Justin Allen served in the Army for nearly 10 years prior to coming to Kellogg. During his time as a Green Beret, he witnessed first-hand how challenging homeownership can be for many service members. He realized that many service members are choosing to rent for long periods of time, even though they are creditworthy and eligible to buy a home.
Justin got involved in the Real Estate pathway while at Kellogg and, combining his knowledge of real estate, analytical skills honed at Kellogg, and passion for serving military members, founded Vet Equity, a company that addresses this homeownership pain point head on. Justin is one of 8 Zell Fellows at Kellogg, a prestigious fellowship awarded annually through which he will participate in a comprehensive accelerator program, that includes year-long mentorship, executive coaching, and the option of non-dilutive funding for this venture.
On average, service members are required to relocate every 2-3 years. Every time they move, they must find new housing at their new duty station. Furthermore, military members have around 10 days to find a place to live when they arrive at a new duty station, and it is usually a rushed, challenging and suboptimal experience. Knowing that they will move frequently and have little time to secure housing, most service members opt to rent -rather than own because of the flexibility this provides. However, this tradeoff comes at a cost; Service Members forego their ability to use a VA (Veterans Association) home loan to buy a home, ultimately losing the ability to build equity and financial security with a 0% down payment.
Beyond the complex circumstances in which service members are making these housing decisions, the Veterans Association (VA) home loan benefit may also be underutilized for the following reasons:
Some people don't know they have it
VA home loans are less competitive than traditional bank loans
Sellers might not want to take a VA home loan
VA Home loan has unique restrictions and fees
As a result, only 12% of the military members have ever used a VA home loan. Justin is betting on the missed opportunity here and thinks he can turn the table with Vet Equity. Given that there are around 2.2 million active duty and reserve members, and around 2/3 of these members live off-post, the potential to support this underserved audience in building equity through renting, versus renting and gaining nothing in return, is a compelling business case.
What Vet Equity Offers:
Vet Equity will offer quality single family rentals to service members living in military communities, where the tenant can actually build equity in the home they are living in through traditional rent payments. This provides the benefits of home ownership with the flexibility of a rental contract.
· For tenants: Every month, a small portion of their rent is invested in the home - much like a step function , the percentage of equity will grow as the tenant stays in the home. This equity will appreciate over time as the home appreciates in value, meaning more money and wealth for the service member. When the service member decides to cash in on their equity, they can sell it back to Vet Equity and receive a check.
· For homeowners and asset management practitioners: The military provides a unique network effect across every installation in the country. Vet Equity will provide an ecosystem where service members can rely on Vet Equity branded homes everywhere they go. Knowing the value of their service, they anticipate lower maintenance and turnover costs across the portfolio. Vet Equity will also have better control over vacancy rates, providing predictability on when service members will come and go from different installations. This valuable target market that provides a pool of excellent service member tenants is how Vet Equity is able to share equity with its customers.
Justin frequently gets told “This sounds amazing! Why doesn’t it exist?” and he believes that now is the perfect time to disrupt and innovate in the home rental space. The cost of living is the highest it’s ever been, and now more than ever service members are feeling this pain. Financial security is an ongoing issue in military communities, and Vet Equity is on a mission to tackle this problem by changing the relationship between service members and their homes. Justin is still in the development stage of his new venture but is in the process of raising funds and purchasing Vet Equity’s first package of homes. Justin will focus on military bases in Texas to begin his journey, with the plan to scale into 3-5 new markets within the first 2 years.