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USDA Eligibility Map: A Mortgage Search Tool

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The USDA Eligibility Map is a free tool that shows which U.S. homes may qualify for a USDA mortgage.

USDA mortgages are backed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA mortgages cater to first-time home buyers with lower interest rates and no down payment requirement.

The USDA map lets you quickly see whether a home you want to buy is potentially USDA-eligible.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last Verified: September 22, 2023

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How To Use The Homebuyer.com USDA Eligibility Map

Step 1: Enter A Home Address

To use the Homebuyer.com USDA Eligibility Map, begin typing the address of a home. The home-buying tool will auto-complete and verify your provided address against the list of all known addresses. 

If you need help with the exact address of a home, include as much information as possible, including house number, street, city, and state – the map will suggest your probable matches.

Once your address is selected, the map locates the home and shows it on the map.

Step 2: Review the USDA Eligibility Status

After it locates the subject property address, the USDA Eligibility Map will show whether the selected home is eligible for a USDA mortgage. 

The home-buying tool provides two possible results: eligible and ineligible.

Eligible homes are in a rural census tract or division, as the U.S. Census Bureau defines. 

  • Fewer than 2,000 housing units or 5,000 people
  • Fewer than 500 residents per square mile
  • Not more than 425 housing units per square mile
  • Not within a half-mile radius of an airport with 2,500 passengers or more per year

All non-rural homes, known as urban homes, are ineligible for USDA lending.

Additional Requirements for USDA-Eligible Homes

USDA Mortgages In 90 Seconds Or Less

Homes that fall in USDA mortgage zones must also meet three other criteria to be USDA-eligible.

The first additional USDA eligibility standard for homes is property type. Homes must be zoned for single-family residency and must be the buyer’s primary residence within 60 days of settlement.

Eligible home types for USDA loans include existing single-family homes, new construction single-family homes, modular homes, townhomes, and certain manufactured homes.

2-4 unit homes and investment and commercial properties are ineligible. 

The second additional USDA eligibility standard for homes is property condition. USDA-eligible homes must be in decent condition and meet the USDA’s safety, structural, and sanitary standards. 

The third eligibility standard is home size. 

While the USDA does not enforce a maximum square footage requirement or a loan size limit, USDA homes should be modest with only limited excessive features. Homes that are relatively large or expensive for the area are typically not eligible for USDA loans.

Lastly, home buyers using USDA mortgages must meet specific income and credit score requirements, as outlined in the article “What Is A USDA Loan?” 

Common USDA Eligibility Map Questions

Readers send us questions about USDA eligibility via our chat and on the Homebuyer.com YouTube channel. Here are some of the common ones.

How often is the USDA Eligibility Map updated?

The USDA Eligibility Map is updated when rural area boundaries change. There is no fixed schedule for USDA updates. Revisit the map regularly for accurate information.

Can I use a USDA mortgage to buy a mobile or manufactured home?

Yes, some manufactured homes qualify for a USDA mortgage. Manufactured homes must meet the USDA’s structural and safety requirements. They must be permanently installed on a foundation and connected to necessary utilities.

Can I use a USDA mortgage for an investment property or a vacation home?

No, USDA mortgages are for primary residences only. Investment properties, vacation homes, and short-term rentals do not meet USDA eligibility standards.

Do I have to be a first-time homebuyer to use a USDA mortgage?

No, USDA mortgages are not limited to first-time home buyers. First-time and repeat homebuyers who meet the USDA’s income and credit requirements can apply for USDA home loans.

Is there leniency for homes close to USDA-eligible areas?

USDA mortgages are for homes in USDA Eligible Areas only. Homes outside of a USDA-eligible area are ineligible. Use the USDA Eligibility Map to find other nearby homes that meet the location requirement.

Can I still apply for a USDA mortgage with a low credit score?

Yes, USDA mortgages are for buyers of all credit types. However, buyers must meet USDA income requirements, and some lenders apply a minimum credit score to USDA mortgage applications.

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Stay Updated with USDA Eligibility Changes

The USDA updates its eligibility maps regularly as areas grow and change. You can sign up for Homebuyer.com’s email newsletter to keep up-to-date. We send updates and news about USDA mortgages and other helpful information for first-time home buyers.

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