Veterans have earned extra housing support, benefits

Jan Stapleton - 2023 NETAR President

Today, Saturday, Nov. 11, is set aside to honor veterans, past and present. Veterans are an important part of the local population and of the local housing economy. 

2023 NETAR President
Association Spokesperson

So, the Census veterans’ status update offers insights worthy of review. 

There are 33,994 veterans in the Tri-Cities Combined Statistical Area (CSA). That region includes Carter, Washington, Unicoi, Sullivan, and Hawkins counties in NE TN. Scott and Washington counties in SW VA plus Bristol VA.  

Veterans account for 8% of the CSA’s population. That’s an under-count because the numbers for Greene and Johnson counties won’t be available until next month. The number is down from the previous level of 10% because the ranks of the World War 11 vets are rapidly thinning. Last year there were only 142 of them. The death rate is also mustering out the number of Korean War vets (1,241) at an increasing pace. Ditto for the region’s largest vet component – the Vietnam era vets (14,161).  

The counterbalance to this trend is our region is a popular destination for vets and those who want to relocate from other areas. 

As a group, vets are older than the local civilian population. About 57% of them are 65 or older. That age group accounts for almost 25% of the civilian population. Since they are older, vets account for a smaller share of the local labor force participation rate. It’s 64% for vets and 73% for civilians. 

One of the big differences is vets have a higher education level and median income. The median income of male vets is $41,185. It’s $44,458 for female vets. The civilian median income is $37,033 for males and $24,121 for females.  

Better than one in three vets has some college or an associate degree compared to 29% of local civilians. Those with a bachelor’s degree or higher account for 27% of the vet population compared to 26% of the civilians. 

They also have a higher homeownership rate, which brings us to their place in the housing market. One of the first things to remember is the Veterans Administration does not make home loans. The loans are made by banks – often at a lower interest rate – and guaranteed by the VA.  

A good place to start is with the basics of how VA loans stack up in the sales and home price data. 

So far this year, 454 homes have been bought with VA loans. That’s 7% of the January-October existing single-family and condo sales. Data for those who bought new homes isn’t available. 

This year’s veteran home loan sales total $151 million. That’s almost 8% of the region’s total single-family existing home sales volume. 

The typical VA loan sale is in the $300K-to-$350K price range. But some are for less. Others are for more. Twelve of last month’s VA loan sales were for $400K or more. The most expensive was $654,950. And not all purchases have to be for single-family homes. 

There’s no way around the fact that working with a VA loan is different than working other loan products. The language, benefits, and requirements are specific to the VA. 

Real estate professionals can honor military veterans by getting educated about how VA financing works. This knowledge will help agents bust pervasive myths that sometimes put military home buyers at a disadvantage in the transaction. The Military Relocation Specialists designation is the industry standard for Realtors® who want to step up their game. 

Since the VA loan program’s inception in 1944, the Department of Veterans Affairs has backed over 21 million loans for veterans, active-duty military members, and their spouses. This program has made buying a home more accessible to those who most deserve the American dream they helped build and protect. 

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,800+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at