Mortgage Daily

Published On: December 15, 2022

Methods for USDA Loan Approval

Previously an obscure lending program, the USDA loan is now favored by home buyers who might have otherwise chosen an FHA loan.

USDA requires no down payment, but FHA demands a 3.5% down payment; mortgage insurance is less expensive, and interest rates are frequently lower.

However, many homebuyers are curious about the USDA loan approval process.

Fortunately, obtaining one is comparable to getting any other loan.

How USDA Loans Operate

USDA house loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (thus the name) to encourage economic growth in rural areas of the United States.

People who own houses are more likely to purchase home-related products and services and to remain in the community for longer.

Homeownership stabilizes the neighborhood and local economy.

To apply for this guaranteed loan, you need not seek a government agency. The USDA endorses lenders around the nation to issue these loans.

If a lender offers FHA and conventional loans, it also offers USDA loans.

How Long Does It Take for USDA Loan Approval?

Depending on the circumstances, USDA loan clearance might take anywhere from a few weeks to over a month – typically 30 to 60 days. Your loan officer should be able to provide you with an approximate timeline.

Here is a basic description of the USDA loan approval process and how long each stage can take (though these durations can vary greatly depending on the lender’s workload, the complexity of your application, and other factors):

  1. Apply with a lender recognized by the USDA (30 minutes)
  2. Provide the lender with details on your income, assets, and credit history (1 day)
  3. Lender issues a pre-approval (3 to 7 days.)
  4. You locate a home in a USDA-eligible region (timing depends on the home market)
  5. The lender examines the assessment and any further requirements (1 week)
  6. The lender submits the information to the USDA office in your state for approval (1 day)
  7. The USDA performs a final “sign-off” (a few days to a few weeks)
  8. The lender does the final underwriting and approval.
  9. You sign closing paperwork sent by the lender to the escrow business (1 week)
  10. After signing on the day of closure, the property is yours.

Obtaining a USDA loan will “feel” identical to obtaining any other mortgage for the applicant.

USDA Loan Approval Procedure

Qualifying for a USDA home loan is similar to qualifying for other types of loans, with the addition of one additional step: the USDA must accept your loan application.

Here is a summary of the USDA’s loan approval procedure:

  • Locate and qualify with a lender recognized by the USDA
  • Request pre-approval
  • Find a house in a remote region that qualifies.
  • Make a proposal
  • Proceed with the underwriting procedure
  • Complete your new mortgage

USDA Mortgage Lender Pre-qualification

Pre-qualification with a USDA-approved lender is a crucial initial step in the loan application procedure.

Only some lenders participate in the USDA loan program. Borrowers who try to discover a lender specializing in USDA mortgage loans will surely benefit from their knowledge, particularly throughout the underwriting and approval procedures.

After pre-qualification, your lender will estimate how much you may borrow and if you fulfill eligibility standards.

Your loan officer will likely want information on your intended loan amount, monthly income, and monthly bills. At this preliminary pre-qualification stage, they may also pull your credit score.

Credit Rating

Your credit score determines the interest rate on your loan; the better your credit score, the better your interest rate, and the cheaper your mortgage payments.

Therefore, if repairing your credit history would save money on your loan’s monthly installments, the pre-qualification will offer you time to do so.

While no minimum credit score is needed to qualify for a USDA mortgage, most qualified lenders want a FICO score of at least 640.

After your lender has validated your eligibility, the following stage in the USDA loan approval procedure is pre-approval.

USDA House Loan Pre-approval

Your lender will determine your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) and confirm how much you may borrow against the purchase price of a new home during the pre-approval process.

In addition, your lender will verify your family income using your financial documents, such as:

  • Forms W-2, Forms 1099, and Tax Returns
  • Pay stubs
  • Bank statements and asset statements
  • Social Security number, picture identification, and other fundamental financial data

Before attending open houses and house searching, obtaining pre-approval for a loan is essential. Most sellers and real estate brokers want to know if they are dealing with a serious buyer with a pre-approval letter from a lender.

Find a House in a Qualifying Area

The USDA rural development loan encourages homeownership in eligible rural regions for first-time homebuyers and existing borrowers, as the name indicates.

In addition to property requirements, however, USDA house loans include income restrictions.

USDA Property Qualification Criteria

All USDA-approved properties must be situated in a qualified rural region, per USDA regulations.

However, many first-time homebuyers need to be more satisfied with the number of qualified properties. The USDA classifies approximately 97% of the United States landmass as rural.

Here are the specific standards for property eligibility that borrowers should anticipate:

  • Only single-family homes are permitted.
  • The home must be your primary abode.
  • The home must be in an approved region.

USDA Income Eligibility

In addition to meeting property qualifying requirements, your household income must also meet USDA income restrictions.

Keep in mind that income restrictions vary based on your household size and the median income in the area where your USDA-approved property is situated.

In 2021, the yearly income limitations for homebuyers in Poughkeepsie, New York, and Twin Falls, Idaho, vary by around $23,000.

Idaho’s Twin Falls County

  • $191,900 for a 1 to 4-person home
  • $121,300 for five or more person households

New York Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown

  • $114,850 for a household of 1 to 4
  • $151,600 for a home with five or more people

Therefore, if you are house-hunting near Twin Falls, your family income cannot surpass your neighbors’ estimated $91,900 median income, according to the USDA.

Explore here the USDA income restrictions for your region. *CTA*

In addition to dealing with lenders with USDA loan origination expertise, using real estate agents with a comparable background will assist you in quickly and efficiently identifying qualifying homes.

Make a Proposal

After finding your desired house, you will collaborate with your real estate agent and lender to submit an offer.

Your lender will arrange a house appraisal if the seller accepts your offer. Unlike a house inspection, the appraisal is a prerequisite for USDA loan acceptance.

The appraiser will determine the home’s market value and confirm that it fulfills USDA requirements.

Your lender will want to ensure that the home’s appraised worth exceeds the purchase price.

Before closing, any difficulties with the appraised value or property, not following USDA regulations, must be resolved.

Procedure for USDA Loan Underwriting

Once you and the seller have signed a purchase agreement, you are under contract, and your loan originator will begin underwriting your new mortgage.

Be advised that the underwriting procedure for USDA mortgages may take longer than conventional mortgages. Due to the last stage in the USDA loan approval procedure, this is the case.

Allow Additional Time for the USDA Loan Procedure

There is only one additional step required to obtain USDA loan approval, compared to other loan types. This is the additional review by the USDA office in your state.

With an FHA loan, a VA loan, or a conventional loan, the lender is solely responsible for approving and closing the transaction. USDA, however, demands a physical inspection by U.S. Staff of the Department of Agriculture.

Depending on the number of outstanding applications at your neighborhood USDA office, the application procedure might take several days or weeks.

Before committing to a closing date, consult your lender. The lender should be aware of how long your local USDA department currently needs for final approval. Be cautious regarding your closing date.


Today is the big day. During closing, you will sign loan paperwork, confirm that all payments for closing costs have been placed in escrow, and prepare to get the keys to your new home.

Procedure for USDA Direct Loan approval

As the name implies, USDA Direct Loans are guaranteed directly by the USDA, as opposed to a mortgage provider.

Direct loans are guaranteed loans intended to assist low-income and very-low-income households in achieving their goal of homeownership by increasing a household’s ability to make payments.

According to the USDA, purchasers must meet the following requirements to qualify for a direct loan:

  • Not having access to safe and hygienic housing.
  • Be disqualified for loans from other lenders with reasonable terms and conditions.
  • Agreement to make the house their primary residence
  • Meet citizenship or noncitizen eligibility requirements.

In addition, direct loans include property qualifying restrictions, such as:

  • The size of the home must be proportional to the lot size.
  • Home worth cannot exceed the area’s market value of the maximum loan limit.
  • Homes are not permitted to have in-ground swimming pools.
  • Home cannot be developed for income-generating purposes (like rentals)

Even though the USDA backs USDA Direct Loans, homebuyers should still anticipate a 30-to-60-day approval period.

Check Your Eligibility for Usda Benefits

USDA loans are the mortgage industry’s best-kept secret. Those who learn about it immediately understand that it is likely superior to FHA and conventional loans.

The loan is subject to income and location requirements, though. The most straightforward approach to get started is obtaining a USDA rate estimate, which accompanies a comprehensive eligibility check by a USDA lender.



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