Gordon Avery'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.
Buying a home should be an unforgettable experience. However, problems sometimes may arise that prevent a homebuyer from enjoying the property buying journey.
Whether it's tough negotiations with a stubborn home seller or a property inspection that reveals many problems with a house, problems may occur that can make the homebuying journey memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the homebuying process and ensure you can acquire your dream home quickly.
Now, let's take a look at three tips that homebuyers can use to transform an ordinary property buying experience into an unforgettable journey.
1. Perform Plenty of Real Estate Market Research
Navigating the real estate market can be tricky, particularly for first-time homebuyers. Conversely, homebuyers who evaluate the real estate market closely should have no trouble discovering a wide range of terrific residences.
Examine the prices of recently sold homes in your area. That way, you can establish a price range for homes that match your needs.
Also, analyze the amount of time that recently sold properties were available. This will help you differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's one and ensure you can map out your homebuying journey accordingly.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Buying a home likely will require you to get approved for a mortgage. If you receive pre-approval for a mortgage, you can narrow your home search based on your budget.
To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with several banks and credit unions. These lenders can explain how a mortgage works and help you find one that suits you perfectly.
In addition, don't hesitate to ask plenty of questions when you meet with lenders. These mortgage professionals can provide expert insights into the different types of mortgages, including fixed- and adjustable-rate options. By doing so, they can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage so you can kick off your search for the perfect home.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
When it comes to buying a home, working with a real estate agent is paramount. This real estate professional will do what it takes to eliminate guesswork and streamline the homebuying journey.
A real estate agent understands the challenges that are commonly associated with buying a home and can help you overcome any potential hurdles along the way. He or she also is happy to respond to your homebuying concerns and queries and provide you with the support you deserve at any time.
Furthermore, a real estate agent will keep you up to date about new homes as they become available, set up home showings and negotiate with home sellers on your behalf. This housing market professional will even provide honest, unbiased recommendations to help you make informed decisions throughout the homebuying cycle.
Ready to get the best results from the homebuying journey? Use these tips, and you enjoy an outstanding homebuying experience.
Having a beautiful home is wonderful, but having a beautiful home with an elegant and functional kitchen is fantastic. Updated kitchen décor and finishes are an on-trend way to create a warm gathering place for friends and family. A real wood countertop is a top option for perfecting the natural kitchen décor motif.
Wooden Countertop Styles
There are distinctive styles of wooden countertop materials available, and each serves a different purpose and esthetic.
Butcher Block Countertops: For countertop that allows you to slice and cut directly on the surface, the butcher block is your best choice. The wood is two to three inches thick of alternating species and can withstand damage from chopping and dicing with proper care. Available in various wood mixtures as end-grain and edge-grain, its hardness and color options make it easier to choose the one that fits into your kitchen theme.
Reclaimed Wood Countertops: For people who appreciate the rustic look, a repurposed wood countertop is a great option. Currently among the trending countertops, reclaimed wood is relatively simple to find and source locally. Most reclaimed wood countertops come from recycled or discarded wood.
Live Edge Wood Countertops: Made from planed but not trimmed raw wood, a live edge countertop retains the original shape of the tree. The unique thing about this countertop is its rustic and uncommon look; it curves inward in some areas and rounds out in others, giving your kitchen or bar area a beautiful and unique look.
Solid Wood Countertops: The solid wood countertop option works well with all kitchen designs, creating a timeless and traditional look for your kitchen. Thick planks of mahogany, walnut, knotty alder, or other hardwoods waterproofed with acrylic polyurethane come in flat, dull, satin, and semi-gloss finishes for an elegant addition to your countertops.
Your Choice of Wood
Ensure that the design, grain, and finish of the wooden countertop you choose is appropriate for its purpose. Hardwood like maple, teak, oak, chestnut, and mahogany make great countertop material, especially if you intend to chop and slice directly on the counter surface. For a more sustainable option, bamboo, while not technically wood, is an attractive and durable choice.
Your kitchen countertop has a significant impact on the look and feel of your room. For best results, consult with or hire a professional contractor who is knowledgeable about the installation process for these unique surfaces.
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