Living a life on active duty in the armed forces can be a rough life. Changing orders requiring frequent relocation are a way of life for some assignments, as are living in barracks or other on-base housing for extended periods of time.
But those that are able to transition from active duty back to civilian life face some challenging aspects of that transition—namely housing: where to find it and how to finance it.
Knowing of some of challenges behind transitions to civilian careers, Freddie Mac has issued the results of a new survey from just under 2,000 active-duty servicemembers to understand the perceptions of active-duty military service members (and spouses) when it comes to home renting, ownerships, and financing (specifically VA loans). Other tracked information collected is their branch of service, gender, income, region, and urbanicity. The survey attempts to be representative of the armed forces as a whole.
At the outset, the largest finding the survey revealed is that 87% of active-duty servicemembers are aware of the benefits of VA loans. Furthermore, 90% who are currently renting plan to utilize a VA loan to buy a home in the future.
“The ability to find affordable housing in the current market is seen as a major challenge facing those transitioning from active duty,” said Stacy Walker, Director, Housing & Community Outreach for Freddie Mac. “The great news is that there are outstanding housing benefits available to veterans and the majority of those who want to buy a home plan to use them.”
“To aid that effort, Freddie Mac is focused on education and outreach through a VA Home Loans guide and a CreditSmart [certified] financial education program tailored specifically for members of the military and veterans.”
In addition, Freddie Mac has partnered with non-profit Soldier On, which has committed itself to ending veteran homelessness, in order to better engage with veterans using financial materials and tailored outreach programs.
“The transition to civilian life can be a challenge,” said David Ramirez, Home and Credit Financial Education Program Manager for Soldier On. “The CreditSmart curriculum is helping us create a culture of financial readiness that provides veterans with the tools they need to be successful in their civilian life.”
Other key findings include:
- Homeownership rates among those surveyed are disproportionately high at 73%, compared with 65% for the general population (according to the U.S. Census Bureau).
- Of those surveyed, 92% are aware of VA Home Loans. 87% of active-duty respondents are aware of the benefit.
- Just 57% of current homeowners who responded to the poll are aware of the benefits of a VA Home Loan and have used it to buy a home in the past.
- Of those who currently rent, more than 8 in 10 who plan to purchase a home intend to use a VA Home Loan to do so. Nine in 10 active-duty respondents plan to use the benefit.
- Eighty percent of those who used a VA Home Loan had a favorable experience, citing the lack of a down payment and low closing costs as key features of the mortgage product.
Click here to view the findings of the survey in their entirety.