There's a program that's saving America's unsung heroes thousands of dollars when they buy and sell homes. Inspired by the events of 9/11, Homes for Heroes was started in 2002 in Minnesota, and it has taken off nationally. The program is a network of real estate, mortgage and business specialists who are committed to helping every day heroes: people like firefighters, law enforcement, military, teachers, health care workers and EMS workers.

Nate Boen of Counselor Realty is part of the program. He’s personally helped more than a hundred people save thousands of dollars. “They don’t look at themselves as heroes. That’s what makes it so wonderful,” Boen said. Fighting tears, Boen went on to say, “I mean, a lot of them put their lives on the line every day for us. So, it’s a real honor and privilege to be part of this.”

Here’s how the program works, according to Homes for Heroes:

  • Real Estate Agents fund the Homes for Heroes program by giving back a portion of their gross commission fee every time a hero buys and/or sells a home. On average, this results in the American Hero saving about $2,400 when buying or selling.
  • If someone is buying a new house, Homes for Heroes mails a check to the hero after closing.
  • On average, the check is for 0.7% of the home purchase. That’s about $700 on every $100,000 of the purchase price.
  • The hero may save an additional $600 on lender fees, title services and a home inspection.
  • If a person is selling a house, the hero receives a credit at closing. The credit is 25% of the Homes for Heroes specialist’s gross commission. The hero can save an additional $150 on title services.

Jason and Kari Maloney benefited from the program when they bought their Bloomington home last year with Boen’s help.

OTHER NEWS: Veteran’s journey: 52 years later, Southwest Airlines pilot brings home father’s remains

Kari is a high school teacher and says she and her husband were surprised when they were told they qualified for the program.

“We thought it was incredible that a realtor would be so willing and sacrificial to give back to the buyers. He doesn’t have to do that, but he did and that was really impressive to us,” Kari said. She continued, “We don’t deserve that at all, but it was a sweet blessing. To be considered a hero in our community and in our school, it’s just humbling.”

OTHER NEWS: Firefighters push escape plans this Fire Prevention Week

Her realtor begs to differ. “We don’t have enough unsung heroes, people who don’t want credit, but are willing to give their shirt off their back for you,” Boen said.

So far, Homes for Heroes has given back more than $50 million to more than 30,000 people.

You can search for a participating realtor in the Homes for Heroes network here.