Jeffery Birkenseer | San Rafael Real Estate, Novato Real Estate, San Anselmo Real Estate


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers multiple housing assistance programs for people hoping to achieve home ownership.

In spite of being offered by the USDA, you don’t need to be a farmer or rancher of any kind to qualify for a home loan. Similarly, you don’t have to buy a home miles from civilization--many popular, thickly-settled suburbs across the country also qualify for USDA programs.

In this article, we’re going to explain the different programs offered by the USDA, how to check your eligibility, how to find out which locations qualify, and how to get started with a loan.

USDA Assistance Programs

The USDA offers two types of home loans for prospective buyers. The direct program, or Section 502 Direct Loan Program, is designed to help low-income persons to acquire safe, affordable housing. The assistance for this loan comes in the form of a subsidy that can be applied directly to the applicant’s mortgage, reducing monthly mortgage payments for a certain period of time.

Another type of home loan offered by the USDA is the Single Family Home Guarantee. Much like an FHA or first-time homeowner’s loan, this type of mortgage is insured by the government. As a result, buyers can often qualify for lower interest rates and smaller down payments from their lenders.

Guarantees may be applied towards the purchase, rebuilding, or building of a rural home as an incentive to developing rural areas. Later, we’ll talk about what is considered “rural.”

Outside of help with buying homes, the USDA also provides grants and loans for repairing and modernizing rural homes.

Who is eligible for USDA mortgage assistance?

In general, those applying for USDA assistance must meet certain criteria. Applicants must meet income eligibility, be a U.S. citizen or qualified noncitizen, and must purchase a qualifying property.

For the Direct loan program, applicants must be without safe or sanitary housing and be unable to secure housing through other means. Whereas for USDA guaranteed loans, applicants need only fall under the maximum income limit.

To find out if you’re eligible immediately, fill out an eligibility form from the USDA.

How do I know which houses qualify?

Generally speaking, homes located within large, metropolitan cities won’t qualify for USDA loans. However, suburbs just outside of some larger cities often do. For example, towns located just a half hour’s drive outside of Boston have a good chance of being eligible.

To view the map of property eligibility, simply fill out the online eligibility form.

How Do I Get Started?

If you’re seeking a direct loan, you’ll have to contact your local Rural Development office. Applications for a direct loan are accepted year-round and are awarded based on funding availability.

For people looking for a private loan guaranteed by the USDA, applicants should contact an approved lender in the area. The lender will then work with the USDA loan specialist in your state.


Are you a lover of all things Disney? Do you wish that you could be in Disney more often than not? Well Disney lovers rejoice! There are simple ways to add subtle and classy touches of Disney into your home, inside and out. Here’s how to add subtle hints of Disney to your home: Art: Disney has stunning pieces of artwork and sculpture for sale in their parks and online. There are various artists that create these works of art for Disney and the themes vary. You can find Mickey and Minnie, theme park, attraction, and other character themed pieces and in all different sizes. There’s even artwork for various seasons and holidays such as Christmas and fall. There are pieces to fit all styles from vintage to classic that would look great in entryways, bedrooms, bathrooms, and bedrooms. Family Room, Bed & Bath Accessories: Small signs, accent pillows, throws, a toothbrush holder, and towels are among the many accessories available for living spaces. bedrooms and bathrooms. Add accent pillows to your couches and beds, small signs to your nightstand and shelves, and a toothbrush holder and decorative towels to your bathroom. Kitchen Accessories: There are so many great kitchen accessories that you can purchase in the parks and online. There are items ranging from salt and pepper shakers and silverware to wine glasses, mugs, plates and dishes, hand towels, and so much more. Create a small display of the various Disney mugs from the resorts you’ve stayed at or display Disney plates in your dining room or kitchen. Outdoor Accessories: Disney and other retailers sell various types of accessories for the outdoors. Items such as lawn gnomes, string lights, and solar lighting are great ways to add a little Disney magic to your outdoors. From Mickey and Minnie, Goofy and Donald Duck to theme park and attraction themed items, your possibilities for brining Disney home are endless. And with so many possibilities you can add the touches of Disney that you love the most.

If you’re a health nut, where you live may be a big factor for you. The neighborhood that you choose could have some impact on your health and lifestyle choices. Your neighborhood will need the amenities that you crave like places for exercise, access to healthy food, and sidewalks for walking. These aspects also add to the community sense that you feel within the neighborhood. Children’s parks, people who go on frequent strolls, and a sense of people spending time outside often are all signs of a “healthy” neighborhood. Below, we’ll delve into these key factors. 


Sidewalks And Bike Trails


Being able to do daily errands on foot along with access to easy outdoor exercise is important to a healthy lifestyle. These amenities provide safety and the ability to access what you need without a car. You can even find public transportation easier to get to and from. As a bonus, you’ll be doing something good for the environment, saving gas and staying out of traffic.  


Nature Is Abundant


Don’t underestimate how much healthier being around nature can make you feel. From lush trees, to parks, gardens, hiking trails, even golf courses all provide access to active activities and natural beauty. Even community gardens are a part of nature that can be good for your health. Having the opportunity to grow or even be around the inspiration of people growing and caring for their own food sources is good for you. The more access you have to nature in the place that you’re living, the healthier that you’ll be.  


Check Out The Social Scene


Sometimes you can get a sense of a neighborhood just by observing it. Are people making connections and out and about together, or do people seem to go off more on their own? Socializing is an important part of health and well-being. Some signs of socially friendly neighborhoods:


  • People are out walking their dogs, chatting
  • Neighbors are out together gathering in a front yard



Gyms And Healthy Food Are Readily Available


Do you see your favorite organic grocery store nearby? Having access to the type and quality of food you crave is important. Maybe there is an abundance of vegetarian and vegan restaurant options nearby. For those days that a workout outside just won’t do, having a gym close by is also a sign of a healthy neighborhood.    

 

Check Out The Traffic


A neighborhood can have all of the above, yet if it has a lot of traffic, you could have a huge issue. Lots of traffic brings two different kinds of pollution- noise and air. Not having access to quiet spaces can often increase stress levels. If you have allergies or asthma, being around a lot of traffic pollution may not help your condition much either. While traffic seems like a small detail, it’s something to consider when you’re looking for a healthy neighborhood.


The App Store is saturated with tools for helping you keep track of your budget, spending, income, credit score, and more. However, each app is different, offering varying levels of user-friendliness, security, and helpful features. We've built a list of the most useful apps for keeping track of your finances--from budgeting and paying bills, to learning about investing and credit, these apps have you covered.

Mint

Mint is the juggernaut of budgeting apps. You can securely sync all of your bank accounts, loan accounts (credit card, student loans, etc.) and even income accounts like PayPal. Once you've logged in, Mint does most of the work for you. In fact, just yesterday I got a notification from Mint that I was charged extra for my gym membership. In the app or from the website you can design your own personalized budget that includes things like food, shopping, groceries, gas, etc. When you make a purchase with one of your linked cards, Mint automatically sorts the purchase into the correct category. Aside from budgets, Mint also helps you set up a timeline for paying your debts. It shows you how long it will take at your current monthly payment amount and tells you how much you would save in interest by paying it off faster.

PocketGuard

PocketGuard is like a sleek, minimal version of Mint. However, its main strength, as the name suggests, is security. It boasts several barriers to identity theft and complicated and technical security measures that we won't get into here (we're talking 128-BIT SSL encryption). PocketGuard is also simpler than Mint, both in terms of content and display. Plus, you won't see as many advertisements for credit cards that Mint so slyly sneaks into just about every screen you view.

Home Budget with Sync

The name's a little awkward, we know. But they added that "with Sync" in there for a reason. Home Budget's most redeeming feature is that it allows you to sync up with other budgets in your household (your spouse, roommate, etc.). This makes it much easier for couples who are splitting bills to keep track of their expenses and savings. One piece of advice is to choose what you share wisely. Not everyone wants to share all of their personal finance information with others.

You Need a Budget

You Need a budget, or as its many happy customers call it, YNAB, is a whole lot more than just a way to keep track of your money. It boasts several learning resources that empowers you with financial knowledge. Where other apps just let you plug in numbers, YNAB teaches you what all of those numbers mean and helps you make more informed decisions with your money. YNAB is created with the intention of reducing your financial stress. It has simple videos, instructables, and more to help you learn the ins and outs of budgeting. Then it helps you build your own budget and stick to it with many of the same features as Mint or PocketGuard.

Personal Capital

If you're ready for the big leagues of finance and want to start investing and tracking your assets, Personal Capital will help you get there. This app is designed for managing and analyzing assets. The app's main features are broken into categories: cashflow, retirement, investing, and net worth. The outstanding feature here is investing. It simplifies investing, checks up on your investments, and gives you useful tips that will help you get your toes wet in the investment world.

Selling your home can be scary, particularly for those who are listing a residence for the first time. Fortunately, we're here to help you face your home selling fears so you can overcome them before you add your property to the real estate market.

Now, let's take a look at three common home selling fears, along with some of the ways that you can put these concerns to rest.

1. I won't be able to get the best price for my home.

Getting the best price for a house is the number one concern for most home sellers, and for good reason. Lucky for you, there are several quick, easy ways to ensure you can maximize the value of your residence.

First, check out the housing market and see how your house stacks up against similar residences that are available. This will enable you to collect valuable housing market data that can help you price your house accordingly.

Don't forget to complete a home appraisal too. A property appraiser will allocate the necessary time and resources to analyze your house's interior and exterior. Then, he or she will provide a report that outlines your home's strengths and weaknesses so you can better understand the true value of your residence.

2. My home will stay on the real estate market for years to come.

Let's face it – a home seller likely wants his or her residence to sell as soon as it hits the real estate market. Sometimes, a house can linger on the real estate market for an extended period of time. And when this happens, it is easy to question whether a homebuyer will ever submit an offer on a residence.

As a home seller, it is important to ensure your house makes a positive first impression on homebuyers.

Spend some time mowing the front lawn, clearing dirt and debris from walkways and performing assorted home exterior improvements. This will enable you to boost your house's curb appeal instantly.

Also, declutter your home's interior as much as possible. By doing so, you can make it simple for homebuyers to envision what life would be like if they decide to purchase your residence.

3. When the time comes, I won't be able to relocate to a new home.

After you sell your residence, you'll need to move to a new address. The relocation process often can be difficult, especially if you have lived in a particular house for many years.

A real estate agent can help you prepare for the relocation process. This housing market professional understands all aspects of the home selling cycle, and as such, will be happy to offer expert assistance at all times.

Although selling a home may seem challenging, an informed home seller will understand what it takes to get the best results possible. And if you address your home selling fears now, you should have no trouble optimizing the value of your house and accelerating the home selling process.