A zero-down home loan is a no-down-payment mortgage offered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for eligible rural and suburban home buyers.
You might be thinking, “but I don’t live in a rural area.” That’s OK. While the purpose of the USDA loan program is to boost home ownership in rural areas, the USDA’s definition of “rural” is wide ranging and includes many villages, small towns, suburbs and exurbs of major U.S. cities.
These loans are issued through the USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan Program. USDA loans have been available since 2007. They are generally intended for low- or moderate-income borrowers.
Why are USDA loans such a big deal? Here’s why: they are the only mainstream, ZERO-DOWN loan program available to non-military borrowers.
USDA offers two different types of purchase loans and one type of home improvement loan.
With this type of loan, the USDA partners with local lenders to provide guaranteed loans. Guaranteed means USDA insures a portion of the mortgage in the event the borrower defaults or stops making payments. Because the USDA loans are guaranteed, lenders are less leery of offering mortgages to someone who might have a less-than-favorable credit score. To be eligible for a guaranteed USDA loan, your adjusted household income can’t exceed more than 115% of the median family income in the designated rural area you wish to live in. This USDA document identifies what those income limits are nationwide.
With a direct loan, the USDA lends money directly to the borrowers. Direct loans are targeted to low-income and very-low-income borrowers who cannot access any other type of financing. To be eligible for a USDA direct loan, borrower’s income must fall at or below the low-income limit in a designated area as defined by USDA. This USDA document identifies what those income limits are nationwide.
The USDA also provides home improvement designed to help low-income Americans repair or enhance their homes. Depending on your circumstances, USDA may combine these with grants that don’t require pay back.
USDA loans offer many benefits over traditional mortgage loans.
At a minimum, USDA loan program guidelines require:
A credit score of 640 or above usually helps eligible borrowers secure the best rates for a guaranteed USDA loan with zero down payment. Such a score also rewards you with a streamlined or automated application process.
You can still qualify for a USDA loan if your credit score falls below the margin or if you have no credit history at all. However, the interest rates may not be as favorable. In addition, applicants with no traditional credit history may still qualify for these loans. However, you’ll need to show a reliable financial standing through evidence like timely utility or tuition payments.
Applying for a USDA loan is pretty straightforward.
The first step is to choose a USDA lender, such as Mortgage 1. We specialize in USDA loans. Once you are working with us, we’ll find out what home you are interested in, where it’s located, your asset and debt situation, and how much you need to borrow. We will conduct a credit check to assess your credit score, just as we do with a traditional mortgage.
Once all that is done, we’ll ask you to provide documentation, including:
The application process is pretty easy, really. Our loan officers are skilled at making everything go smoothly and helping you navigate the process and get you in your home as soon as possible.
To see if you qualify for a zero-down USDA loan, give us a call at 1-866-532-0550 or use our Mortgage in a SNAP digital mortgage application.