El Paso a top city for VA loan growth

El Paso News

VA loan US Department of Veterans Affairs documents, flag and a key to a home.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Purchasing a home is not the usual next step for those planning on retirement, but for El Pasoan Jennifer Torres, low interest rates and an affordable housing market were just too good to pass up.

She closed on the home in May and plans to be medically retired soon. Torres purchased her home with a VA loan.

“The low interest rate, not having to have a downpayment, especially as a single parent, I mean, I don’t have a ton of extra money,” said Torres, who currently serves in the National Guard on active duty orders. “So a VA loan, you know, enabled me to actually buy a home. This is our first home and I’m just proud of myself to be able to have the opportunity to do that.”

With a large military population, Torres is one of the thousands of veterans, active service members and military spouse to purchase or refinance a home in El Paso in 2021 with a VA loan. The Sun City ranked fifth in the nation for VA loan growth for the first part of the year, following Honolulu, the Washington, D.C.-metro area, Baltimore and Fayetteville, N.C.

With 3,058 loans so far this year, VA home loans were up 75 percent year-over-year for the first half of 2021, up from 2020, when there were 1,740 loans, according to mortgage lender Veterans United Home Loans.

The rise has less to do with pandemic buying and more with low interest rates, said Chris Birk, vice president of mortgage insight and director of education at Veterans United.

“I think a big part of the growth in El Paso, and really across the country, has just been historically low interest rates. Veterans have access to the lowest average interest rates on the market because of their VA loan benefit.”

Torres said she decided to purchase a home with a VA loan, which provided good terms for her to buy. VA loans are available to service members, veterans and even surviving spouses in some cases. These loans are especially advantageous because they do not require a downpayment or private mortgage insurance (PMI is usually required when less than 20 percent is put down on a home loan).

She said she relocated to Horizon from Pampa, Texas, located in the Panhandle, because she found a good job opportunity in the Sun City. Raising two children on her own, she made the move to also give them more opportunities and she encourages other servicemembers and vets to look into VA home loans.

“There are a lot of benefits for veterans, even if they’re not disabled, to make it so much easier, cost-wise, to just be able to purchase a home, especially for first-time homebuyers.”

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