Military members seem to be warming up to VA loans when buying their first homes, a new report shows.
The share of service members using VA mortgage loans instead of conventional ones to purchase their first homes more than doubled from before the housing crisis hit to after the dust settled, according to a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Only 30 percent of first-time military home-buyers used VA loans around 2006, with the majority instead relying on conventional real-estate options or other government-funded loans, the report indicated.
But by 2009, 63 percent of that group used VA loans. That figure increased to 78 percent by 2016.
VA loans can offer substantial benefits compared to other loans.
One of the main advantages a VA loan provides is that home-buyers can get a 100 percent loan that doesn’t require a down payment. Most commercial loans require a down payment and usually tap out at 80 or 85 percent of the property’s value.
Military housing experts said these results indicate both that the VA loan system is functioning properly and that the overall housing market is doing well.
“I’m very happy with the VA program,” said Ed Robinson, senior vice president and head of real-estate lending at USAA.
He said that a sizable percentage of loans USAA gives out are VA loans and that a significant number of their veteran members receive disability benefits and are thus eligible to have their VA loan’s funding fee waived.
Tom Lynch, NewDay USA’s executive chairman, was similarly bullish on what this data means for the VA loan system and the housing market.
“For a good period of time, many were not even aware that they have the benefit of a VA home mortgage,” he said. “I’m pleased to see that the numbers are rising and the word is getting out.”
Lynch said that NewDay USA, itself a VA loan provider, regularly gives out loans in the $225,000 to $250,000 range. That tracks with the CFPB’s finding that the median dollar amount of VA loans taken out by first-time military home-buyers increased from $156,000 in 2006 to $212,000 in 2016.
“I think you’re going to see home values rise even more so,” Lynch said. “That’s a good thing for the veteran and a good thing for America.”