Posted 06/29/2017


USDA Loans : Eligible Geographic Areas

USDA Loan Series - Eligibility Maps

Tim Lucas

The Mortgage Reports Contributor

USDA Loan Eligibility Is Location-Based

There aren't many zero-down loans available in the market these days.

Only two major programs -- the VA loan and USDA mortgage -- allow for no down payment.

The VA loan requires eligible military service, but the USDA loan's eligibility is based on something else: location of the property.

These loans were created to spur economic development in less-dense areas of the U.S. (hence the "other" name -- Rural Development, or RD loan). As such, buyers can use the loan within certain geographical boundaries as published on USDA's eligibility maps.

So, how do you find an eligible property? It's easier than you think.

Verify your USDA loan eligibility (Feb 22nd, 2018)

Geographic Eligibility For A USDA Mortgage

The USDA maintains interactive eligibility maps online for easy search. Areas shaded in tan are ineligible. Homes outside those areas can be purchased with a zero-down USDA loan.

You can pinpoint an address or browse neighborhoods and cities.

This sample of Dallas-Fort Worth shows the vast USDA-eligible areas outside densely populated centers.

Dallas FW USDA eligible areas sample map

A view south of Portland, Oregon shows eligible suburban areas.

Portland OR USDA Eligibility Map

Some states are almost entirely eligible, as this view of Wyoming reveals.

Wyoming USDA Eligibility Map

A full 97% of U.S. land mass is USDA-eligible, representing 109 million people. What's more, some solidly suburban areas qualify because the maps haven't been significantly updated since the 2000 census.

Maps are set to be reviewed again in 2017, so it's wise to obtain your USDA loan before these very generous geographic boundaries change.

Read more about USDA mortgages here.

"There's No Way My Area Is Eligible"

This is what suburban home buyers typically think before they search eligibility maps.

Often, they discover USDA-eligible homes within 30 minutes of their workplace.

As stated above, map boundaries are still based on population numbers from nearly 20 years ago. Technically, to be USDA-eligible a city or town must:

  • Have a population of less than 20,000
  • Be rural in character
  • Have a lack of available credit.

Yet, new rules still classify an area as rural if its population is below 35,000, until information is received from the 2020 census.

Cities with considerable population remain eligible for the Rural Housing loan -- for the time being.

Check Your USDA Eligibility

USDA loans offer extreme value in today's home buying market.

They are geared toward those who make modest incomes, and therefore, underwriting standards are lenient. Check your eligibility, and buy a home with zero down.

Verify your USDA loan eligibility (Feb 22nd, 2018)

Tim Lucas

The Mortgage Reports Contributor

Tim Lucas has helped thousands of families buy and refinance real estate. He has been featured in Time,, Scotsman Guide,, and more. Connect with Tim on Twitter.

The information contained on The Mortgage Reports website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by Full Beaker. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of Full Beaker, its officers, parent, or affiliates.

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2018 Conforming, FHA, & VA Loan Limits

Mortgage loan limits for every U.S. county, as published by Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)