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What Realtors Should Know About the USDA’s New Construction Loan Program

By Guest Author | September 1, 2018

Last year, 612,000 newly constructed homes were sold in the U.S., while existing homes were sold at nearly nine times that amount (5.51 million). As a real estate agent, the bulk of your work likely lies in listing and selling resale properties, but if you haven’t already been forced to consider other options for your buyers, you likely will soon. Factors like a record low housing inventory, soaring home prices, a lack of affordable housing, and an increasingly competitive market for first-time homebuyers have left many would-be buyers without a solution.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service is making one such solution more accessible to potential homebuyers, and it’s an option many who can’t find an existing home might not initially consider: new construction. The USDA’s single-close, construction-to-permanent mortgage program makes building a home a possibility for consumers of whom home construction was previously out of reach.

What does all of this mean for realtors? A few things:

Reach Clients Looking to Buy in Rural Areas
The USDA’s construction loan offering is aimed to spur construction lending in rural areas (populations up to 35,000). As a real estate agent, this can be particularly beneficial because it allows you to reach clientele in more sparsely populated locations, which might have previously been hard to reach due to a limited number of resale properties in those areas.

It might surprise you how many buyers are interested in living outside of the city if it means more land, a bigger home, and more bang for their buck. While the 2000s saw a shift in buyers moving to urban areas, the trend is reversing as the suburbs are now the most popular destination for all buyers across all generations—the driving force being millennials. The rise in conveniences like remote work and improved public transportation make rural and suburban living a reality for many in the home-buying market. Add to that the USDA’s mortgage program, and the possibility could be even more real for many of your current and potential clients.

Offer Another Option to Clients Who Qualify
According to a survey by NerdWallet and Harris Poll, 44 percent of Americans who don’t own a home cited a lack of down payment as a major obstacle to buying. The USDA’s construction loan not only allows qualified borrowers to build a custom home with no down payment, it also serves those who have lower income and credit scores. These three factors alone would typically prevent someone from buying an existing property, not to mention building a brand new home. The program enables realtors to work with low- to moderate-income applicants who might have previously been limited in the home-buying process.

Become More Involved in Land Sales
Whereas most construction loans won’t finance more than 10 acres of land, the USDA’s program imposes no limitations on the size of property. This opens a door for realtors who are already in land sales or are looking to expand their reach to include land sales. Perhaps you have a client who has been unable to find an existing home in their desired location. In this case, you could suggest a nearby piece of land. This allows clients to buy in the exact area of their choice and customize the home to fit their needs.

Attract More Clients
The USDA’s construction loan program certainly presents opportunities to expand offerings among your current clientele, but it also allows you to tap into new buyers altogether. Maybe you were previously constrained by limited listings in rural areas, perhaps you’ve had a difficult time finding a property for lower income buyers, or maybe you just needed an extra cherry on top of your land listings in order to make the sale.

You might also find that learning more about the USDA’s program and adding it to your book of business allows you to reach clients who didn’t even know they were looking for a new home! In a housing market that needs alternative solutions, the USDA’s construction loan program might be the means to help current and potential clients’ home-owning dreams come true. And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.

About Josh: Josh Biggs is the VP of Sales and Marketing for Adair Homes. Having spent more than 16 years in the housing industry – from lending and financing to home building – Josh is passionate about helping people achieve their dream of home ownership.

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