If you're looking to achieve the homeownership dream in this county in The Sunshine State and don't have enough down payment, the USDA loan program might be the solution. You can finance 100% of your home with no or zero money down, making it the perfect option if you want to avoid expensive down payments.
This article will walk you through everything you need to know about USDA mortgage loans, including how to obtain one, the benefits of getting one, loan limits, PMI, and more exciting things about Polk County, Florida. Read on to learn more!
Are you a Hometown Hero? Find out your eligibility for the Hometown Heroes Loan Program in Polk County, Florida.
Understand the USDA Loans
The term USDA is an acronym for the United States Department of Agriculture, which refers to an agency responsible for agricultural affairs. This popular government agency offers particular mortgage loans for eligible applicants across the U.S. These loans, also called Rural Development loans, are intended for people who might not otherwise be able to obtain financing due to credit or income issues. USDA home loans offer low-interest rates and zero down payments of the property's appraised value—which makes them especially attractive for first-time home buyers, who often don't have much equity or savings for a down payment. Interest rates are usually lower than conventional mortgages because they do not require you to contribute any money upfront.
This government program can benefit many borrowers and provide additional help if you meet specific requirements. However, it isn't available in every country area and has different rules depending on which type of USDA loan you choose. Whether you're looking to buy your first home or move up to a larger property, understanding these USDA loan types can help you decide which one is right for you and your family's needs. Let's look at three types of USDA loans and how they compare with other mortgage options.
Direct USDA Loans - The Direct Loan Program (DLP) assists low-income families in purchasing their own homes or cooperative housing. An essential DLP requirement is to demonstrate your ability to afford monthly payments, including property taxes and insurance, at current interest rates without any Federal assistance other than the DLP's interest rate subsidy. These USDA loans do not require you to provide a down payment because the U.S. government guarantees repayment if borrowers default on their mortgages. This type of loan uses a fixed interest rate, and you'll have a set time to pay it back.
Guaranteed USDA Loan - If you have a low credit score and can't get a mortgage through traditional lending institutions, consider applying for a guaranteed USDA loan. This loan program was designed specifically to give non-prime borrowers with lower incomes and low credit scores access to credit. This type of loan offers a fixed interest rate, meaning you know exactly how much your monthly payments will be. Interest rates are based on an evaluation system and can vary by location, but they're typically lower than private loans. Also, they usually carry less stringent credit score requirements and other financial factors.
- USDA Home Improvement Loans - U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) home improvement loans are perfect if you need cosmetic or structural repairs on your home. These loans offer 0% down payment and are provided to low-to-moderate income borrowers. The loan can only be used to pay for repairs or improvements you're considering making to your primary residence; it cannot be used to refinance an investment property.
Key Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for a USDA loan, applicants must meet several qualifications, such as meeting the household income limit set by the agency for the Polk County region and living in an area defined as rural by law. Many areas across Florida are eligible under these guidelines. Another requirement is that you can't have owned any other property (such as your current home) within the past three years. If you meet these two criteria, you can apply for and qualify for a zero-down mortgage with a USDA-Approved lender! Besides that, there are more requirements you must meet to be eligible for a USDA loan in Polk County:
- Be a U.S. Citizen, qualified alien, or U.S. non-citizen national.
- Have the legal ability to incur the USDA loan obligation
- Purchase a house that meets all the USDA program criteria
- Agree to use the contracted home as your primary residence
- Demonstrate the readiness to meet credit commitments on time
- Have not been debarred or suspended from participating in federal programs
Before you start searching for houses, dreaming about homeownership, or even applying for a home loan, you need to get the facts about USDA loan limits in Polk County. This makes it easier to determine whether you qualify and how much you can afford based on your situation and other factors like your debt load and credit history.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture guarantees and regulates mortgage loans issued by local lending organizations—including banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies—in partnership with state and county governments. On most chances, your USDA loan won't have any stated limitations. For the USDA Direct Loan program, the 2022 loan limits are $336,500 in most parts of the country. Up to $970,800 in more expensive regions (high-cost areas).
Do USDA Home Loans Require PMI?
No. USDA home loans do not require PMI and have low down payment requirements. The USDA does charge a one-time mortgage insurance premium that ranges from 0.5% to 1% of the loan amount (depending on your down payment). However, the loan will require two types of mortgage insurance: an annual fee and an upfront guarantee fee.
Benefits of USDA Loans
When purchasing real estate in the United States, there are plenty of options available regarding financing. Each type of home loan comes with unique benefits and drawbacks, and it's important to weigh them before choosing the best option for your situation. USDA loans have been one popular choice in recent years, offering many great benefits you should consider when pursuing your homeownership dream. The following top benefits of applying for a USDA home loan will help you decide whether it would suit you and your family.
No Down Payment
Down payments can be tough to come by, especially if you're cash-strapped and just getting started in your career. Fortunately, one benefit of USDA loans is the zero down payment. This means you can get your loan approved faster and don't have to save any down payment money before starting your loan application.
No Monthly Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
One of the top benefits of applying for a USDA loan is that the mortgage doesn't require private mortgage insurance (PMI). After obtaining your loan from an approved lender, there will be no monthly PMI payments. This can save you a few dollars per month or more over conventional loans and make your homeownership more affordable.
Achievable Credit Score Requirement
Having good credit can be essential to getting approved. When applying for a loan, your credit score is one of the most critical pieces of information. While USDA loans don't have a fixed FICO score requirement, the typical minimum credit score requirement to apply for a USDA home loan is 620. However, it's important to remember that even if you don't meet that threshold, you may still be eligible if you have sufficient cash reserves and income.
Lower-Than-Market Interest Rate
The interest rate is always going to be lower than the market. Because your monthly payment will likely be more down than conventional loans, you'll have more money each month to use toward other financial goals. The low-interest rate on your loan will be fixed, so you won't have to worry about it changing unexpectedly. This is especially helpful if you're borrowing money when interest rates are rising (like now).
Favorable Loan Terms
The United States Department of Agriculture offers several loan programs that significantly benefit you more than other mortgage loan options. Because Uncle Sam backs these loans, there's less risk to banks issuing them, meaning they can offer more flexible terms than other mortgages. You'll get more extended repayment periods and borrower protections that aren't found on most traditional mortgages.
If you're getting ready to retire and plan on sticking around your home indefinitely or purchasing real estate with plans to make it your family residence over a long time, consider applying for a USDA loan. Compared to conventional and other private mortgages, USDA offers a longer payback period, with payment terms extending between 33 and 38 years. This extra longevity allows you to avoid paying thousands in interest and disburse slighter monthly mortgage payments until you pay off your loan entirely.
With a conventional loan, you will generally have to pay steep penalties if you want to pay off your mortgage early. This isn't true with a USDA loan, as there are no prepayment penalties. While there are some cases where prepayment penalties can apply, these are few and far between. So if you find yourself in financial hardship or planning on moving before you've paid off your loan, it's possible to pay off what you owe ahead of schedule without worrying about paying extra fees.
Rural Development Funding Support
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development provides funding and support to rural communities through loans, grants, and other programs. When applying for a USDA home loan, local veterans, military personnel, and other eligible frontline workers can obtain closing cost assistance of up to $25,000 from the Hometown Heroes loan program. These grants are designed to help with those extra closing costs involved in purchasing or refinancing your home. This is excellent news if you're a first-time buyer or have limited funds.
Top 5 Outdoor Activities To Do in Polk County, Florida
Polk County, Florida, is home to many great outdoor activities perfect for the whole family. Whether you want to get some fresh air or learn more about nature, these five activities are fun and educational experiences that the entire family will enjoy.
General James A. Van Fleet State Trail
If you're looking for a fun but relaxing trail that offers some fascinating history, look no further than General James A. Van Fleet State Trail. This beautiful trail runs along a former railroad line through Polk City and Auburndale. It's great for bicyclists and offers scenic views of Lakeland along its 29-mile route. This trail is a paved-rail trail, but it's also considered the most remote and rural trail in The Sunshine State. As you bike or walk along its scenic loop on its multi-use trails, there are many unique places to stop and enjoy a picnic lunch. The trail also connects to other trails, including Maitland Valley Trail and Florida's Central Rail Trail.
Legoland Florida Water Park
When it comes to outdoor activities, what's better than a water park? Legoland Florida Water Park is a unique water park with rides and activities for all ages. The water park includes aquatic amusements as well as thrill rides and playgrounds. With plenty of shade at convenient locations and lifeguards on duty at all times, you can rest assured that your children are safe and having fun. For adults who want to relax, reserve a cabana or lounge chair to get some sun while your kids have fun at splash zones for everyone to enjoy! Wear sunscreen and bring swimming gear if you want to go on any of their slides or other activity areas.
Situated in Winter Haven, it's convenient for families looking for something fun to do. From thrill slides to skating on their famous ice rink to feeding gators and feeding dolphins, Cypress Gardens offers many activities for those interested in outdoor fun. For skate enthusiasts, there are world-class roller coasters that take you 100 feet into the air at a speed of up to 40 miles per hour while offering an experience like no other.
For a stroll through natural beauty, head to Hollis Garden in Lakeland. This garden's architectural theme is a neo-classical layout, containing a diverse arrangement of flowers, statues, and fountains. While at the park, you can take one of the beautiful walking trails or bike paths for a relaxing outdoor experience. You can also enjoy live music on the lawn every Sunday evening during the summer months and an annual winter light show! You can also explore some of the city's best restaurants or grab a beer at one of many seaside pubs.
Balloons and Beyond
Consider jumping into a hot air balloon if you want something a little out of your comfort zone. Adventure is guaranteed as these crafts soar at heights of up to 8,000 feet! The feeling is unlike anything else, and the views are spectacular! Balloons and Beyond offer flights on their personalized hot air balloons and takes customers around Polk City, Lakeland, Haines City, Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Kissimmee, Cypress Gardens, Auburndale, Winter Haven, Tampa, and Sebring.
While there are plenty of options for first-time home buyers, USDA loans in Polk County, Florida, are one of the best deals for individuals who don't have money saved up to put down on their mortgage. It can be tough to find zero-down mortgages, but you don't have to worry about that when applying with the USDA. This government-backed loan program has been helping people like you buy their own homes for decades, and you can benefit from their expertise today! The only catch? You'll need to be buying your property in rural or suburban areas that are eligible for USDA loans, so you should check with your lender to see if they can help you out if you fall into this category.