May 072016

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By G. Steven Bray

The USDA recently announced that for fiscal year 2017 (which begins on Oct 1st) it’s dropping the fees it charges for its guaranteed rural housing loans. Currently, USDA charges an upfront guarantee fee of 2.75% of the loan amount and an annual fee, or monthly mortgage insurance (MI), of 0.5%. On Oct 1st, those rates drop to 1% and 0.35%. That really is a huge change.

So, how would that affect a potential homebuyer? Let’s say you’re trying to buy a $180k home. Remember the USDA program doesn’t require a down payment, and most folks roll the upfront guarantee fee into the loan, so we have a roughly $185k mortgage. Using today’s fees, the monthly principal, interest, and MI payment would be about $908.

Okay, what if the fees are at 2017 levels? The monthly payment drops to $869. Over the life of the 30-year loan, that $39/m adds up to more than $14k in savings.

I find the timing of the announcement interesting. Based on our experience, USDA has lost of lot of market share to FHA, which lowered its mortgage insurance rates last year. While I suspect the announcement will shut down use of the program for the summer, maybe it will build some anticipation for it again in the fall.

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