Kimberly and John Solio's Blog
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:
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.
If you’re on the hunt for a home, you’re undoubtedly excited. You might be eager to ask a lot of questions and get all the information that you can. You’re also probably eager to share quite a bit of information about yourself and your home purchase. While this is a great approach, this isn’t the case for everyone you’re involved with in your real estate transaction. When you’re dealing with the seller’s agent, more information isn’t always better. You don’t need to share as much information with them as you may think you do. Your agent as a buyer is your advocate. They do know a lot of information about you, and they should. Your buyer’s agent knows everything from your budget to your needs and wants. The seller’s agent doesn’t need to know any of this! This is why you hire a buyer’s agent in the first place. Here’s what you shouldn’t divulge to a seller’s agent and why:
Your Opinion Of The House
You’ll want to be as neutral as possible when it comes to how much you like or dislike a house. While it’s perfectly fine to let the agent know that you feel at home in the space and are interested in putting in an offer, you don't need to get into too many details.
On the flip side, if you have a few things that you don’t like about a house, you should keep those to yourself. You don’t want to decide to put an offer in on the home, only to be seen as a less than serious buyer. In hot markets, you should always give yourself the upper hand.
You should never let a seller’s agent know how much you’re looking to spend on a home. If sellers know how high or how low you’re willing to go on a home purchase, both the buyer and the seller should get a fair price for the home. Your goal as a buyer is to have your offer accepted at the best possible price.
Let Your Agent Do His Job
While it can be hard in the midst of excitement, you should really let your agent do most of the talking when it comes to a home purchase. Your agent can help you through everything from negotiations to working with your lender to navigating you through open houses. Your agent may even be able to attend quite a few open houses right along with you. This way, you’ll have someone else to do the talking for you. Just remember the tips above in case you’re flying solo through some home tours. While it’s great to be eager on your home search, it’s never to your benefit to be overzealous.
If you want to enjoy a fast, seamless and profitable home selling experience, it helps to be flexible. That way, you won't feel pressure to accept the first homebuying proposal that comes your way. Instead, you can listen to various homebuying offers, consider their pros and cons and choose one that matches or exceeds your expectations.
Unfortunately, the stress associated with selling a house can escalate quickly. And if a home seller is not careful, he or she risks making rash decisions that may lead to subpar results.
When it comes to selling a house, it generally is a good idea to be flexible. Now, let's take a look at three tips to help sellers maintain their flexibility throughout the home selling cycle.
1. Evaluate the Housing Market
The current housing market may favor buyers or sellers. If you want to maximize the profits from your home sale – and maintain your flexibility throughout the home selling journey – you should examine the real estate sector closely.
Assess the prices of available houses in your city or town that are similar to your own. This will allow you to see how your residence stacks up against the competition and price it appropriately.
Furthermore, evaluate the prices of recently sold houses in your area. With this housing market data, you can determine whether you're preparing to enter a buyer's or seller's market and plan accordingly.
2. Don't Hesitate to Counter a Buyer's Offer
After you list your house, it may be only a matter of time before you receive an offer on your house. However, just because you receive an offer on your house does not mean that you have to accept this proposal.
Remember, your duty as a home seller is to accept the ideal homebuying proposal based on your home selling goals. If an offer fails to meet your expectations, you should not hesitate to counter or reject this proposal.
In most instances, it helps to counter a buyer's proposal. If you submit a counter-offer that matches a buyer's needs, both you and a buyer can move forward with a transaction. Or, in the worst-case scenario, a buyer will reject the counter-offer, and you can move forward with your attempt to sell your house.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
If you're unsure about how to stay flexible throughout the home selling journey, you can always hire a real estate agent. In fact, with a real estate agent at your side, you can get the insights that you need to succeed in any housing market, at any time.
A real estate agent will learn about your home selling goals and help you map out a successful home selling journey. Plus, he or she will list your residence, promote it to the right groups of potential buyers and ensure you can make an informed decision about whether to accept, reject or counter a buyer's proposal.
Want to sell your house? Consider the aforementioned tips, and you can operate as a flexible home seller.
A hot housing market features residences that buyers want to purchase as quickly as possible. As a home seller, you should do everything possible to stir up interest in your residence, even in a hot housing market. Because if dozens of buyers compete for your house, you may be able generate significant profits from your home sale.
Ultimately, there are several fast, effective ways to ensure you can maximize your home sale earnings in a hot housing market, and these include:
1. Conduct a Home Inspection
A home inspection allows you to identify your house's strengths and weaknesses. Then, you can take the necessary steps to transform various home weaknesses into strengths.
It won't take long to conduct a home inspection, either. Typically, a home inspector can visit your residence, perform the evaluation and provide an inspection report in a single day. This means you can quickly gain the home insights that you need to help you upgrade your residence prior to adding it to a hot housing market.
2. See How Your House Stacks Up Against the Competition
Take a look at the prices of available houses in your city or town that are similar to your own. This housing market data can help you establish a competitive initial asking price for your residence.
Furthermore, analyze the prices of recently sold residences in your area. With this housing market information, you can see just how quickly houses are selling and map out your home selling journey accordingly.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
If you're unsure about how to proceed in a hot housing market, there is no need to stress. In fact, if you collaborate with a real estate agent, you can get the help you need to optimize your home sale earnings, regardless of the current housing market's conditions.
A real estate agent is a housing market expert who understands how to navigate the home selling journey. First, he or she will meet with you to discuss your home selling goals. A real estate agent then will develop a personalized home selling strategy. Finally, this housing market professional will list your home, set up home showings and open houses and help you get the best price for your residence.
Of course, a real estate agent is happy to assist you once you receive offers on your house too. If you get a home offer and don't know whether to accept, reject or counter it, a real estate agent can help you explore the pros and cons of all of the options at your disposal. Plus, a real estate agent can offer a recommendation about how to proceed with an offer, along with plenty of insights to help you make an informed decision.
When it comes to selling a house in a hot market, there's a lot that sellers can do to achieve the best-possible results. Use the aforementioned tips, and you can boost the likelihood of maximizing your home sale profits after you add your residence to a hot housing market.
Selling a home may prove to be a long, arduous process. However, if you act as a reasonable home seller, you can identify home selling challenges and overcome such problems without delay.
Now, let's take a look at three tips that you can use to become a reasonable home seller.
1. Learn About the Housing Market
Real estate is complex, particularly for home sellers. Fortunately, many housing market resources are available to help you become a real estate expert.
For example, any home seller can perform an online search to evaluate the housing market in any city or town. Then, a home seller can use this real estate data to analyze the prices of houses that are similar to his or her own and price a residence appropriately.
Home sellers also should look at the prices of recently sold houses in nearby areas. That way, a home seller can find out whether he or she is preparing to enter a seller's or buyer's market and plan accordingly.
2. Try Not to Get Too Emotional
Let's face it – any home selling journey likely includes plenty of ups and downs. But a home seller who understands the best- and worst-case home selling scenarios may be better equipped than others to stay calm, cool and collected, even in the most challenging situations.
Although a home seller may expect his or her home to sell quickly, it is important to set realistic expectations before you list a residence. This will enable you to avoid potential pitfalls that otherwise can prevent you from achieving your home selling goals.
For example, a home seller who receives a home appraisal will have a good idea about the true value of his or her house. And if the home seller receives a home offer that falls well below the appraisal amount, he or she won't feel disappointed. Instead, this home seller should have no trouble politely declining or countering the proposal.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
If you're unsure about how to price your home or promote your house to the right groups of homebuyers, it often pays to get expert help. Lucky for you, real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide, and these housing market professionals can help you make informed home selling decisions.
A real estate agent possesses comprehensive housing market expertise and is happy to share his or her home selling insights with you. This means if you ever have questions about what to include in a home listing, your real estate agent can help you out. Or, if you are uncertain about whether to upgrade your house's interior or exterior, your real estate agent is available to provide honest, unbiased home improvement recommendations.
Becoming a reasonable home seller can make a world of difference in any housing market, at any time. Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can quickly and effortlessly navigate the home selling journey.