Kentucky Rural Housing USDA Implements Immediate Measures to Help Rural Housing Loan Program Affected by COVID-19
WASHINGTON, April 1, 2020 – USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural Development will keep our customers, partners, and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America.
* Visit www.rd.usda.gov/coronavirus for information on Rural Development loan payment assistance, application deadline extensions, and more.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMMEDIATE RELIEF
* Rural Development Guaranteed Loan Programs
Effective immediately until September 30, 2020, lenders may offer 180-day loan payment deferrals without prior agency approval for Business and Industry Loan Guarantees, Rural Energy for America Program Loan Guarantees, Community Facilities Loan Guarantees, and Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees. For additional information, see page 17721 of the March 31, 2020, Federal Register.
Rural Housing Service
Effective March 19, borrowers with USDA single-family housing Direct and Guaranteed loans are subject to a moratorium on foreclosure and eviction for a period of 60 days. This action applies to the initiation of foreclosures and evictions and to the completion of foreclosures and evictions in process.
Direct Loan Program:
• USDA has waived or relaxed certain parts of the application process for Single-Family Housing Direct Loans, including site assessments, and has extended the time period that certificates of eligibility are valid.
• A Direct Loan borrower who is experiencing a reduction of income by more than 10 percent can request a Payment Assistance package to see if he/she is eligible for payment assistance or for more assistance than currently received.
• Moratorium Assistance is available for Direct Loan borrowers experiencing medical bill expenses (not covered by insurance) or job loss because of COVID-19. Qualifying borrowers can receive a moratorium on house payments for a period of time, repaid at a later date.
• Direct Loan questions should be directed to USDA’s Customer Service Center at 800-414-1226 (7:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Eastern Time Monday-Friday) or https://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/loan-servicing. Call volume and wait times are high at this time.
Guaranteed Loan Program:
• Guaranteed Loan borrowers who are in default or facing imminent default due to a documented hardship can have payments reduced or suspended by their lender for a period not to exceed 12 months delinquency. Once the hardship is resolved, the lender can modify the loan to cure the delinquency or make up the missed payments based on the borrower’s individual circumstances.
•*USDA is granting lenders temporary exceptions pertaining to appraisals, repair inspections and income verification for the Single-Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program (SFHGLP) due to theCOVID-19 pandemic. Effective immediately, the following exception sto Agency guidance found atHB-1-3555 are in effect for a period of 60-days.
*Residential Appraisal Reports–Existing Dwelling: For purchase and non-streamlined refinance transactions, when an appraiser is unable to complete an interior inspection of an existing dwelling due to concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, an “Exterior-Only Inspection Residential Appraisal Report”, (FHLMC 2055/FNMA 2055) will be accepted. In such cases, appraisers are not required to certify that the property meets HUD HB 4000.1 standards. The appraisal must be completed in accordance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Practice (USPAP) and the Uniform Appraisal Dataset (UAD).This exception is not applicable to new construction properties or construction-to-permanent loans. As a reminder, appraisals are not required for streamlined and streamlined-assist refinance transactions.
*Repair Inspections–Existing Dwelling: For loans for which a completion certification is not available due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a letter signed by the borrower confirming that the work was completed is permitted. Lenders must also provide further evidence of completion, which may include photographs of the completed work, paid invoices indicating completion, occupancy permits or other substantially similar documentation. All completion documentation must be retained in the loan file. This exception is not applicable to rehabilitation and repair loans noted in section 12.28 of HB-1-3555.
*Verbal Verification of Employment: Lenders must document and verify the borrower’s annual and repayment income in accordance with Agency regulations. Lenders should use due diligence in obtaining the most recent income documentation to re-verify the borrower’s repayment ability prior to closing. When the lender is unable to obtain a Verbal Verification of Employment(VVOE)within 10 business days of loan closing due to a temporary closure of the borrower’s employment, alternatives should be explored. For example, email correspondence with the borrower’s employer is an acceptable alternative to a VVOE. If the lender is unable to obtain a VVOE or acceptable alternative, the requirement will be waived when the borrower has a minimum of two months cash reserves. In the case of a reduction of income, the borrower’s reduced income must be sufficient to support the new loan payment and other non-housing obligations. Borrowers with no income at the time of closing are not eligible for SFHGLP loans regardless of available cash reserves.
Section 504 Repair Loan and Grant Program for Kentucky USDA RHS Loans
If you missed the live webinar to learn about recent changes to the Section 504 Single-Family Housing Repair Loan and Grant Program, the presentation slides from the webinar are available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development’s website. This information is for individuals and organizations, including nonprofits and public agencies, who work with affordable housing products such as weatherization, home repairs, and Section 504 application packaging.
The slides will provide information on the following:
- An overview of recent changes to the Section 504 Single-Family Housing Repair Loan and Grant Program.
- Information on Procedure Notice 527 (published on August 29, 2019).
For a brief overview of the 504 program, please watch the USDA Helps You Make Home Repairs
Program Guidelines & Terms –Section 504 Loans
• Maximum outstanding 504 loan amount is $20,000
• Interest rate is fixed at 1%
• Maximum term of 20 years (term and payment is based upon the
• Appraisal and escrow account is required for loans over $15,000
• Flood insurance is required for properties located in a flood zone
• Mortgage, title work and closing agent required for loans of
$7,500 or more
• Mortgage is filed for loans of $7,500 and over
• Assets above $15,000 ($20,000 for elderly/disabled households)
must be applied toward repairs.
• Residential Mortgage Credit Reports are ordered by Agency for
loans of $7,500 and over (RMCR fee paid by Rural Development
General Eligibility Criteria – Section 504 Loans
• Household income must not exceed “very low” income
limits; < 50% HUD median income
• Applicant must own home (to include site when
considering manufactured housing) and occupy house on a
• Demonstrate repayment ability based upon a family budget
• Stable and dependable source of income
• Acceptable credit – reasonable ability and willingness to
meet debt obligations
• Meet asset limitations (15K non-elderly and $20K elderly*)
Program Guidelines & Terms –Section 504 Grant
• Maximum cumulative lifetime grant assistance is $7,500
• Grantee must sign Grant Agreement requiring occupancy
of home for 3 years
• No lien on property
• Repairs to remove health and safety hazards or to make the
home accessible and useable for household members with
General Eligibility Criteria – Section 504 Grants
• At least one applicant must be 62 years of age or older.
• Household income must not exceed “very low” income limits;
< 50% HUD median income
• Applicant must own home (to include site when considering
manufactured housing) and occupy house on a permanent basis
• Repairs must be necessary to remove health and safety hazards or
to make the home accessible and useable for household members
• Must demonstrate a lack of repayment ability based upon a
• Meet asset limitations (15K non-elderly and $20K elderly*)
• No outstanding federal judgments
SECTION 504 PROPERTY REQUIREMENTS
• Must be modest for the area; market value cannot be in
excess of USDA established area loan limit
• Property must be located in a designated rural area
• Must not have an in-ground swimming pool
• If the property has income producing land or structures, we
may use loan/grant funds as long as repairs are used for the
residential portion of the home.
• Mobile or manufactured homes must be on a permanent
foundation or be placed on a permanent foundation with
loan or grant funds.
For additional program Information, please visit the following USDA webpages:
- Kentucky USDA Increased Income Limits for 2019
- USDA Rural Development Housing Program
- Kentucky Rural Housing Development Mortgage Guide for 2019 USDA Loans
- Kentucky Rural Housing Development Mortgage Guide for 2019 USDA Loans
- USDA 100% – Rural Loans
This program once accounted for almost all the Section 502 loans, but the number of guaranteed loans has greatly increased in the last few years. In Fiscal Year 2001, the guaranteed program obligated approximately $2.3
billion for 29,326 loans, while the direct program obligated approximately $1.07 billion for a total of 14,789 loans. The important differences between the Section 502 guaranteed and direct loan programs are as follows:
The lender for Section 502 guaranteed loans is a private savings and loan institution, bank, or mortgage company which also handles all the loan servicing. The lender for the direct program is the Rural Housing Service; Rural Development handles the servicing.
Income levels for Section 502 guaranteed borrowers are capped at 115 percent of the area median income. Income levels for the direct program must be no more than 80 percent of the AMI. Payment assistance subsidy is not available
through the guaranteed program. Payment assistance, which can reduce the interest paid on the mortgage to as low as 1 percent, is available for borrowers in the direct program and is based on the borrower’s income as a percent of AMI.
Borrower protections differ between the programs. Applicants for guaranteed loans do not have the rights of moratorium or of appeal that accompany the direct program. Also, in the case of default, Section 502 guaranteed loans are liquidated by
the commercial lender, while direct loans are liquidated by the government
Rural Refinance Pilot Loan
Brief Pilot Description: The Rural Refinance Pilot is available to eligible borrowers who qualify to refinance their current USDA mortgage loans.
Under the Rural Refinance Pilot program, a lender does not need to submit a new credit report, new appraisal, any HUD Handbook minimum property determinations, or any additional property inspections.
Eligible “Hardest Hit” States: The following states may participate in the Rural Refinance Pilot: 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. Additional States are not eligible at this time.
Eligible Borrowers: Current Section 502 Direct or Guaranteed Loan borrowers must:
1. Meet current income eligibility requirements;
2. Reside in an eligible rural area or an area that was eligible at the time of the original loan closing; and
3. Have made timely mortgage payments for the 12-month period prior to the refinance. Overview of Rural Refinance Pilot Guidelines: 1. The existing loan must be a Section 502 Direct or Guaranteed loan. 2. The new interest rate must be a fixed rate 100 basis points below the current interest rate. 3. The new term of the refinance loan may not exceed thirty years from the date of closing
. 4. A Rural Refinance Pilot loan may only include the principal balance of the loan plus a portion of or the full upfront guarantee fee. The applicable upfront refinance guarantee fee is 1.5 percent. No cash out is permitted to the borrower. Accrued interest, closing costs, lender fees, and late fees are not eligible to be part of the refinance loan.
5. An annual fee also applies. For FY 2012 the applicable annual fee is .3 percent.
6. A new appraisal, new credit report, HUD Handbook determination and additional property inspections are not required. The original appraisal amount may be used from Guaranteed Loan System to process the loan.
7. Ratio calculations are not required. Therefore debt ratio waiver requests will not be necessary.
8. Rural Refinance Pilot loans must be manually underwritten. They cannot be processed through the Guaranteed Underwriting System.
9. Customary and reasonable closing costs and other fees may be collected from the borrower by the lender. Such charges may not exceed the cost paid by the lender or charged to the lender by the service provider. An origination fee of up to one percent of the total loan amount may be charged to the borrower.
10. All the following documentation is required:
a. Form RD 1980-21 “Request for Single Family Housing Loan Guarantee”.
b. Income verifications for all adult household members.
c. Uniform Residential Loan Application.
d. Evidence of qualified alien status, if applicable.
e. FEMA Form 81-93 “Standard Flood Hazard Determination.” Appropriate flood insurance must be obtained if the property is in a flood zone at the time of the new loan closing, even if the area was not in a flood zone at the time of the original loan closing. A flood elevation survey is not required.
f. Evidence of previous 12 month mortgage payment history. The lender must secure evidence to document the borrower(s) has paid the loan on time for the previous 12 months. The lender may utilize a Verification of Mortgage obtained from or provided directly by the loan servicer that lists the payment history for each of the previous 12 months. As an alternative, the lender may submit a credit report which reflects a satisfactory mortgage payment history over the past 12 months.
If the lender submits a credit report to Rural Development as proof of payment history, only the payment history of the current mortgage will be considered.
Credit waivers or explanations for adverse credit that may be present on the report are not required.
11. All additional requirements of RD Instruction 1980-D and applicable Administrative Notices continue to apply. Rural Development Responsibilities:
1. Request funding for the refinance if necessary by sending an email request to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the State and the amount of funding needed.
2. Retrieve original appraisal amounts in GLS when processing Rural Refinance Pilot transactions.
3. Review the previous 12-month mortgage payment history. If a credit report is submitted, only review the 12-month mortgage payment history.
If the mortgage account is currently delinquent or has been reported delinquent in the previous 12 months, the borrower is not eligible. Agency staff should use the “Borrower ID” with GLS Report “GLSST01: Status of a GRH Loan Account” to ensure the loan is currently active and not in default.
4. Enter 0 in the “FICO Score” data field when processing a Rural Refinance Pilot application. 5. Enter the repayment income calculation in GLS, but do not include any “Additional Liabilities” amounts.
In the event the new mortgage payment results in ratios above 29 and/or 41 percent, check the box that indicates a debt ratio waiver has been issued by the Agency. 6.
In the “Agency Notes” section of the GLS Application screen enter “Rural Refinance Pilot Loan.” This will identify the loan as part of this pilot in the event of a loan review. 7.