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USDA Loans in Liberty County, Florida: Learn How to Obtain a Zero Down Mortgage

We can all agree that owning a home is a great ambition. A place to call your own, where you and your loved ones can share your lives, is a universal dream, but it is becoming increasingly out of reach for many Americans. This will typically be a person's biggest purchase during their lives, which means it must be done carefully and with plenty of prudence.

Most people resort to loans to facilitate their home purchase costs. These home loans are known as mortgage loans and fall under various categories.

Most financial institutions offer conventional loans, but we're here to highlight a particular type of loan available to citizens of the United States, known as USDA Loans.

Whenever most people hear of USDA loans, they imagine that it is only available to people living in rural areas of the country.

The reality, however, is that the benefits of USDA loans may be enjoyed by citizens in rural, urban, and suburban regions of the nation, making these loans a powerful tool in the government's efforts to ensure as many people as possible have safe, secure, and affordable housing.

Let's take a closer look at the USDA zero-down home loan program, focusing on its eligibility conditions, payment terms, and insurance protocols. We will pay particular attention to its operation in Liberty County, Florida.


What Are USDA Loans?

Let's start by going over what precisely a USDA loan is. The United States Department of Agriculture set up a Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program to increase homeownership rates in the country.

The department set this loan facility up so that borrowers would not have to pay the often hefty down payments or struggle with exorbitant interest rates on their monthly payments.

To make things even more amenable to potential homeowners, the program is very flexible and accommodating when evaluating its borrowers' credit rating and income status. These qualities make USDA loans an attractive option for people trying to achieve their home ownership ambitions.

Contrary to what many assume, the USDA does not give out loans in the traditional sense of the phrase. The USDA is an underwriter for pre-approved lenders, meaning that if borrowers default on their loan repayment, the USDA serves as insurance.

While the USDA does not typically interfere in the day-to-day approval and lending processes these lenders undertake, it reserves the right to have the final right of approval on all loans as they are being processed.

USDA Single-Family Housing Guaranteed Loans are not the same product as USDA Single-Family Direct Loans. This is an important distinction to make. Direct Loans are provided directly by the Federal government, bypassing the lenders that operate in the case of Guaranteed Loan processing.

These are designed to assist the country's populace's low- and very-low-income segments. As we continue here, keep in mind that we're only considering the Guaranteed Loan, the most popular among applicants.


Differentiating Between Conventional Mortgage Loans and USDA Loans

To illustrate how vast the divide is between zero-down USDA loans and traditional loan products, let's take a quick look at the features of conventional loans. The most critical element of conventional loans is their down payment requirements.

An average mortgage loan might require you to pay between 3% and 20% of the property's value, depending on the lender and the hose in question. This can be an insurmountable hurdle for people without complex cash resources.

Another important aspect of conventional loans is that they put much more stringent eligibility requirements on borrowers looking for loans. A borrower must have an excellent annual income, a healthy credit score, and minor levels of existing debt to stand a chance of getting a conventional loan.

While conventional loans usually consider a credit score of 620 as good enough to qualify for a loan, most financial advisors will tell you that it makes more sense to apply for a USDA loan if your rating falls below 680. Anyone applying for a loan with a credit score below 620 will face much higher interest rates on their repayments, putting them at a significant financial disadvantage.

Even with all this said, it's only fair to mention that these types of loans are not the only options available to citizens of the United States. There are a couple of other loan programs with government backing that offer relatively better deals compared to conventional loans for eligible applicants. These include the Veterans Association (VA) loan program and the Federal Housing Program (FHA), both of which seek to help specific segments of American society attain their home ownership goals.


Eligibility Requirements for USDA Zero-Down Mortgage Loans

No matter how optimistic or well-intentioned, any loan program needs specific requirements to ensure the program's sustainability and prevent abuse. The conditions in place for USDA loan applicants, however strict they may seem on paper, are drastically less stringent than those in effect with conventional loans. These requirements include:

  • Down Payment - Zero Down USDA loans, much unlike conventional loan products, do not require that applicants make down payments on the property they wish to purchase.

  • Geographical Location - USDA loans were designed for people in rural, semi-rural, and under-developed regions of the country, but these standards are not strictly enforced. Most lenders consider applications on a case-by-case basis, meaning you can receive a loan regardless of your location in the United States.

  • Property Type - Because this loan is designed to help families obtain a place to live and raise their families, these loans are only equipped to facilitate the purchase of single-family homes and not commercial properties.

  • Debt-to-Income Ratio - A person's DTI is arrived at by dividing their monthly income by their monthly debt payments or expenses. The ratio that this gives us is a good indicator of how heavily burdened a person is, thus showing whether they are in a position to take on more debt comfortably.

  • Income Ceiling - One of the ways USDA loans are set up to help those who need assistance is by setting an income limit on applicants. Applicants who make more than 115 percent of their state's median income yearly are not eligible for USDA loans.

What are the Limits on USDA Loans?

In truth, there are very few limits on how much you can receive through the USDA home loan program. Any constraints here will come about naturally because lenders will always try to ensure that applicants can pay back the money they borrow, meaning they will not give out more than they think a borrower can handle.

The eligibility requirements discussed in the preceding paragraphs are designed for this purpose. These criteria may often be more involved than appearing at face value. For example, an applicant's income limit consideration may be influenced by factors such as a disability in the family, the number of children in their household, and any other relevant deductions that come to bear in such matters.


A Person signing a contract to buy home


USDA Loan Mortgage Insurance and Private Mortgage Insurance

Conventional loans come with an additional expense known as Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). This charge will be combined with your monthly mortgage payment but only applies if you make a down payment that doesn't equal twenty percent of the property's value. Once your payments accumulate up to twenty percent, the payments will cease automatically.

While USDA loans have similar attachments pegged to them, their framework is such that applicants will typically save money in the long run. Here, applicants will pay one percent of their loan amount upfront at closing, or they can choose to fold this into their loan, paying 0.35 percent of their balance each year.

If, for instance, you're taking out a $600,000 loan, you will need to pay $6,000 upfront and $2,100 every year. Your yearly payments will gradually decline with each passing year because they are calculated as a percentage of your balance.

As soon as you hit the twenty percent mark, you will automatically be in a position to apply for loan refinancing, effectively changing your USDA loan to a conventional loan type, which typically offers a more laid-back payment schedule. Still, the cost of the refinancing operation itself might wipe out any potential benefits refinancing might offer, meaning that this option should be considered very carefully before being undertaken.


Awesome Things to Do in Liberty County, Florida

If you're considering moving to Liberty County, Florida, it's only prudent to learn a little about what you can expect to find once you're there. This county is located in the northeast part of the state, sharing borders with Wakulla and Leon Counties to the east, Calhoun County to the west, Franklin County to the South, and Gadsden County to the northeast.

Aside from Lafayette County, Liberty County is in the rare club of dry counties in Florida, meaning that it has a ban on the sale of alcohol.

Compared to most counties in the state, it is sparsely populated, with a population of 7,974 people residing within its 836 square miles, according to the 2020 census. This is not hard to comprehend, as the Apalachicola National Forest occupies nearly half of the county's total area.

Let's look at some activities you can look forward to in Liberty County, Florida.


Fishing, Hunting, and More in Apalachicola National Forest

This is the most expansive National Park in Florida, with a significant portion lying within the borders of lIberty County. The forest offers a variety of land and water-based activities, including hiking, swimming, off-road biking, hunting, boating, horseback riding, and more.

Visitors can visit one of its two main wilderness areas - the New River Wilderness and Bradwell Bay Wilderness. You can encounter a variety of notable wildlife species here, including the fox-squirrel, raccoon, alligator, wild turkey, gray fox, coyote, bobcat, black bear, red-cockaded woodpecker, and many more.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is in charge of the fishing and hunting here, with the significant game hunting season kicking off during thanksgiving weekend and lasting through to January.


Visit the 3rd Infantry Division Museum

History buffs will have their fill of attractions in Liberty County. Aside from the Old County Jail and the Dorchester Village Civic Center, the county hosts the 3r Infantry Division Museum. This is a 14,000-square-foot layout that features a plethora of attractions and exhibits, including an interactive gallery tracing the origins and progression of the camp, a gallery highlighting the 3rd Infantry Division, and numerous portraits showcasing the unit's history.

The facility has plans to incorporate an Airfields and Aviation Gallery and a Military Vehicles of the Past showcase. Admission here is free, and the museum can host conferences and events after prior application.


The Veteran's Memorial Railroad

This commemorative railroad was set up in 2001 after locals interested in community service and the railroad industry came together and decided to create something that reminded everyone of America's railroad history. This group located a 24 gauge 'Century Flyer,' which they found in an abandoned amusement park and worked long hours to restore.

It is located in the lush Veterans Memorial Park, part of the Apalachicola forest zone. The railroad carriages and engine are a great Liberty County attraction, especially during festive holiday seasons such as the 4th of July and Halloween, in addition to being a favored location for field trips, birthday parties, and various special events.

The Memorial Railroad and its immediate grounds make for a fun-filled outing for young and old alike. A trip around the park in the quaint yet charming locomotive will surely bring a smile to anyone's face.

Other amenities and attractions include a large picnic pavilion, well-kept playgrounds, and a lengthy paved walking trail perfect for a relaxed stroll among the park's beautiful scenery.


Hinesville Area Arts Council Gallery

Lovers of the arts and people with an appreciation for the cultural aspects of American life will have plenty to keep them engaged at the Hinesville Area Arts Council Gallery. This facility was set up to serve as a resource for the education and enlightenment of locals and visitors alike.

It features rotating exhibits that showcase new artists every month. Guests may enroll in one of the numerous classes offered here, which range from yoga to oil painting, and do not have any age restrictions for applicants. While the facility receives most of its funding thanks to the Margaret Martin Trust Fund, it has a strong base founded upon the support of the surrounding community, which is the secret behind its success.


Go on an Inshore Charter Fishing Expedition

The Apalachicola River offers some of Florida's best fishing all year round and is set among some of the state's most unique and underused waterways. Visitors will enjoy a variety of fishing experiences as they traverse the flats, nearshore, and backcountry fishing opportunities that are rich in Flounder, Trout, Sharks, Tripletail, Redfish, and more.

Windy conditions will not hamper your outing, as the river offers plenty of alternative fishing spots sheltered from the elements. You can navigate any of the numerous tributaries that make up the waterway. Fishing here will not just be another fishing outing to tick off your checklist but an experience you will want to return to repeatedly.

Every fishing boat will have an experienced captain conducting the day's activities. The operators will provide water, professional guides, fishing permits, sanitary facilities, and all the safety equipment and fishing gear you and your party might need. The facilities here are wheelchair accessible and have no age restrictions. Bring some snacks and pocket money, and you'll be ready for your adventure.


Final Thoughts

The United States government has instituted numerous programs to help Americans attain affordable housing in its ongoing struggle. Among these programs, the United States Department of Agriculture Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan initiative is the most successful.

Applying for a USDA loan may offer you the best chance of accessing an affordable loan if you meet their eligibility requirements. To determine whether you qualify or not, contact any approved USDA loan lender, and you will have taken the first step towards owning a slice of America.

With over 50 years of mortgage industry experience, we are here to help you achieve the American dream of owning a home. We strive to provide the best education before, during, and after you buy a home. Our advice is based on experience with Phil Ganz and Team closing over One billion dollars and helping countless families.

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