The VA Loan Program, which enables military veterans to obtain housing loans, has just marked its 75th anniversary.

Chris Birk, director of education at lender Veterans United Home Loans, says continued low rates this year have helped vets jump on board, spurring a loan activity spike.

"Veterans and military families throughout New Jersey are turning to this benefit really like never before," he said.

Birk is the author of "The Book on VA Loans: An Essential Guide to Maximizing Your Home Loan Benefits."

"I think heading into this year, there's a lot of uncertainty about rates were heading," he said. "They've stayed down and that's encouraged a lot of veterans and military members to look at their options again."

VA loan usage this year is up 130% in Atlantic City, 45% in Trenton and 76% in Newark. Ocean City had a 48% increase. Camden saw a 67% increase in loan activity.

The program has seen increases in four of the past six years.

VA loans represented about 2% of the mortgage market before the housing crash 10 years ago. Now the loans are almost 12% of that market.

But there are still so many veterans out there who don't know this benefit is out there or they don't really understand how it works in the marketplace. Birk says that with no down payment, low rates and flexible and forgiving credit requirements, VA loans are among the most powerful loan products on the market.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5