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USDA Rural Development has announced that with the recent approval of the federal budget for Fiscal Year 2011, money is available for home purchases that offer no down payment and low interest rates for qualifying applicants in rural communities.

In Nebraska, more than $163 million has been allocated for the USDA Rural Development home loan programs for fiscal year 2011, up from 2010 when $104 million in home purchase loans were financed through the USDA housing programs in rural Nebraska.

Individuals or families must be within income guidelines that are established for each county. Potential home buyers must have a stable source of income, meet repayment guidelines and have an acceptable credit history. Although there is no minimum credit score, applicants with a 640 credit score or higher receive streamlined credit reviews.

Properties eligible for Rural Development financing must be in rural communities, which are those communities with a population of 20,000 or less; but include Columbus and Norfolk. You can visit the Agency eligibility website at http://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov to determine if you are within the established income limit based on the size of household and county and if the property is located within an eligible area.

The direct homeownership loan program provides a long-term fixed-interest rate, currently 4.625 percent. Eligible applicants for the direct program cannot exceed 80 percent of the county median income. For example, a four person household in many counties in Nebraska cannot exceed $43,350; some counties may have higher income limits.

Mortgage payments are adjusted according to household income; therefore the effective interest rate paid by the homeowner may be further reduced through interest rate subsidy to qualified applicants, to as low as 1 percent. Maximum mortgage limits apply for home purchases from $145,000 - $170,000 in Nebraska, depending on the county. Households interested in the Direct homeownership loan program should contact their local USDA Rural Development office. Visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/ne to locate the office nearest you.

USDA also offers a Guarantee Loan Program that provides 100 percent financing with competitive interest rates. Loans through the guarantee program are made through approved conventional lenders. A list of approved lenders is available at www.rurdev.usda.gov/ne on the Guaranteed Home Ownership Loan page. The guarantee enables the lender to offer more affordable mortgage terms. Eligible applicants for the Guarantee program cannot exceed 115 percent of the median county income.

For most counties, a one to four person household can have income up to $74,050 and five to eight person households with income up to $97,750, although some counties may have higher income limits.

Contact Judy James for counties of Cass, Gage Johnson, Lancaster, Otoe, Richardson, Nemaha, Pawnee, Jefferson, Seward and Saline County, Rural Development office, 402-423-9683 Ext 4, 8000 South 15th Street, Suite E, Lincoln, NE 68512; Email- judy.james@ne.usda.gov

Contact Delbert Virchow for counties of Butler, Clay, Douglas, Fillmore, Hamilton, Polk, Nuckolls, Sarpy, Saunders, Thayer, Washington and York County, Rural Development office, 402-423-9683, Ext 4, 8000 South 15th Street, Suite E, Lincoln, NE 68512; Email delbert.virchow@ne.usda.gov

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