There are a lot of things to understand when trying to get financing for a home and qualifying for a USDA loan. I am going to explain the most important factors when considering the home you are buying, the finance company you want to use, as well as what the criteria are in order to get pre-approved.
The first and most important thing to know is that there are strict income qualification factors. By going to the USDA eligibility site you can actually calculate what your family size is and how much money you make in order to see if you can even qualify for a USDA loan. Typically a family of four or less in Indiana with an income of less than 75,000 will qualify. A family of five or more can make up to 100k and still qualify for a USDA loan. There are other considerations like disabled children or dependants as well that you want to look into. Speaking with a professional loan officer will help you understand the process a little bit better.
The second thing is making sure that the home you desire is in a USDA qualifying area. You can Google USDA eligibility and type in the address of the property to see if the address qualifies. If that doesn’t work you can ask me or your local lender if the property you like will qualify. Once you are approved via USDA your realtor should know what areas qualify and what don’t so make sure when choosing a realtor they know that you are financing the new home purchase with a USDA loan. Also speaking to a professional loan officer will help you understand more clearly what areas qualify and which ones don’t. Typically cities with less than 25,000 people are going to qualify. Rural areas also usually qualify as well.
The third step is to get with a loan officer to get approved. Usually you will need at least a 620 credit score to get a USDA loan. Some lenders go down to 600 but it is more difficult to get approved with lower scores and most professional loan officers will not do it, because there is a chance you would not close. USDA also has strict income qualification factors beyond gross income. Their debt to income ratio is more strict than any other program. Your maximum debt to income can usually be no more than 41%. So all of your debts combined plus your new house payment cannot be more than 41% of your total GROSS income. Your loan officer can help you understand based upon your budget what homes you should be looking at based upon value and total payment with taxes and insurance.
Lastly and tying into the approval process don’t be afraid to shop a few lenders. Don’t talk to 20 loan officers or you will get confused and overwhelmed. Keep shopping to 2-4 loan officers and do business with not only who you feel comfortable with, but who has the experience necessary to get the loan completed, who has a good reputation in the local community (look at reviews and things online), and who offers the best loan for your situation.
Also remember that USDA is strict on what home can qualify for the loan. So make sure you ask your realtor if the home you love will qualify for USDA!
I hope I have helped you understand the USDA process a little more clearly if there is anything I can do to help please feel free to reach out.