The number of Americans applying for home loans through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has skyrocketed during the coronavirus, according to new data from the agency, adding more evidence that real estate has had an unprecedented run of late.

The data shows that during the third quarter of of 2020 — which includes the pandemic-plagued months of April, May and June — the VA issued 331,071 loans. That’s up from just 155,685 during the same period in 2019, meaning the agency’s loan activity rose by nearly 113 percent year over year.

Broken down by generation, the number of VA loans made to millennials jumped by more than 95 percent year over year between April and June, and loans to baby boomers rose more than 120 percent. Loans to members of Generation X rose by more than 125 percent during that same period, while loans to members of Generation Z rose by nearly 178 percent.

Refinancing loans made up a significant portion of that growth; according to the new data, the VA saw a 296 percent year-over-year increase in loans for refinancing during the third quarter of fiscal 2020. Millennials were apparently the most interested in refinancing, with loans issued to members of that demographic growing by 463 percent year over year.

The top metro areas for VA loan growth during the pandemic have been Honolulu, San Diego, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.


Writing about the findings, Chris Birk — the VA’s director of education — wrote last week that “while the coronavirus has slowed the process of securing a VA loan in some places, the pandemic did little to tamp down demand in the weeks and months that followed.”

Credit: Chris Birk

That conclusion is in keeping with numerous other observations that real estate has seen significant resilience in recent months, despite an otherwise struggling economy. Among other things, agents have described extremely active markets, industry leaders have expressed optimism and bidding wars have become the rule rather than the exception in markets across the country.

In the mortgage market specifically, a report this week from Attom Data Solutions revealed that broadly in the U.S. refinances reached their highest rate in seven years between April and June.

There is still reason for caution as the coronavirus crisis continues, but at least for now, it’s no wonder Birk described the VA loans program as “quietly having a record year.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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