USDA still offering home loans for Rural Areas


Interested in a home loan that requires no down payment, no private mortgage insurance and offers reasonable interest rates? Then the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Single Family Housing program (SFH) might be right for you.

USDA Rural Development’s mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life in Rural America. The agency’s SFH program supports this mission by offering direct and guaranteed home loans to help rural Ohioans buy or build safe, decent and affordable homes. Home ownership is an economic cornerstone for communities and owning a home is an integral part of the American dream. The impact of housing development also provides a stimulus for manufacturing, trade industries and related professional services, benefiting the larger economy.

The direct loan program provides government loans to very-low and low-income people who meet county adjusted income limits. Applicants must be able to afford mortgage payments, including taxes and homeowners insurance, and have an acceptable credit history. Direct loans are for 33 years, although 38-year terms are available in some cases. Presently, the fixed interest rate is 3.75 percent. Payment assistance also is available for many qualifying applicants. If applicants meet an asset limitation, no down payment is required.

The guaranteed loan program is administered in partnership with private lenders and is designed to assist low and moderate-income applicants. In the guaranteed program, the loan is made by a bank, credit union or other financial institution, and Rural Development guarantees a large percentage of the loan on the borrower’s behalf. The guarantee enables lenders to offer more affordable mortgage terms. You may obtain a list of approved lenders by contacting the local Rural Development Office.

With the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, the “rural area definition” used by the USDA to determine eligibility for SFH programs has been amended. Applying the required 2010 Census data, Washington County no longer is included in a Metropolitan Statistical Area, formerly a limiter. As a result, the City of Marietta will be eligible for the SFH program beginning May 6.

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