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Chris Heller
Chris Heller, Keller Williams RealtyPhone: (800) 800-2978
Email: [email protected]
USDA Loans: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

by Chris Heller 03/04/2019

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
Chris Heller

Chris Heller has built one of the most successful real estate teams in the United States. From his selection as Rookie of the Year in 1989 to being the top-producing agent in San Diego County and the #1 Keller Williams associate in all of North America, Chris has earned the respect of colleagues and clients for the exceptional results he delivers.

Under Chris' leadership, the Chris Heller Team has sold literally thousands of homes. In fact, he has sold more than 100 homes a year every year for the past two decades. During a five-year stretch of one of the most challenging real estate markets in history, his sales volume totaled more than $450 million.
Chris has succeeded in a highly competitive marketplace through his leadership, drive and ability to assemble and empower high-performing teams. The specialized members of the Chris Heller Team provide unrivaled market knowledge and client service.

Chris also serves as the owner and operator of several Keller Williams market centers and has helped build Keller Williams into one of the largest and fastest growing real estate franchise operations in the world. In 2011, Chris was asked to lead Keller Williams Worldwide. Under his leadership, Keller Williams has expanded into more than a dozen countries, including Dubai, Indonesia, Mexico, Portugal, Turkey, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Vietnam. Chris' deep connections to real estate leaders throughout the world provide his clients with a unique global perspective and exposure to international buyers and sellers.