Veterans Affairs

VA Home Loan Guaranty Program Hits Milestone

By Anthony SanFilippo

The Department of Veteran Affairs celebrated a pair of milestones in early June, recognizing the 75th Anniversary of the GI Bill and the backing of the 24 millionth home loan as part of the Bill’s VA Home Loan Guaranty Program.

Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson delivered a keynote event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. commemorating the anniversary and landmark loan respectfully.

The GI Bill was originally signed into law by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1944 and over the course of the past seven-and-a-half decades has provided the resources for American service members to own a home.

VA loans also give veterans with poor credit an opportunity to qualify for a mortgage when they other wise would not be able to from traditional lenders.

“Knowing the VA has our back and that we can enjoy the American dream is absolutely something special, and it’s been a relief to my family.”

In 2018, Veterans United issued more than 45,000 VA loans worth more than $10.4 billion. Quicken Loans had the second most VA loans issued coming in just over 35,000 and they were worth $9.1 billion.

“The GI Bill has positively impacted millions of men and women through education, medical funding and home loans,” Carson said, according to a press release. “It is through this area that HUD is proud to have made such a profound impact in the lives of our nation’s veterans. And while the tremendous debt we owe to our brothers and sisters in arms may never be fully repaid, we can and will do everything in our power to leverage the GI Bill and HUD’s programs to provide affordable housing for all Americans.”

Having this event kick off the month of June was a perfect fit for Homeownership Month and as such, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) was well-represented. Association President John Smaby attended the event and told the tale of one of his very first home sales to a Vietnam veteran 40 years ago which was purchased through the VA loan program.

NAR has long been strongly committed to the VA loan program, and Smaby reiterated that support.

“As we stand here and think about what 75 years of the VA loan means to Americans, I am reminded of that very special day,” Smaby said of his first experience with a VA loan. “It is also unbelievable what this bill does for our economy and what it means to REALTORS® across the country. There is no greater day for the agents in my office than when we see a veteran come through our doors after buying a home.”

Army Sgt. 1st Class William Kopf

In addition, the 24 millionth VA loan was given to Army Sgt. 1st Class William Kopf, an Active Guard Reserve Soldier, who moved to Northeastern Pennsylvania (near Scranton) from Salt Lake City, Utah after being reassigned.

It was the third loan Kopf has taken out through the VA, having previously used the program to buy homes in Salt Lake City and earlier in Columbus, Ohio.

“I’ve got more VA loans than Quaker has oats,” he told the Columbia Tribune. “When you’re deployed, you’re not thinking about your next life steps; you’re not worried about a loan, you’re not worried about a home. You’re worried about that day’s mission and the wellbeing of the troops.

“But when you are [back home] and you’re trying to make that transition to the next part of your life, that’s where the VA comes in – and that’s where you need them the most. Knowing the VA has our back and that we can enjoy the American dream is absolutely something special, and it’s been a relief to my family.”

About VA loans

VA loans do not require a down payment and has limited closing costs. More than three million loans are currently active through the VA with an average of 2,000 loans guaranteed each day.

In 2018, VA loans increased for the seventh consecutive year, which is an all-time high, and is likely a big part of the reason veteran homelessness decreased by 5.4 percent in 2018 and has been virtually cut in half since the start of the decade.

In 2009, VA loans made up only about 2 percent home mortgage market, but that has swelled to 12 percent today, Veterans United Education Director Chris Birk told the Tribune.

“This is arguably the most powerful home loan on the market,” Birk said. “It’s had a tremendous impact on the people in this country.”


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