Morris Park businesses counsel veterans

Banks and realty firms visited the James J. Peters VA Medical Center on February 2 for a real estate symposium. Vet volunteer Johnnie Williams, vet volunteer Carmine Mezzacappa, Today Realty’s Vince Buccicerri and attorney Laura Browne.

Many veterans come home to no home. On Monday, February 2, volunteers Johnnie Williams and Carmine Mezzacappa organized a Veterans Helping Veterans real estate symposium for patients at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center on Kingsbridge Road.

Vince Buccicerri of Today Realty in Morris Park and Laura Browne, a Williamsbridge Road real estate attorney, offered homebuyer tips. Many veterans are eligible for low-cost, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-backed home loans.

“It was my first time at the VA hospital,” Buccicerri said. “I had to swallow my pride. I had to reflect on how important it is to support our troops in battle. The guys at the VA hospital are dealing with problems. But they stand tall. They stand proud.”

Nearly 3,000 veterans attended the afternoon symposium, Williams said. Representatives from 15 banks and realty firms participated, including Wells Fargo, Prudential Rand Realty and Citibank.

“Citibank had a ton of customers,” Williams said. “Today Realty did well.”

Williams is a lifelong Bronxite, Vietnam War veteran and recovered drug addict. He suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and has penned four inspirational books.

“I walk around the hospital and people tell me what they need,” Williams said.

According to Mezzacappa, buying a home is an important step for veterans.

“It raises their confidence,” he said. “The VA home loans are fantastic.”

Mezzacappa is also a Bronxite and Vietnam War veteran.

VA home loan benefits include: no down payment, no mortgage insurance and lower monthly rates. On February 2, Buccicerri advised hopeful homeowners to steer clear of the Internet.

“You can search for a home on the Internet,” he said. “But when it comes time to negotiate, you want someone breathing in front of you.”

It’s important that a capable engineer survey your new home, Buccicerri said. The engineer will check your roof and boiler.

Williams thanked Today Realty for participating.

“The veterans were satisfied,” he said. “They enjoyed the family atmosphere.”

Williams also thanked MetLife, the Community Housing & Credit Resource Center, the VA Mortgage Center, Joseph Carofano, GreenPath, the National Veterans Business Development Corporation and the Small Business Administration.

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