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Honoring veterans through mortgage assistance


Veteran home buyersVeterans Day is a national holiday set aside to honor all veterans, both living and dead. In keeping with the tradition of honoring those who have served our country, states nationwide have developed home-buying programs specifically designed for veterans.

This slideshow looks at the 10 states with the largest population of veterans and examines which state-specific home-buying programs are available to veterans.

While some states have home-buying programs geared specifically toward veterans, many of the statewide purchasing programs designed for first-time buyers are also made available to veterans. States have various qualification standards for their individual mortgage programs, many of which require veterans to attend homebuyer education courses.

The struggles of returning veterans are well documented, so providing affordable financing for veterans has been a top priority for all 50 states. As the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs’ website says, “As a military veteran you protected the American Dream. Now is your opportunity to live it.”  

CaliforniaHomebuyer program(s): In California, all of the state’s buying programs geared toward first-time buyers are also applicable to veterans. California boasts several buyer programs, ranging from FHA-insured purchase loans which can be combined with the state’s down-payment-assistance loan, to Mortgage Credit Certificates, to discounts to buyers who purchase homes and make energy-efficient improvements.

California’s purchase programs include CalPLUS Loan Program, CalHFA FHA Loan Program, California Homebuyer's Downpayment Assistance Program (CHDAP), Mortgage Credit Certificate Tax Credit Program (MCC), Individual Development Accounts, Utility Energy Efficiency & Solar Programs, and the Weatherization Assistance Program.

Veteran population:  1,844,803

Notable military bases in state: Edwards AFB, Camp Pendleton (Marine Corps), Naval Base Coronado

Veterans: Now that you’re aware of the purchase programs in your state, view current VA mortgage rates in your area.

Average home price: $517,086

TexasHomebuyer program(s): The My First Texas Home program and Mortgage Credit Certificates are available to first-time buyers and veterans alike. Combined, these two programs offer veterans a mortgage with a “competitive” interest rate, down payment and closing cost assistance, and tax advantages. Both programs are available to veterans statewide.

Veteran population: 1,675,689

Notable military bases in state: Lackland AFB, Fort Bliss (Army), Fort Hood (Army),

Average home price: $166,211

FloridaHomebuyer program(s): Veterans are treated as first-time buyers in the state of Florida as well. Florida, like many states, offers qualified first-time buyers “fixed, low-interest rate mortgage loans.” In addition, a Mortgage Credit Certificate can be combined with a Florida Housing Finance Corporation loan to help homebuyers save on their annual taxes. Closing cost and down payment assistance is also available, but is offered by local, county or city governments.

Veteran population: 1,543,496

Notable military bases in state: Eglin AFB, MacDill AFB, Naval Air Station Pensacola

Average home price: $167,670

PennsylvaniaHomebuyer program(s): The state of Pennsylvania doesn’t limit its purchase loan programs to first-time homebuyers or veterans, but requires that you do “not have an ownership interest in any other residential dwelling at the time of loan closing.” Like every state, Pennsylvania requires that you meet specific requirements in order to qualify.

HFA Preferred Risk Sharing and HFA Preferred are two loan programs available to veterans that either eliminate the need for mortgage insurance or make it easier to obtain, allowing veterans to pay a lower monthly payment. The Keystone Advantage Assistance Loan program provides down payment assistance in conjunction with the two HFA programs. Lastly, veterans can combine the Keystone Advantage Assistance Loan with a Mortgage Credit Certificate to help alleviate tax costs.

Veteran population: 980,529

Notable military bases in state: Tobyhanna Army Depot, Navy Station Mechanicsburg

Veterans: Now that you’re aware of the purchase programs in your state, view current VA mortgage rates in your area.

Average home price: $211,550

New YorkHomebuyer program(s): Unlike some states, New York has a purchase program--the Home for Veterans Program--specifically designated for veterans. The program allows vets to apply for any of New York’s first-time buyer programs but with “more favorable terms.” New York’s loan programs for qualified veterans include Remodel New York, Achieving the Dream, Construction Incentive Program and Low Interest Rate Program.

New York also has a program called the Conventional Plus Program, which offers a fixed-rate, 30-year mortgage and down payment assistance to first-time and repeat homebuyers alike. This program is available for purchases and refinances on primary residences.

Veteran population: 918,093

Notable military bases in state: Fort Drum, U.S. Military Academy, Saratoga Springs Navy Base

Average home price: $251,442

OhioHomebuyer program(s): The state of Ohio offers seven different loan programs to help veterans achieve the American dream. The programs range from purchasing homes in “federally designated target areas” to “Hero” loans that have an interest rate 0.25 percent below the interest rate offered on other Ohio Housing Finance Agency loan products, down payment and closing cost assistance, an all-encompassing loan program for recent college grads (offers interest rate, down payment and closing cost assistance), Mortgage Credit Certificates, and two programs that assist buyers in purchasing homes that need repairs. 

Veteran population: 899,615

Notable military bases in state: Wright-Patterson AFB, Cleveland Coast Guard

Average home price: $120,600

VirginiaHomebuyer program(s): The state of Virginia has three programs targeted to help homebuyers:

  1. The Down Payment Assistance (DPA) program provides “flexible gap financing” to low-income first-time buyers
  2. The localized Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) is designed to encourage Virginians to purchase and rehabilitate vacant or foreclosed properties
  3. The Virginia Individual Development Account (VIDA) encourages individuals to save for a specific reason, including homeownership or business development

Only one program – the Down Payment Assistance program – is aimed at first-time homebuyers. Veterans aren’t singled out for this program, but they will qualify if they meet the program’s qualifications and guidelines.

Veteran population: 837,051

Notable military bases in state: Langley AFB, Fort Belvoir, Fort Eustis, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Naval Station Norfolk

Average home price: $296,500

GeorgiaHomebuyer program(s): The Georgia Dream Homeownership Program provides a 30-year fixed-rate first mortgage to first-time homebuyers statewide. If you qualify for this program, you’re also eligible for down payment assistance.

Georgia offers first-time homebuyers three down payment options:

  1. The “Standard” option provides buyers with $5,000 in assistance
  2. The “Pen” option offers “home buyers who are employed in qualified public protection, military, health care or education” with $7,500 in assistance, and
  3. The “Choice” option provides buyers whose household includes an individual living with a disability the chance to qualify for $7,500 toward a down payment.

The “Pen” down payment option was the only military reference we came across on the Georgia Department of Community Affairs website. Veterans should contact Georgia’s Office of Homeownership to determine if the programs listed above pertain to veterans and first-time buyers alike. 

Veteran population: 776,205

Notable military bases in state: Moody AFB, Robins AFB, Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort McPherson, Kings Bay Submarine Base

Average home price: $145,900

North CarolinaHomebuyer program(s): The N.C. Home Advantage Mortgage “offers competitive interest rates along with down payment assistance up to 3 percent of the mortgage loan amount – fully forgiven after 15 years – for first-time and move-up buyers.” Qualified borrowers can also apply for a second mortgage to help with the down payment and closing costs. First-time buyers can utilize a Mortgage Credit Certificate to save up to $2,000 a year on federal taxes.

While the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency website doesn’t mention veterans specifically, the Home Advantage Mortgage is available for FHA, VA and USDA mortgages.

Veteran population: 771,654

Notable military bases in state:  Pope AFB, Fort Bragg, National Strike Force Coast Guard Base, Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base

Veterans: Now that you’re aware of the purchase programs in your state, view current VA mortgage rates in your area.

Average home price: $171,486

IllinoisHomebuyer program(s): In addition to the SmartMove Trio program, which offers first-time buyers “an affordable” 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, up to $6,000 for down payment and closing cost assistance, and a federal tax credit, Illinois’s Welcome Home Heroes program offers veterans up to $10,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (including FHA, Conventional, VA, and USDA) with a “competitive” interest rate, and a federal tax credit which can reduce the federal tax liability by up to $18,000 over the life of the loan.

Veteran population: 764,203

Notable military bases in state: Scott AFB, Rock Island Arsenal (Army base), Great Lakes Training Center (Navy)

Average home price: $130,710

Populations: http://www.va.gov/vetdata/Veteran_Population.asp

California: http://www.calhfa.ca.gov/homebuyer/programs/index.htm

Texas: http://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/homeownership/fthb/index.htm

Florida: http://apps.floridahousing.org/StandAlone/FHFC_ECM/ContentPage.aspx?PAGE=0045

Pennsylvania: http://www.phfa.org/consumers/homebuyers/hfaprograms.aspx

New York: http://www.nyshcr.org/Topics/Home/Buyers/SONYMA/SONYMAProductsforFirstTimeHomebuyers.htm

Ohio: http://www.ohiohome.org/homebuyer/default.aspx

Virginia: http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/index.php/housing-programs-and-assistance/homeowner-and-homebuyer-assistance/homebuyer-assistance.html

Georgia: http://www.dca.state.ga.us/housing/Homeownership/programs/RUHomeBuyer.asp

North Carolina: http://www.nchfa.com/Homebuyers/HBwhatweoffer.aspx

Illinois: http://www.ihda.org/homeowner/gettingLoan.htm

Home prices: http://www.realtor.org/sites/default/files/reports/2013/embargoes/2013-q3-metro-home-prices-ybmhybmhiltp/metro-home-prices-q3-2013-single-family-2013-11-06.pdf

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