families are still living in the same homes they purchased with the assistance of the Foundation.
Ana Chirino, owner and real estate broker of Chirino Real Estate, recently helped a young immigrant family from Cuba purchase a home in Tampa. “My client established himself through his work for the past year, and received down payment assistance from the Foundation,” Chirino said. “His wife and daughter are currently in the interview process and will be joining him soon.”
Chirino understands the importance of the Foundation providing comprehensive benefits to the entire community. On the buyers’ side, she said down payment assistance frees up funds that they can put toward repairs and improvements. “In a situation where house prices are increasing, sellers willing to pay for closing costs is becoming a rare situation,” Chirino said. “The Foundation is allowing sellers to get more money for their listings too. It would be fantastic to see more REALTORS® contribute to such a great cause by simply checking the Foundation box during GTAR’s dues renewal period.”
“We have a great opportunity to show the heart and soul of the REALTOR® organization by joining with other community leaders to forge an alliance that will make a difference,” Wazelle said. “As we look forward, we are looking to broaden the recipients from a demographic perspective by increasing diversity in the program.”
As the Foundation expands its footprint throughout the Tampa Bay community, it is also poised to increase the amount of funds available to provide to qualified applicants. In an effort to achieve this expansion, the Foundation is looking for local business partners who would be interested in contributing to this important cause and share the recognition that comes with assisting families in need.