Member Stories

Multi-Union Actor Earns Cash Back on Way to Role of His Life: Homeowner

Joel Schmidt, a SAG-AFTRA, Actor’s Equity and The American Federation of Musicians member, has worked as a musical theatre actor, opera singer, television actor, and commercial star. He’s played across mediums, from national and regional venues to commercial work and appearances in series on national television networks.

"My career has taken me all over the U.S., and I’ve played so many great roles," said Schmidt. "Along the way, my union involvement has meant a lot, and when I was a part of the National Opera at the Kennedy Center, I was asked to sit in on negotiations with management. I’ve seen how unions can be such an asset to anyone making a living in the performing arts."

Along the way, Schmidt met his future wife on stage. They played respective lead roles in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. The couple eventually had children and decided to settle down in southern California so they could parent and continue doing the work they love.

"We were done with our lives as gypsies," said Schmidt, who has served as an Actor’s Equity Union Deputy on many of the sets he’s worked. "Over time, a house seemed like the best step for us as we became rooted in northern San Diego County, CA, and yet we also realized we were in a very expensive market and began looking for ways to make home buying more affordable."

Schmidt suddenly recalled a Union Plus Real Estate Rewards Program email, reviewed his inbox, found it and clicked away. 

The Real Estate Rewards Program runs in partnership with SIRVA, which delivers customized relocation and moving solutions across more than 170 countries. Through it, home buyers and sellers can earn $500 cash-back for every $100,000 in home value when using a SIRVA-approved real estate agent.

"Our SIRVA-approved agent was incredible, especially given the tight market in our region. He actually helped us find a house by going into the neighborhood where we sought to settle – and where there were no homes for sale – created a flier to engage potential sellers, and when one emerged, he facilitated the whole transaction," said Schmidt.

Having purchased his home in the $500,000 range, Schmidt received more than $2,000 cash back. Between his agent experience and the money, he is an enthusiastic advocate of the program.

"I would recommend this program to anybody and everybody who is a union member,” he said. “If they are thinking about buying or selling a home, they should just do the math. Plus, it was so easy to apply and the process was entirely smooth."

For Schmidt, to find, buy and get cash back on a house while being supported by a pre-approved SIRVA agent made all of the difference.

"For a guy like me whose work is a freelance commercial yesterday and a major TV series tomorrow, the Union Plus Real Estate Rewards program was perfect," said Schmidt. "Cash back and a great agent made it so."

To learn more about the Union Plus Real Estate Rewards Program, visit

Real Estate Rewards

Get Cash Back When You Buy or Sell Your Home

The Union Plus Real Estate Rewards Program is not available in all states.

Certain state restrictions apply to the real estate cash back program. To qualify for cash back reward (in cash back states), you must use a SIRVA-referred real estate agent. Program designed as a referral service to provide you the opportunity to select a real estate agent to meet your needs. You must evaluate the brokers, agents and their services and make selections and decisions based upon your best judgment, interest, priorities and concerns. Call 800-284-9756 or visit for important program details and state restrictions.

The minimum home value required for cash back or reduced commission is $75,000. There is no monetary reward for members, who use the program to buy a home, in non-cash back states. You must use a program-referred real estate agent in order to qualify for the cash back reward.

SIRVA is an independent provider of services. Union Plus is not affiliated with SIRVA and does not manage SIRVA or its programs.  SIRVA is paying Union Plus for advertising services including dissemination of information about SIRVA and its programs to participating unions and their members as well as participation in Union Plus events and programs. 

No referral, recommendation, service representation or exclusivity requirement is intended by the Union Plus’s mention or dissemination of the SIRVA name and delivery of this information to participating union members.

It is important that you evaluate the information provided and make decisions based upon your own best interest, priorities, and concerns.

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