Mortgage and Portfolio Loan Guide

Zero Down Mortgage – USDA Home Loans

RD loan

Zero Down Mortgage

Did you know that even if you’re not a veteran you can buy a home with a zero down mortgage in many areas? And it’s not too good to be true. There are, however, some restrictions regarding location and income.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development guaranteed loan usdalogoprogram is a government loan designed to help low-moderate income earners purchase a home in “rural” areas. However, you may be surprised to see what the government considers to be rural and low-moderate income.

Income

The income restrictions will vary across the country and even across each state. Here is an example for my local market in Livingston County, Michigan. For a guaranteed RD loan the annual household income must be at $93,450 or below. Even if the spouse is not a borrower on the loan, their income will be used as a factor in the household income. USDA looks at the whole picture, not just the applicant. You can use this tool to help you get an idea if your family qualifies for an RD loan in regards to income. Remember when using that tool, you’re looking for qualifying on the guaranteed loan, which will maximize your buying power from in income standpoint.

Location

Many folks are shocked when they take a look to see that their neighborhood is in an area that is considered to be a “rural area” which allows them to get a zero down mortgage. Just outside the metro Detroit area and not far from many major cities Rural Development financing is available. Although the mapping tool on the USDA website is not 100% accurate, you can use this tool to give you an idea of what areas are eligible. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that you don’t have be living “out in the sticks” to be eligible for Rural Development financing.

What is also exciting about RD loans is that you can buy a condo with this program as long as it’s within the eligible geographic limits. Crazy right? Some people call RD loans “farm loans” and you can buy a condo with them. How awesome is that?!

What to Expect

  • Make sure you have your ducks in a row in respect to credit. You don’t need to have perfect credit, but it needs to be reasonable.
  • The process may take a little bit longer than other loans because it needs to get final approval by USDA after the lender approves it. However, right now in my particular market in Michigan, the RD turn time is 2-3 days. So not a significant delay currently.
  • Mortgage insurance is significantly less than FHA on a monthly basis, about 1/3 of what it costs on FHA.

There are so many expenses to consider when buying a home. So if you have an opportunity to buy with a zero down mortgage, and you qualify, why not take advantage of that opportunity?

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The Property Piece of the Mortgage Puzzle

It’ game time. You have the steady job. Your down payment is sitting safely in your bank account. Your credit expert helped you get things cleaned up. You’re now ready to buy a home! It’s time to put together the last piece of the mortgage puzzle, the property. This is where the fun begins. The factors to consider when figuring out what home fits you the best are endless. This should help you gain an understanding, and a snapshot on how the process works when you find the home of your dreams.
 
Collateral
 
The home you are purchasing is the collateral being used to secure the financing you’re getting. If you expect a lender to give the green light to finance a home for you, be prepared for them to perform due diligence as well. Your lender will have certain standards that the property needs to meet. 
 
Inspection
 
Once your Realtor has helped you negotiate an amazing price, it’s time to order the inspection. Although lenders mortgage collateraldon’t typically require a general inspection to be completed by a licensed inspector, it’s highly recommended that you get one yourself. Your Realtor usually will have a couple recommendations of credible inspectors in your area. An inspection can cost anywhere from $300 to $800 depending on the scope of work and the property size. Your inspector will examine each component of the house in order to give an opinion on what meets code (electrical, HVAC), what doesn’t meet code, and what the estimated remaining life of items might be (water heater, roof, furnace). The cost that you pay for an inspection pales in comparison to the value you receive by knowing exactly what you’re “getting yourself into” with a potential home purchase.

Appraisal

Your lender will require an appraisal to be completed, and will submit an order through a third party. There is no need to order your own appraisal because privately ordered appraisals cannot be used or considered by a lender. The cost can vary depending on scope of work and property size. Typically $400-$750. The purpose of an appraisal is to get an opinion of fair market value of a home, and to find out if there are any serious issues with the home (peeling paint, broken windows, mold…). The appraiser will physically go out to the property to do an general inspection, take pictures, and take measurements. The appraiser will pull records of recent sale history for similar properties that have sold within the area of the home you’re buying. He/she will take into consideration the square footage, amenities, condition, age, and other important factors that contribute to value. The appraiser will make specific adjustments to value based on how those factors compare to the actual property being sold. By doing that, the appraiser can make an educated decision of what people are willing to pay for a home that is similar to the one you’re buying. This is called the sales comparison approach. This approach gives the best indication of what the fair market value is because it’s based on what people are actually willing to pay in that given market. If any repairs needed are noted by the appraiser, there is a strong likelihood that those repairs will need to be completed. You don’t necessarily want to make any repairs, nor will you be authorized in most cases, because you don’t own the home yet. What if you spend $100, and a Saturday afternoon installing a rail on a porch, just to find out you can’t close on the home for other reasons? Doesn’t make much sense.

Property Type

  • Single family home – This is your typical stick built, built from the ground up, free standing home. You’ll be required to maintain your own landscaping, snow shoveling, and exterior maintenance. You may or may not have an organized homeowners association (HOA) in your neighborhood. The HOA will help with general street maintenance and neighborhood needs. Be mindful of what the HOA fees are because it can have an impact on your debt-to-income ratio. In some areas you may think you’re buying a single family home, but find out too late that it’s a “site-condominium”. Depending on your loan program, your lender may have to do a more extensive review of the property and HOA if the home is found to be a site-condo.
  • Condominium – This can be a home in a community of 1 or 2 story homes that are attached, or a building of many stories containing units stacked on top of one another (like an apartment building). You own the interiorcollateral mortgage of the home. The exterior is typically maintained by the HOA, so the HOA fees are typically more costly on a condo. There are usually amenities like a pool and exercise facility among other things. Condos are popular for people who want to enjoy the benefits of homeownership, but pass on the headache of maintaining anything outside the home. Condos require a more thorough review than any property type. The lender will examine the financials of the HOA in detail. They’ll look for things like reserves, delinquent owners in the community, and insurance coverage. If you are getting an FHA loan or a VA loan, you can find out what condos are already approved in your area. For FHA approved condos in your area click hereFor VA approved condos in your area click here
  • Townhome – A townhome can be a very similar setup as the condo that’s in a community with 1 or 2 story homes that are attached. With a townhome you do own the land outside but the HOA will cover day to day maintenance usually. Your lender will contact the HOA, but typically will not be as strict on guidelines as they would be on condos.
  • Manufactured home – These are homes that are built in a factory and placed on a piece of property. It can be a challenge to find a lender for manufactured home financing. One of the reasons many lenders do not offer financing on manufactured homes is because manufactured homes typically depreciate in value. In other words, the value of the home will likely decrease over time. Whereas the value in a single family home, condo, or townhome, will typically increase (appreciate). Of course the housing meltdown in recent years has made many people question that fact. But historically, real estate is a great investment, and will appreciate in value.  
  • Multi-unit – any property that is being sold as piece that has several functional dwellings (units). These are duplex (2 unit home), triplex (3 unit home), and fourplex or quadplex (4 unit home). You can obtain a residential mortgage on multi-unit homes as long as they are 4 or less units. Anything with 5 or greater units will require a commercial loan. Multi-unit homes are a great way to supplement your income and have your mortgage paid for by the tenants.

Escrow Account

  • General – Your escrow account is a cushion set aside so that you have adequate funds available to pay your taxes and insurance when they are due. At closing you’ll pay for your full year of homeowners insurance, and several month’s worth of your taxes (depending on the time of year and frequency of taxes due). In your mortgage payments moving forward you’ll pay a fraction of your annual homeowners insurance and taxes. Each payment will contribute to your escrow account so that enough is accumulated when the next tax or insurance bill is due. Your lender will manage your escrow account for you. This keeps things simple for you because you do not have to worry about having to pay a large bill for taxes and insurance two or more times per year. It’s all included in your payment so you have less responsibility to manage. If you have a FHA loan, VA loan, or put less than 10% down, you’ll be required to have an escrow account with your lender.
  • Insurance – You’ll need to obtain an insurance policy to cover unexpected, significant damage on the home. Each property type will have different requirements, and needs that will be covered. Your Realtor and your lender can give you insight on what type of coverage to get. Certainly the insurance agent you choose will be the expert in that field on what coverage you need.
  • Real Estate (property) Taxes – Be mindful of how much the taxes on your property are. This can make a significant difference on your budget and your debt-to-income ratio. Your taxes are likely to fluctuate, which can cause an adjustment in your monthly escrow payment.

Congratulations! 

With the information you’ve been able to acquire by skimming through the “keeping your home loan process simple” series, you’re now more prepared than the vast majority of home buyers. Use this as a reference. Use it as a tool to come back to as you get closer to being ready to take the next step into the American dream. Subscribe by email to stay in the loop on the latest and greatest info on homeownership, and balanced living.  

A few closing tips…

From Livingston County, Michigan expert, and licensed inspector, Dominic Vagnetti of Inspections on Demand. 517-540-0800

 

-Roof conditions and foundations are the two most worrisome items for buyers. Roofs are a disposable product and we want to start paying extra attention as they reach their 20th birthday. We are seeing longer lifespans from dimensional (or architectural) designs, however exceptions are always present. Curling, granule loss, missing shingles are things a buyer can see driving up to the property.

-Foundation cracks can be problematic but are most commonly superficial. Look for signs of water leakage that would require injection sealant, gaps larger than 1/4 inch, or horizontal cracks which can be signs of significant movement.

-Foundation waterproofing and drainage are mostly typical of 1970s and newer homes. Prior to that, sump crocks and foundation drain lines were either not present or poorly designed. Signs of water damage or flooding can be found by examining homeowner belongings on the floor or looking for stains on wood walls or shelving. It can be important to differentiate between ongoing flood issues and a single water event like a water heater failure or leak in a pipe.