As our nation honors those who served in the armed forces, today marks a good opportunity to look at housing statistics concerning veterans. Having a higher homeownership rate than the nation as a whole, veterans also make up a notable share of the new home sales market.
According to the Census Bureau’s latest figures from the American Community Survey, there are over 21 million veterans. Veterans account for nearly 9% of the civilian population over the age of 18. Approximately 30% of all veterans served during the Gulf War era (1990 to present).
Veterans account for a higher share of the population in some states than in others. In Alaska, for example, veterans are 13.6% of the civilian population over the age of 18. In New York, veterans are only 5.8% of the civilian population over the age of 18.
From analysis of the 2012 American Community Survey, it is estimated that 77.5% of veterans are homeowners. The national homeownership rate in the most recent quarter was 65.1%.
From the perspective of the home building sector, in the second quarter of 2013, loans for new homes sold backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA loans) made up 7% of the entire market. Since not all veterans use VA loans and some purchases are cash sales, a reasonable estimate is that veterans make up at least 10% of the market for new homes.
Many programs are in place to help veterans realize the dream of home ownership. At the national level, the VA program helps eligible veterans purchase homes. Because the VA guarantees a portion of home loans provided by private lenders, more favorable terms are often available for eligible veterans.
In fiscal year 2012, the program experienced a significant increase in the number of loans and total loan volume. The number or loans increased by over 180,000, or 50%, as many veterans took advantage of the program to refinance at historically low mortgage interest rates.
Additional housing programs are available for veterans at the state level. For example, forty-four states offer residential property tax relief programs for veterans. These programs reduce the cost of homeownership by offering tax benefits that lower real estate tax bills. The relief is typically provided in the form of an exemption.
Exemptions reduce the market, equalized, or assessed value on which the state levies the real property tax bill. In New Mexico, for example, the benefit is an exemption of $4,000 of the taxable value of the property. Therefore, the taxable value on a $100,000 home is lowered to $96,000.
A list of veteran tax relief programs by state is provided at the link below. The programs were identified by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and George Washington Institute of Public Policy. For a full description of benefits and eligibility requirements, please contact your local property tax officials.