"I served in Germany for three years," Nederlof said. "It was the best time of my life."
But when he began searching for a home to buy for himself and his wife, he realized he was facing another battle he didn't expect.
"I thought that after approval, it would be easy," said Nederlof.
Nederlof told FOX40, he was quickly approved for a VA loan. But the hard part was finding a seller who would accept it.
"Very tough, very tough," said Nederlof. "You go back and forth. I keep calling the agent-did he accept it? 'Oh no, you're outbid. Somebody already paid cash.'"
Jason Lewis, Nederlof's real estate broker, said Nederlof isn't alone.
"If you're a homeowner, it's great to be a homeowner in Sacramento right now. If you're a homebuyer, it's not so good," said Lewis.
According to Lewis, the problem is a combination of low inventory and high demand. It's making it tough for many people in Sacramento to buy a house, but especially VA loan buyers.
"Homeowners are generally going to look at cash offers, conventional offers, FHA offers, and generally the last offer to be looked at or selected are VA offers," said Lewis.
Lewis told FOX40, VA offers can sometimes come in under value, and may require the seller to do something additional, like paint, before the deal can be approved. When faced with less restrictive offers that may be above asking price, a VA loan buyer like Nederlof can be left out in the cold.
"Most people that are even qualified for VA find themselves having to convert to FHA or conventional type of financing. A VA loan is probably not going to get accepted," said Lewis.
The biggest threat to local home buyers are coming from outside the Sacramento area. Lewis said roughly 40% of his offers are from Bay Area buyers, and many offer to pay straight cash for the house.
For veterans like Nederlof, who can't compete, the endless searching can be exhausting. But he said, after more than 20 offers, his VA loan offer was finally accepted.
But according to Lewis, for countless other veterans, the desperate search for housing will continue.
"The new inventory we are seeing right now is the new normal. And in California, we just need to get used to it," said Lewis.