The VA home loan, which may be the most auspicious benefit available to veterans, is putting vets into homes at a far greater rate than it was just one decade ago. According to Bloomberg news, VA loans accounted for eight percent of all first quarter mortgages this year, an increase from two percent in 2004. The VA home loan is popular because it allows vets the opportunity to purchase a home using a guaranteed loan, with low interest rates, relaxed underwriting guidelines, 100 percent financing and $0 down. Coupled with the benefit of this program is the sheer volume of military personnel entering into civilian life.
The Department of Veterans Affairs reports that 200,000 service members leave service every year. Estimating that within the five year block between 2011 and 2016 over a million will be discharged for the first time. Given these numbers, an important question arises, where should potential vets looking to become homeowners settle down? Last year, USAA and Military.com, compiled a list of the 10 most appealing cities for veterans to live. The list, aimed at young veterans aged 18-34 who served for only five years, named Pittsburgh the most desirable city for this segment of the veteran population.
The Steel City often goes overlooked, especially in comparison to other major metropolitan areas. Seemingly a curious choice, the city is absent a large military base or defense contractor, despite this, there are many compelling reasons why veterans new to civilian life would thrive in Pittsburgh.
Returning veterans face many challenges, including but not limited to: high rates of unemployment and homelessness. With an unemployment rate of 7.1 percent (almost a full percentage point below the national rate), low median home prices as well as low median rents ($107,000 & $685 per two bedroom rental) Pittsburgh looks idyllic. Factors taken into account by Military.com and USAA included the volume of federal government jobs, recent job growth, economic stability, affordability, number of military skill-related jobs, health resources and the presence of colleges and universities.
Often, veterans struggle to adjust to civilian life with many citing a lack of transferable vocational skills. Vets looking for new opportunities and to take advantage of the Veterans Education Assistance Act could find academic offerings at Carnegie Mellon, Duquesne as well as the University of Pittsburgh.
Buying a home is an enormous life decision. Making sure that you wind up in the right place is tantamount, especially for young people at the beginning of their lives eager to start a family. Stability is conducive to success. Pittsburgh offers stabilizing forces, boasting quality education, a strong local economy and affordable housing.
VA Home Loan Centers, a VA sponsored lender strives to help veterans, active duty personnel and their family members achieve the American Dream of home ownership.
For more information about applying for a VA loan, visit http://www.vahomeloancenters.org/