Women Veterans: Perfect Candidates for the VA Home Loan
An exhaustive, landmark study prepared by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs attempted to identify the VA benefit utilization rates. This report covered all facets of VA benefits from home loans to health care to education. What do the numbers tell us and how can women take advantage of these benefits, specifically the VA mortgage?
Female Veteran Stats
According to the study, some interesting numbers were uncovered, among them:
• Women represented 8 percent of the total veteran population for a total of 1.5 million female veterans.
• Twenty-three percent of all female veterans had a high school diploma or less compared with 44 percent of non-veteran women.
• Forty-seven percent of veteran women had some college education compared to just 32 percent of non-veteran women; thirty percent of female veterans completed college compared to only 25 percent of non-veteran women.
• Veteran women were more likely in the work force than non-veteran women, 76 percent to 71 percent.
• Women veterans were less likely than non-veteran women to be living in poverty.
• Average income for female veterans in 2009 was $60,300 compared to the non-veteran women’s income at $54,500.
So what do we have? Female veterans are, on average:
• More educated than non-veteran women
• Higher earners than non-veteran women
• More financially stable as well as very likely to be eligible for the VA home loan
The VA Home Loan and Women
The demographic of veteran women make them ideal candidates for a VA home loan. On average, they can more easily qualify for a VA mortgage than their non-veteran counterparts. At the same time, single women overall are outpacing single male home buyers at a rate of almost 2 to 1, according to a recent National Association of Realtors report.
In addition, credit reporting giant Experian says women carry less debt than men, and are statistically more likely to make their mortgage payments on time.
All in all, women veterans are perfect candidates for the VA home loan.
The VA home loan program is one of many benefits offered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs including healthcare, disability services and financial assistance for higher education. And for those female borrowers with little or no funds available for a down payment, the VA home loan is the ideal program.
Buying a home is an empowerment issue. Real estate helps those acquire long term wealth as their home equity increases. Federal tax code treats mortgage interest favorably allowing borrowers who itemize deduct the interest paid on a mortgage from their taxable income. And given today’s interest rate environment and home values, in most places it’s still cheaper to own than rent.
Awareness of the VA Home Loan
Why don’t more women take advantage of the VA home loan when buying and financing real estate? That’s difficult to pinpoint. The VA home loan benefit has been in effect in various formats since 1944 so it’s not exactly a brand new program. Yet despite the benefit as well as tenure, a recent report by the Department of Veteran’s affairs indicated just 11 percent of all eligible veterans, male and female, took advantage of the VA home loan program.
Even the study released by the VA called “America’s Women Veterans: Military Service History and VA Benefit Utilization Statistics” in 2010 identifies the various benefits available to female veterans such as insurance and health care but makes no mention at all of utilization rates for VA home loans.
This is interesting because the very nature of the female veteran makes the perfect VA home loan borrower. Good credit, greater income and education all fall favorably to the women veterans when evaluating loan choices for a home purchase.
Not all mortgage companies however offer the VA home loan and not all loan officers know the program well enough and often steer clients away from a VA loan.
VA mortgages run by their own rules and unless a lender or loan officer is experienced with VA loans, many times the potential VA borrower is herded into a more familiar program such as an FHA loan. In this instance, it’s to the disadvantage of a female borrower when presented with every loan program on the market except for the VA loan.
When you stack up a VA loan compared to FHA, VA loans are the clear winner. If you are a woman looking to buy a home, be sure to get a quote in writing on estimated interest rate, payment, and closing costs of a VA home loan. If you sense resistance to VA loans from the loan officer, move on to a different lending company. Don’t even give that company the time of day!
It’s obvious there is no concerted campaign directed toward women veterans as it relates to VA mortgage programs when there needs to be. It doesn’t really matter where the promotional effort originates either just as long as some form of brand awareness is made.
Consider this our brand awareness effort!
The female veteran, a growing home purchasing segment of the population, should first look to the VA loan program when considering buying their home. There are simply too many advantages when using a VA loan to finance a property to ignore. Women veterans have the perfect loan program just waiting to be used.