Congress to decide fate of rural-area loan program — help support it

The USDA offers a no-down-payment loan for rural homes, but 17 areas of Virginia are set to be removed from the list of eligible locations unless Congress acts.

The USDA Rural Development Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program — sometimes referred to as the “Rural Housing Service Section 502 Program” — is one of the few places consumers can get a loan without a down payment. It was designed to help people move to rural areas, and every 10 years the Agriculture Department looks at the Census data and determines which areas are “rural.”

The newest changes are set to take place this month March 27, 2013, and 17 sections of Virginia will be cut from the list.

As we wrote before, it makes sense for areas that are no longer rural to no longer be classified as rural. It’s just the timing that’s bad. So representatives and senators from Nebraska have introduced bills that will grandfather formerly-rural areas for 10 years.

NAR has issued a Call for Action: Ask your legislators to support these bills — H.R. 273 and S. 3541.

The 10-year grandfathering is a nice balance. It ensures that the program doesn’t expand beyond its rural-housing goals, but it doesn’t remove such a useful program just as the housing market is recovering.

As always, NAR has made it easy to let your voice be heard. Just head to the Realtor Action Center and fill out your information. Presto!

Finally, here are the Virginia regions that will no longer be eligible for USDA loans:

  • Cave Springs
  • Centreville
  • Chester
  • Chester CDP
  • Christiansburg town
  • City of Fredericksburg
  • City of Front Royal
  • City of Radford
  • Great Falls
  • Hollins
  • Huntington
  • Lincolnia
  • Madison Heights
  • Short Pump
  • Timberlake
  • Vinton
  • Waynesboro city

About Andrew Kantor

Andrew is VAR's editor and information manager, and -- lessee now -- a former reporter for the Roanoke Times, former technology columnist for USA Today, and a former magazine editor for a bunch of places. He hails from New York with stops in Connecticut, New Jersey, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Roanoke.
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