Recent Changes in USDA Rates


If you’ve been in the market for a mortgage lately, you’ve undoubtedly heard a lot of commotion about the recent changes in USDA rates, and are probably wondering what this means for you, a person who is looking to purchase or refinance a home. On May 16, 2016, the USDA recently announced a series of changes that will make it cheaper and faster to refinance a USDA loan. We’re here to break it all down for you.

To begin, it’s important to understand what a USDA loan is. USDA loans are mortgages backed by the US Department of Agriculture as a part of its USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan program. USDA loans have increased in popularity over the past few years due to their 100-percent financing program that helps approved lenders provide low to moderate-income households with an opportunity to own a home in a rural or semi-rural area (to buy it, refinance it, build it, rehabilitate it, improve it, or relocate another dwelling) with no down payment, reduced mortgage insurance premiums, and an attractively low monthly interest rate. No, you don’t have to be a farmer to obtain the loan, you just have to meet the following criteria:

  • Meet income eligibility
  • Agree to personally occupy the dwelling as your primary residence
  • Be a US Citizen, US non-citizen national, or qualified alien
  • Demonstrate the willingness to meet credit obligations in a timely manner
  • Purchase a property that meets all program criteria including location as defined by the USDA

The loans were created in 1991 to encourage homebuyers to live in rural and suburban areas in hopes of boosting the local economies and growth through more affordable housing options. So what do the new changes mean? Nothing but good news for those who qualify!

Starting June 2nd, 2016, homeowners current on their mortgages for the past 12 months will no longer be required to secure an appraisal, provide a credit report, or undergo a debt-to-income calculation when they refinance for a 30-year term, saving applicants both time and money.

Average savings are expected to be around $150 per month, with some borrowers saving up to $600 per month. When it comes to the changes, Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez says “These changes reaffirm the Obama Administration’s commitment to middle-class Americans, and I am pleased that we continue to provide affordable housing to support thriving economies in rural communities. Helping homeowners refinance their homes to reduce their monthly payments and take advantage of low-interest rates will bring increased capital to rural residents and the communities where they live and work.”

Interested in seeing if you qualify for a USDA loan or refinance? Contact us today!

Alpha Mortgage – April Recap

It’s officially May, and the housing market is heating up just like the weather in Wilmington,NC! This month’s blog will cover the updates on the CFPB’s decision to revisit TRID, the hottest smart-home technology to keep an eye out for, as well as the 20 hottest markets in the US for April. Enjoy!

Revisiting TRID– You all recall the four letters that started to cause chaos in the real-estate industry late last year- TRID. TRID, also know as the ‘know before you owe’ rule was put into place to help the borrower be better informed and protected during the lending process. The process was expected to transition seamlessly into the lending community, but unfortunately, the rule has run into a few hiccups and many complaints. The biggest? Lack of understanding.

TRID is extremely complex, and many mortgage officers and investors have had a difficult time understanding if they are complying with such a large and intricate rule. Industry groups also have asked for guidance on many other issues like curing errors, accounting for lender credits, and calculating cash-to-close transactions.

7 months after its implementation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has announced that it would reopen rulemaking, with a notice of proposed rulemaking expected to be released by late July to provide greater certainty and clarity to the mortgage industry.

According to Dodd Frank, the new rulemaking, governing what also is known as the Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosures, would incorporate some of the bureau’s existing informal guidance as well as provide adjustments in the regulatory text and commentary, CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a  letter to the industry.

The industry is pleased that the CFPB is being so receptive of their concerns and complaints. Cordray gives more peace of mind writing “We will continue to work with industry, consumers, and other stakeholders to support a smooth transition for the mortgage market. As we do so, we and other regulators are all agreed that our oversight of the implementation of the Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure rule in the months ahead will continue to be sensitive to the progress made by those entities that have squarely focused on making good-faith efforts to come into compliance with the rule.”

-Top 5 smart home features– While some people may have thought that by 2016 we would be living in a world of flying cars and homes that would virtually do everything we needed them to and more on their own, we aren’t quite there yet. Take your home to the next level this year by investing in these 5 smart-home features that are guaranteed to make your life easier and your home’s value increase as written by US News.

1. Keyless entry systems. With these replacements for standard locks, homeowners don’t have to worry about carrying keys. They can also give instructions to others on how to get into the home when they’re not there.

2. Smart thermostats. Thermostats have grown beyond a mechanism that you can program to raise and lower the temperature. Today’s smart thermostats can be controlled via your computer or smart phone and will even learn habits such as when you’re usually at home and if you raise or lower the temp when you get up or at certain times of day, like when you go to bed.

3. Alarm systems. Today’s home security systems include controls for thermostats and lighting and have features that allow you to arm and disarm them remotely, using a computer or a phone. Security cameras also have fallen in price and grown in popularity among homeowners.

4. Hidden or unobtrusive built-in speakers. Wired speaker systems are still popular, but the speakers are smaller and there may be more than two to a room, Galante says. That makes it easier for homeowners to customize sound for, say, a party.You can expect to see more of these four smart home innovations in the future:

5. Smart building materials. Shingles will be able to notify you of leaks, drywall will detect moisture and wood framing will report termite infestations. “That’s the stuff that’s coming seven to 10 years down the line,” Galante says.’s 20 hottest markets for April featured many of the same cities from March (we’re talking about you, California), however, there was a spike in popularity around the mid-west that it is important to take note of. So why is this important? Jonathan Smoke,’s chief economist explains. “The Midwest region is representative of the status of the broader U.S. recovery. When Columbus, Ohio, is the 10th hottest market in the country, you know that the Midwest – and the U.S. overall – is back and doing well.”

Also on the list? Raleigh, NC at number #15, showing the US that North Carolina is definitely an area to watch in terms of quality of life and property. Check it out:

1. San Francisco

2. Vallejo, CA

3. Denver

4. Santa Rosa, CA

5. San Jose, CA

6. Dallas

7. Santa Cruz, CA

8. Sacramento, CA

9. Ann Arbor, MI

10. Columbus, OH

11. Boston

12. Colorado Springs, CO

13. San Diego

14. Stockton, CA

15. Raleigh, NC

16. Lafayette, IN

17. Fort Wayne, IN

18. Oxnard, CA

19. Modesto, CA

20. Sioux City, IA

As we move into the Summer months, we invite you to stay tuned to the latest in mortgage and real estate news. We are proud to serve the Wilmington, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Fayetteville and Asheville areas with the most competitive mortgage and lending services at the lowest rates. Let us help make getting your dream home a reality!