William Pitt Sotheby's Int'l
Kristi Vaughan, William Pitt Sotheby's Int'l
Email: [email protected]

USDA Loans FAQs

by Kristi Vaughan 12/31/2018

The US government has been helping Americans achieve their goal of homeownership for decades. Through programs offered by the Federal Housing Authority, the USDA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, millions of Americans have been able to afford a home who would have otherwise struggled.

The focus of today’s post is one such service: loans offered through the USDA Rural Development program.

If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future but are worried about being able to save up enough for a down payment or build your credit score in time, USDA loans could be a viable option.

Let’s take a look at some of the common questions people have about USDA loans:

Do I have to live in the middle of nowhere to get a USDA loan?

The short answer is “no.” rural development loan eligibility for your area is laid out on a map provided by the USDA. Most of the suburbs outside of major cities, as well as nearly all rural areas, are covered by the rural development program.

Can I qualify for a USDA loan if I’ve previously owned a home?

Yes. You may be eligible for a loan as long as you’re not the current owner of a home that was purchased through the rural development program. So, for example, if you own a home financed through the USDA and wanted to buy a second home and rent out the first one, you wouldn’t be able to finance your second home through the USDA.

How does the USDA loan guarantee work?

When you buy a home, a lender asks you to make a down payment. If you don’t have a down payment, the government (USDA, VA, or FHA) insures the down payment on your home rather than you paying it up front.

Will I have to pay mortgage insurance?

Unlike other subsidized loans, rural development loans require a “guarantee fee” rather than PMI (private mortgage insurance). The guarantee fee is 1% the total mortgage amount and this can typically be financed into the loan (so you don’t have to pay up front). In addition to the guarantee fee, USDA loans also charge an annual premium for the lifetime of a loan.

What are the qualifications for a USDA loan?

To find full eligibility information, complete the survey on the USDA’s eligibility website to find out if you qualify. However, the general qualifications are:

  • U.S. citizenship

  • Buying a home in a qualifying area

  • 24 months of income history

  • A credit score of 640 or higher for streamlined processing

  • Income high enough so that your monthly payments do not exceed 29% of your monthly earnings

What is the direct loan program?

The USDA really offers multiple urban development loans. The guarantee program, for which most single families utilize, and the direct loan program. Direct loans are designed for families who have the greatest need. You can also find out if you’re eligible for a direct loan by filling out the questionnaire on their website.



About the Author
Author

Kristi Vaughan

For all of the disruption in the real estate industry, one critical aspect will never change -- the need for a good, solid real estate agent with truly local knowledge who puts your interests first. Kristi is one of those agents. A real estate agent since early 2005, Kristi has built her business with the idea that if she serves her clients well, success will naturally follow. And it has. What this means for you is that Kristi is on top of it, whether it’s getting you into the newest homes to hit the market, knowing the staging and marketing trends to help show your home in the best light or keeping tabs on the myriad details of an individual transaction. If something needs doing to help you meet your real estate goals, Kristi is giving it her full personal attention. Aided, of course, by today’s technologies. “As the mother of millennials and a homeowner of a certain age myself, I have a sensitivity and respect for the needs of first-time homebuyers, down-sizing sellers and everyone in between,” says Kristi, adding, “I measure my success not by numbers and awards but by the satisfaction of my clients.” A top producer, Kristi has won numerous Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards and has been recognized for many years by Connecticut Magazine’s Five Star Program for excellent customer service. In addition to being a member of the National Association of Realtors, Connecticut Association of Realtors and Ridgefield Board of Realtors, Kristi is a Senior Real Estate Specialist, Accredited Buyer Representative and is e-Pro certified. She is fully trained and experienced in working with relocation clients from near and far. Give her a call.