Where Are Veterans Buying Homes?

Thomas Short
Military VA Loan contributor

Homes are bought every day around the country using the VA loan. Even in the current housing shortage, veterans and active duty military members are still finding homes to purchase.

Of course, some areas are going to be easier to buy a home in than others, and some places have more homes available for people to buy.

But where are veterans buying homes?

Fortunately, the VA keeps track of all mortgages processed through their system. A recent data series was released by the VA showing the counties with the most VA loans, IRRRLs and cash-out refinances. It sheds a little light on where the most popular spots for veterans to buy a home are.

Click to check today’s VA rates.

The most popular spots for veterans to buy a home

The VA took data from all 3,076 counties that process some type of VA mortgage product between 10/01/2017 – 5/31/2018. In that period (what is just about half a year), the VA closed a total of 411,282 loans. Of those, 236,501 were purchase loans. That means that veterans are on pace to purchase over 500,000 homes using the VA loan in a one-year period.

The VA breaks it down further, showing how many of each mortgage product were used in each county. Here were the top 10 for purchase loans:

  1. Maricopa, Arizona – 4,850
  2. Bexar, Texas – 3,899
  3. El Paso, Colorado – 3,822
  4. San Diego, California – 3,792
  5. Clark, Nevada – 3,297
  6. Riverside, California – 2,591
  7. Pierce, Washington – 2,083
  8. Hillsborough, Florida – 2,018
  9. Harris, Texas – 1,981
  10. Tarrant, Texas – 1,839

Based on the data, veterans are mostly moving west or to Texas, with three of the top 10 counties being in Texas. Aside from that, the west coast (California and Washington) has three as well, with Nevada, Arizona and Colorado being popular picks.

Unsurprisingly, Florida was also a popular spot for veterans to buy a home. Not only is Florida a traditional retirement spot, but it also has affordable housing relative to some of the other counties on this list.

What’s interesting is that a lot of veterans are moving to areas with big cities. San Diego is a larger city, and Clark, Nevada is home to Las Vegas.

Cash-out refinance loans prove popular

Along with purchase loans, the VA offers two types of refinances: the IRRRL and the cash-out refinance. Of the two, the cash-out refinance proved to be much more popular with 112,594 refinances closing during the same period, as compared to 62,187 for IRRRL.

Cash-out refinances are different from IRRRL for a few reasons. First, veteran homeowners are allowed to take cash out of their equity and use it for whatever they want – be it a renovation, a new boat or even a vacation.

Second, cash-out refinances are available to all veterans, even if they didn’t use a VA loan to purchase their house.

Also, many veterans that have lived in their house for over 10 years may be able to reduce their mortgage rate as well, saving on monthly payments. There are a variety of reasons that veterans get refinances, but cash-out proves to be the most popular.

Click to check today’s cash-out refi rates.