USDA Streamline Refinance Program : No Credit Scores, No Appraisals
The popular USDA Streamline Refinance Program has been expanded to include 15 additional states, giving thousands people access to an appraisal-less, unlimited-LTV refinance. Approximately one-half million homeowners are now eligible for the USDA's streamlined refinance program.
Plus, with mortgage rates lower than for a comparable HARP loan via Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, homeowners using the USDA Streamline Refinance stand to save as much as 35% annually on their mortgage.
About The USDA Streamline Refinance Program
The USDA Streamline Refinance is a pilot program for U.S. homeowners, first launched in 2012.
The streamlined program meant to mirror pre-existing, successful streamlined programs such as the FHA Streamline Refinance from the FHA, the VA Streamline Refinance (IRRRL) from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the aforementioned HARP program from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Qualifying hurdles are low, underwriting is fast, and closings are typically scheduled within 3 weeks.
The USDA enforces only a few eligibility standards :
- The home you're refinancing must be your primary residence
- The home you're refinancing must be mortgaged via a USDA Direct Home Loan or a USDA Guaranteed Home Loan
- Prior to applying, you must have made 12 consecutive on-time payments
That's it. There is no credit report requirement, no home appraisal requirement, and no property inspection requirements. All credit scores are accepted into the USDA Streamline Refinance program, and your home's loan-to-value is ignored 100%.
You can be underwater on your home and still qualify for the program.
When the USDA Streamline Refinance program was first introduced, the government limited its geographic range to 19 states which were identified as the "hardest hit" by the economic downturn.
Those states were Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Later, the range of the pilot program was expanded to include an additional 15 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; states identified as having a very high percentage of poor counties.
The 15 additional states are Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The pilot program ends February 28, 2014, unless extended by the USDA.
Other USDA Streamline Refinance Notes
The USDA has removed most qualification standards for its USDA Streamline Refinance program, but there remains a few program guidelines of which USDA homeowners should be aware.
For example, as with all USDA home loans, streamlined refinances will require the standard up-front loan fees, plus the annual guarantee fees to the USDA. Many USDA homeowners pay these fees already, but it's worth noting nonetheless.
In addition, USDA homeowners should be aware that :
- Flood insurance is required for homes in a flood zone
- The pilot program requires that your mortgage rate drop by 1 percentage point or more
- Loans are available for 30-year terms only -- no 15-year or 20-year loan terms are allowed
And, lastly, the USDA Streamline Refinance program is a rate-and-term refinance program only.
Cash-out mortgages are not allowed via the pilot program, nor are loan consolidations of a first and second lien (e.g. HELOC). This is similar to how the respective streamlined refinance programs of the FHA and VA, and HARP are structured.
USDA Program To Become Permanent?
The USDA Streamline Refinance program was launched in 2012 as a two-year pilot program expiring February 28, 2014. Within weeks, then, the USDA will determine whether to extend, to modify, to make permanent, or to terminate the program which has helped U.S. homeowners in rural and suburban areas nationwide.
If you live in one of the 35 pre-approved states, take a look at the USDA Streamline Refinance Program. Today's mortgage rates are excellent and the program may not last. Get started with a rate quote and free, no-obligation eligibility check here.