More local veterans using VA loans to buy homes

NOW: More local veterans using VA loans to buy homes

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The number of veterans taking advantage of VA purchase loans to buy a home is soaring according to new data.

New statistics from the Veterans Administration show the number of those loans jumped 59 percent across the country over the past five years, but in Indiana the number of new home and refinance loans surged by 72 percent in Indiana.

In South Bend, that number is even higher: loans rose 96 percent from FY 2013 to FY2018.

James Cross is a South Bend father and veteran.

While most people dread shoveling snow this time of year, he doesn’t mind. That’s because this is the first time in his 57 years he’s actually had a place that required housework like shoveling the snow.

“I had been renting for a long time,” said Cross.

In October, Cross bought his first home, a cozy, two bedroom on the west side of South Bend.

“I was looking for something small, easy to maintain, and a nice yard,” said Cross. “I was able to find this house and I loved it. I thought it was perfect for me.”

A VA purchase loan helped James secure the place. He served in the Army from 1979 to 1982. These loans allow qualified veterans to buy with no money down, no private mortgage insurance, and more flexible credit guidelines.

“It’s great because it gives you something,” said Cross. “It’s yours and it gives the veteran a sense of self worth”

Veterans must meet service length requirements, have a good credit score, sufficient income, and a certificate of eligibility to qualify for a VA home loan.

“There’s been a growth in awareness of this program,” said Veterans United Director of Education Chris Birk. “They’re seeing how it plays out in the marketplace. It’s also becoming increasingly appealing as veterans look at all of their home financing options.”

Birk add military service can make it hard on a servicemembers’ finances and their ability to build credit.

“This is helping veterans get a foothold in places across the country and places like South Bend where they’re really looking to put down roots,” said Birk.

“Take advantage of it,” said Cross. “You served your country, you have that, you have that privilege.”

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