Home Prices: Army Housing Buoys El Paso

In celebration of Veterans Day, HousingWatch is featuring stories about veterans and their real estate experiences throughout the day.

This Veterans Day we can thank the military for something else besides keeping our country safe: rescuing a depressed housing market.

The expansion of the Fort Bliss Army base in El Paso, Texas has sparked a local building boom and kept the town from falling into the depths of the recession. While the rest of the country has seen home prices fall an average of 20 percent since the peak of the housing runup, prices in the West Texas town have held steady.

And El Paso's not alone. The government's 2005 base closure and realignment program, while it weakened some communities, breathed new life into others. The transfer of thousands of military personnel to Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County, Md., is expected to spark as much as $61 million in new construction spending, according to an Army study released last spring.
Similar effects are being felt in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Washington State, as bases overseas close and soldiers return home. In Fayetteville, N.C., the expansion of Fort Bragg is credited with keeping the housing market
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stable from the gyrations of the past couple of years. "Because of Fort Bragg, we didn't drop like the rest of the nation, nor did we ever go through the roof," Realtor David Evans told USA Today.

When they get back stateside, those returning soldiers can take advantage of the homebuyer tax credit, which, while it has expired for the general population, is still available to active-duty military personnel returning from overseas. (Also see "VA Loans: Homebuying Help for Veterans")

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