Record Year for VA Loans Creates Opportunities for Realtors
Florida Realtors’ economist: Florida celebrates Veteran’s Day today and all year. In 2020 so far, Fla. moved up a spot in VA loan rankings (to No. 2) after passing Texas. Across the U.S., the number of VA-backed loans has nearly doubled, with refinances leading the surge.
ORLANDO, Fla – Lending terms can make or break one’s ability to purchase a home. Realtors who understand the process are better equipped to handle any consumer who needs guidance.
One option for service members and veterans is the Veterans Administration (VA) home loan guaranty program. The Department of Veteran Affairs released a preliminary tally of their fiscal year 2020 data, starting Oct.1, 2019, and ending Sept. 30, 2020. Like most aspects of this year, the findings were unprecedented.
Loan volume doubled in 2020
Nationwide, total VA guaranteed loans nearly doubled. Florida shares a similar story, increasing from over 56,000 in 2019 to around 106,000 in 2020. The home loan guaranty program provides a range of opportunities, helping veterans with new and existing home purchases, refinancing and cashing-out equity to use for other expenses. The notable growth in both the number of loans and dollar volume varied greatly among categories.
Refinances surge, mirroring conventional mortgages
It comes as no surprise to anyone hearing yet another announcement of mortgage rates continuing at record-low levels that consumers are pursuing the refinance option to save on their monthly mortgage payments. Doubling pales in comparison to the six-fold increase seen nationwide in the Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan (IRRRL) category, used for refinancing existing VA guaranteed loans at a lower interest rate.
Florida gains were likewise fueled by a 650% increase in refinancing. To provide a different perspective, the IRRRL category generally represents a quarter or less of Florida’s total VA-backed loans each year – yet in 2020 it nearly accounted for half of them.
Purchase loans grew strongly
Not to be left out, total purchase loans used to buy, build or improve a newly bought home were up over 11% nationally. According to available state-level data, purchase loans have steadily increased each year since 2015 in Florida. The trend continued in 2020 with a nearly 12% increase.
Florida’s popularity and what it means
Florida tends to rank third: third most populous state, third most military bases and the third most popular state for veterans to reside in, following California and Texas. This year, the state pushed ahead of Texas with the second-highest number of VA guaranteed loans.
Five Florida counties had over 2,000 purchase loans this year:
- Hillsborough: 3,626 (up 34% year-over-year)
- Duval: 3,292 (up 12%)
- Okaloosa: 2,787 (up 14%)
- Santa Rosa: 2,131 (up 21%)
- Brevard: 2,126 (up 7%)
The popularity of VA loans isn’t limited to those counties. Florida strives to be a military-friendly state and will continue attracting veterans here to live and work. For Realtors, it is important to understand which buyers are eligible and how to guide them through the process.
Florida Realtors® Professional Development team offers continuing education (CE) credit for Navigating the VA Sales Process, or consider obtaining the National Association of Realtors® Military Relocation Professional designation to open doors to new customers.
Erica Plemmons is an economist and Florida Realtors Director of Housing Statistics
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