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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Releases Report on First-time Homebuying Servicemembers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a report focusing on mortgages made to first-time homebuyers who are serving in the armed forces or are veterans. The Bureau’s report is the first time researchers have been able to provide a description and analysis of servicemembers’ mortgage choices and mortgage performance, both during and after the housing crisis of the last decade.  

When buying a house, servicemembers—defined here to include both those on active duty and veterans—have the option of taking out a home loan that is partially guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). VA-guaranteed home loans differ from other mortgages in several ways including allowing a purchase with no down payment and without mortgage insurance. Servicemembers may also choose other mortgage products, including conventional loans or loans by a different government agency.

Today’s report spans the years leading up to and after the housing crisis. Among the key findings:

  • The share of first-time homebuying servicemembers using VA mortgages increased from 30 percent before 2007 to 63 percent in 2009. Among non-servicemember first-time homebuyers there was a parallel increase in the use of FHA and USDA mortgages. However, whereas non-servicemembers’ reliance on FHA/USDA mortgages declined after 2009, servicemembers’ reliance on VA loans continued to increase. In 2016, 78 percent of servicemember loans were VA loans.
  • The greater share of VA loans among servicemembers was part of a larger shift among consumers (both servicemembers and non-servicemembers) away from conventional to government-guaranteed mortgages between 2006 and 2009. Conventional mortgages—that is, non-government-guaranteed mortgages—were about 60 percent of loans among first-time homebuying servicemembers in 2006 and 2007, but this share declined to 13 percent by 2016. By comparison, the conventional loan share among non-servicemembers fell from almost 90 percent before 2008 to 41 percent in 2009, then increased back to 60 percent in 2016. The combined share of FHA and USDA mortgages to these borrowers increased and then decreased accordingly.
  • The median loan amount for first-time homebuying servicemembers with a VA loan increased in nominal dollars from $156,000 in 2006 to $212,000 in 2016, closely tracking the median value of conventional home loans taken out by non-servicemembers. By contrast, the median loan amounts in nominal dollars for servicemembers who used conventional or FHA/USDA mortgages during this period were lower in value compared to VA loans and increased at a slower pace, growing from $130,000 in 2006 to $150,000 in 2016. 

The Quarterly Consumer Credit Trends report, “Mortgages to First-time Homebuying Servicemembers,” is available at: https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_consumer-credit-trends_first-time-homebuying-servicemember-mortgages_022019.pdf

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by regularly identifying and addressing outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome regulations, by making rules more effective, by consistently enforcing federal consumer financial law, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit consumerfinance.gov.