Rural Housing Service Center
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Government Program Specialists
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USDA Common Questions and Answers


What is a USDA Home Loan?

What Types of Loans does USDA offer?

What are the advantages of USDA Home Loans versus FHA and Conventional Loans?

Are USDA Home Loans Credit Flexible?

What types of homes are eligible for financing?

Can I get an USDA Home Loan if I have had a bankruptcy?

Does a USDA Home Loan have mortgage insurance?

Do USDA Home Loans Require Down Payment?

What is the maximum amount that I can borrow?

What factors determine if I am eligible for an USDA Home Loans?


What is a USDA Home Loan?

The USDA Rural Development Home Loan is a flexible zero down payment government guaranteed program that is growing in popularity. It is designed to promote homeownership to residents in rural communities with low to moderate incomes and who have limited savings for a down payment. A common misconception about the USDA loan program is that it is only for farmers, but you will find that just outside most metropolitan areas there are many suburban areas that qualify for this program.

What Types of Loans does USDA offer?

The Section 502 Guaranteed Loan is the most common type of USDA rural housing loan. Amazingly, this loan will actually lend up to 103.5% of the home's appraised value and even allow the buyer to include closing costs in the actual loan (appraisal permitting). All USDA Guaranteed Loans carry a 30 year term with a low fixed rate.

What are the advantages of USDA Home Loans versus FHA and Conventional Loans?

Are USDA Home Loans Credit Flexible?

USDA Home Loan requirements are not entirely credit score driven, although RANLife Home Loans require a 640 mid-score or better, USDA Home Loan guidelines will disregard some credit derogatoriness with an acceptable explanation.

What types of homes are eligible for financing?

The home must be owner occupied (no investment property) and all single family, condos and planned unit developments. NO MANUFACTURED OR MOBILE HOMES.

Can I get an USDA Home Loan if I have had a bankruptcy?

You must be discharged from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy for at least three years. If you are in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and have made all court approved payments on time and as agreed for at least one year, you are eligible to make an USDA loan application.

What types of homes are eligible for financing?

The home must be owner occupied (no investment property) and all single family, condos and planned unit developments (PUD). NO MANUFACTURED OR MOBILE HOMES.

Does a USDA Home Loan have mortgage insurance?

One of the biggest advantages of a USDA RD Home Loan is a the very low mortgage insurance (MI) requirement. This alone will potentially save you $50-$250/mo depending on your loan size.

However, USDA has been recently changing the MIP requirements. Call a RANLife USDA specialist today to see how the changes might affect you.

Do USDA Home Loans Require Down Payment?

USDA RD Home Loans have no down payment requirement. FHA requires 3.5% down and conventional loans require 3% down.

What is the maximum amount that I can borrow?

$417,000.00.

What factors determine if I am eligible for a USDA Home Loans?

To qualify for this loan program, there are two notable requirements that differentiate this program from an FHA or VA loan program.

1. Location: The home must be located in a designated rural area.

2. Income Limits: Must meet USDA adjusted annual household income limits, a maximum 115% of the median income for your area. Meaning your total combined household income cannot be more than this amount. If your income is slightly over these amounts, there are little known deductions that can be used to reduce your qualifying gross household income and help you qualify. Such as:

  • Disabled or handicapped individuals who are not the applicant or co-applicant.
  • Documentable childcare expenses for children 12 years of age or older.
  • Documentable medical expenses for family members 62 years of age or older.
  • Attendant care expenses.
  • Deduction for each child under the age of 18 and/or full time student over 18.

Qualifying Income: It is important to note that USDA uses two types of income for qualifying.

  • Household income is the combined adjusted gross income of all people living in the home, regardless if they are applying for or will be on the mortgage. This amount cannot be higher than the county limits.
  • Repayment income is income from the actual loan applicants and determines the DTI (debt-to-income) ratio. Deduction for each child under the age of 18 and/or full time student over 18.

    • Rural Housing Purchase Benefits

      • 100% Financing
      • Low Monthly Mortgage Insurance
      • Using an USDA Approved Lender usually means lower closing costs
      • Low fixed monthly payments
      • Low mortgage interest rates
      • Never a pre-payment penalty

      Contact a USDA Loan Specialist Online or toll free at (800) 461-4152 to learn more about how the USDA Home Purchase Programs can help you.