Updated February 28, 2018
Did you know that you can use a USDA loan to buy a Tampa Bay home located in an area that’s not really rural?
Yes, Tampa Bay cities like Apollo Beach, Riverview, Wesley Chapel, Land O Lakes are not really rural in the strictest sense of the word, right? But there are a lot of homes in these cities that are eligible for USDA home financing. These places have grown and developed at a pace much faster than how the USDA has adjusted its definition of rural areas.
Based on the MyFlorida MLS, there had been 637 Tampa Bay homes purchased with USDA home loans over the 5-year period since January 2012. The locations of these homes are as follows:
Pasco — 315 homes
Hillsborough — 210 homes
Hernando — 106 homes
Pinellas — 6 homes
What Tampa Bay cities have had homes purchased with USDA loans in the past 5 years?
The cities with the most homes purchased with USDA home loans were:
Land O Lakes — 88 homes
Zephyrhills — 71 homes
Dade City — 48 homes
Wesley Chapel — 47 homes
Lutz — 18 homes
Ruskin — 52 homes
Riverview — 43 homes
Plant City — 37 homes
Wimauma — 19 homes
Apollo Beach — 18 homes
Spring Hill — 39 homes
Brooksville — 37 homes
Weeki Wachee — 15 homes
St. Petersburg — 3 homes
What are the advantages of using a USDA home loan?
1. No Down Payment
If you have not saved for a down payment for a home and you really need to move into a home, the USDA home loan is your remedy.
2. Low fixed interest rate
The USDA has made it possible for lenders to grant you loans with a term of up to 30 years with low interest rates. Your monthly payment will not increase over the entire term of the loan due to an increase in interest rate.
3. Can close in one to two months
If all documents are in order, you can get into your home sooner.
Of the 13 Hillsborough homes purchased for at least $200,000 in 2016 with a USDA home loan, based on Florida MLS data, the average number of days from contract date to closing date is 52 days. The median number of days is 49. The longest closing took 87 days and the shortest took only 8 days.
4. Not-so-high credit score requirement
The minimum credit score considered is 620. But if you have a score of 640 or higher, your chance of getting a USDA loan approval will be greater. A lower score might qualify if there are other factors that can compensate for the lower score.
5. You can get help with your closing costs. You can roll your closing costs in to your home loan, up to the appraised value of the home, as long as the appraised value is higher than the sales price.
6. There’s no set maximum loan amount limit. The loan amount will depend on the home’s sales price and appraised value and your debt and income.
Over the past 5 years, based on Florida MLS data, the costliest homes purchased with a USDA loan in Pasco County were priced at $330,000 and $280,000, both sold in 2015.
In Hillsborough, the costliest were priced at $550,000 (a Westchase home sold in October 2014) and $320,000 (a Lithia home sold in November 2016).
In Hernando, the costliest was priced at $187,000.
7. If you later on decide to sell your home and pay off your loan, there will be no prepayment penalty.
Who are eligible for a USDA home loan?
1. You must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. non-citizen national, or a qualified alien.
2. You must occupy the home you’re buying as a primary residence.
3. You must buy a home located in a USDA-eligible area, in good move-in condition as defined by USDA and not having a feature, extension or parcel that earns income.
4. Your income must not be higher than the limits set by USDA for a particular area.
In the Tampa Bay area, the maximum annual income limit for a household with one to four members is $75,650.
The maximum annual income limit for a household with five to eight members is $99,850.
The limits will be increased if there are more than 8 household members. Income will be adjusted if there are members who are under 18 years old, disabled or full-time students.
5. You have the legal capacity to apply for a home loan.
6. You have not been suspended or prohibited from participating in federal programs.
7. You must pass the credit and debt-to-income ratio requirements of the USDA. The minimum credit score is 620 and the maximum debt-to-income ratios are 29/41. Your total monthly housing cost must not exceed 29% of your gross monthly income, and your total monthly debt payments, including your monthly housing cost, must not exceed 41% of your gross income.
If needed, your lender will explain to you how these requirements can be compensated by other factors.
How do we start to apply?
Prepare your income documents and then ask us, tampa4u.com, to connect you with a USDA-approved lender in the Tampa Bay area.
Basic income documents are your:
. Tax returns for the past 2 years (All pages; sign page 2 with date)
. W2 documents for the past 2 years
. Bank statements for the past 2 months
. Pay stubs for the past 3 months
. Copy of Driver’s license
. Copy of Social Security card
Your lender will inform you about additional documents and forms required.
Which lenders are USDA-approved lenders in the Tampa Bay area?
American Nationwide Mortgage Co., Inc.
3820 Northdale Blvd., Suite 111 A
Tampa FL 33624
Eagle Home Mortgage, LLC
15550 Lightwave Drive
Clearwater FL 33760
First Home Bank
5010 W Kennedy Blvd. Suite 100
Tampa FL 33609
Metroplex Mortgage Services, Inc
8622 North Himes Ave.
Tampa FL 33614
Residential Acceptance Corp.
5100 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa FL 33609
4790 140th Avenue North
Clearwater FL 33762
There are other lenders that are also USDA-approved. According to the USDA Florida office, all lenders can participate in the USDA home loan program, as long as they are USDA-approved, or they use lenders that are on the approved list. We can refer you to our recommended lenders.
You can also call the Davenport office, which is servicing the Tampa
Bay area and nearby counties:
Davenport Area Office
2629 Waverly Barn Road, Suite 129
Davenport, Florida 33897
Phone: (863) 420-4833
Fax: (855) 474-8230
Can I know if a particular home is eligible for a USDA home loan?
Yes, you can ask us. Just find your dream home here: tampa4u.com, click “Request More Info” then ask us to check if the home is eligible for a USDA home loan.
Please note though that this eligibility determination is NOT FINAL, even if we’re using the USDA Property Eligibility webpage. The USDA says that its online eligibility determination system is not guaranteed. It says that final determination of property eligibility will be made by the USDA Rural Development upon receipt of a complete application.