VA loan program empowering women veterans of color, even in rocky housing market

San Antonio veteran uses VA loan to purchase home for her Gold Star family

SAN ANTONIO – Marisol Deck met the love of her life in the Air Force.

She served for almost four years and Master Sgt. Christopher Robert Deck served for 22 years, until he passed away one year ago.

“The last couple years before he passed, that’s all we would talk about. We want to go to Texas, we’re going to retire, we’re going to finally own a house,” Deck said.

Two months ago she made that dream come true for her four kids, in honor of their dad.

She did it all through the VA loan program, which offers the lowest average interest rates on the market, the option for no down payment, and wiggle room for those who don’t have top-tier credit.

The VA Loan was created in 1944 as part of the original GI Bill of Rights that President Roosevelt signed into law.

The program is turning 80 years old in the coming years and has helped over 25 million veterans secure home loans over the years.

“The VA Loan has grown incredibly over the last 15 years. This was historically about 2 percent of the mortgage market. Today it’s about 12 percent,” said Chris Birk, the VP of Mortgage Insight for Veterans United Home Loans.

Birk said despite the incentives, the market over the past couple of years has been tough on veterans.

“We’ve seen so many home sellers who won’t even accept a VA offer. They’re looking for cash offers, they’re looking for conventional offers,” Birk said.

He said that’s due to a lack of knowledge on the part of civilian sellers and real estate agents.

“A lot of it is breaking down misconceptions and myths about this product. They think it’s going to take forever to close, or the veterans aren’t well-positioned buyers who won’t make it to close,” Birk said.

However, he said VA loans are actually more likely to close than any other type of loan.

“So they’re actually an incredibly safe bet for both home sellers and their real estate agents,” Birk explained.

Though the VA loans don’t require down payments, Deck put one down anyway to stay competitive and it worked in her favor.

“I was nervous. There were three other bids on this house and I was very lucky,” Deck said.

Birk said recent rate hikes have actually helped the veterans utilizing these loans.

“Especially over the last few months have led to a little bit of a decrease in demand,” he said.

That’s helpful for the continued growth of a specific veteran homeowner population: women of color.

Veterans United reports that from 2018 - 2021:

  • VA home loan usage for African American and Black Veterans increased by 23% from 2018 to 2021
  • VA home loans among female Veterans grew by almost 35%
  • The Hispanic and Latino Veteran homeownership rate is over 18 percentage points higher compared to their civilian counterparts

“It feels good. A proud Latina, you know, I did it on my own and served my country,” Deck said.

“We’re seeing generational change for veterans and military families of color,” Birk said. “They’re using this benefit to become homeowners and create generational wealth for their families.”

Deck said the loans level the playing field for the most deserving Americans and she hopes more of her military peers will take advantage of it.

“A lot of people don’t know about it. Get out there and get the information, and get educated about your benefits,” she said.

Veterans United has information about the VA Loan program and eligibility on its website.

About the Author:

Courtney Friedman anchors KSAT’s weekend evening shows and reports during the week. Her ongoing Loving in Fear series confronts Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She joined KSAT in 2014 and is proud to call the SA and South Texas community home. She came to San Antonio from KYTX CBS 19 in Tyler, where she also anchored & reported.