For military families, VA loans are a lifeline, but with a trap

The O’Farrells paid $ 290,000 for their current home, more than $ 40,000 more than the original listing price. Mr. O’Farrell thought he overpaid, but had no other choice.

“A lot of veterans are left out of the process because they can’t compete,” said Deonte Cole, a retired Marine Corps veteran who now works as a broker in Tampa, Fla. “We have a surplus of loans and volunteer veterans who are not able to find housing at the moment. The sellers are trying to get the best deals they can and they don’t see the VA loan as competitive.

There is a growing division between civilians and military in the United States. According to a Pew Research Center survey, only 33% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have an immediate family member who served in the military, compared to 79% of Americans between the ages of 50 and 64.

And when members of the armed forces have to relocate while on active duty, the divide can be economically devastating.

“This market is an absolute nightmare for military families,” said Georganne Hassell, a veteran whose husband is currently in the Air Force. The two have toured Afghanistan and currently live in Ogden, Utah. “A lot of people don’t have a close connection to a military family, and a better understanding on the part of Americans about these challenges would be helpful for our country,” she said.

Ms Hassell and her husband bought a home in Ogden in June 2020 and are preparing for another move across the country in a few months. This time around, in the hope that it will make them more competitive, they are considering a conventional loan.

“A huge percentage of the American population has not been in service,” she said. “The VA loan is just another unknown, and people tend to look to what they know. But at the end of the day, the military decides where we live. The military isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life, and moving is part of it.

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