What Is a USDA Loan?

A USDA loan is a mortgage program offered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assist individuals or families in achieving homeownership, especially in rural areas. These loans are designed to help those with low to moderate incomes who may face challenges in securing traditional mortgages due to financial constraints or limited credit history. USDA loans typically feature benefits such as zero down payment requirement and competitive interest rates, making homeownership more accessible to eligible borrowers.

To qualify for a USDA loan, applicants must meet certain eligibility criteria established by the USDA, including income limits based on the area’s median income and property location in a designated rural area. The application process involves finding a  USDA lender in Texas, completing the necessary paperwork, and undergoing evaluation based on income, credit history, and property eligibility. Once approved, borrowers can proceed with the home purchase process, with the USDA providing a guarantee for the loan.

Overall, USDA loans play a vital role in expanding homeownership opportunities and promoting rural development across the country. By providing accessible financing options, these loans help individuals and families achieve their homeownership goals while contributing to economic growth and sustainability in rural communities.

USDA Loan Requirements in Texas

USDA loan requirements in Texas primarily focus on income and location guidelines. To qualify for a USDA loan, applicants must meet certain income limits based on the area’s median income levels. These income limits vary depending on the size of the household and the specific location within Texas. Generally, USDA loans are targeted towards individuals or families with low to moderate incomes, making them an attractive option for those seeking homeownership in rural areas.

Another crucial requirement for USDA loans in Texas is the property’s location. Eligible properties must be located in designated rural areas as defined by the USDA. While some parts of Texas may be densely populated, there are still numerous rural regions where USDA loan eligibility applies. Prospective borrowers should verify the property’s eligibility through the USDA’s online mapping tool or consult with a qualified USDA lender in Texas that’s familiar with USDA loan guidelines.

Additionally, it’s important to note that USDA loans require the purchased property to serve as the borrower’s primary residence. This means that the home must be occupied by the borrower as their main dwelling. Investing in rental properties or vacation homes using USDA loans is not permitted under the program’s guidelines.

Overall, USDA loans offer a valuable opportunity for individuals and families in Texas to achieve homeownership in rural areas. By providing accessible financing options and flexible eligibility requirements, USDA loans play a crucial role in promoting rural development and expanding housing opportunities across the state.

Pros and Cons of USDA Loans

USDA home loans come with several advantages and disadvantages that potential borrowers should consider:


  • No down payment required: One of the most significant advantages of USDA loans is that they offer 100% financing, allowing borrowers to purchase a home without having to make a down payment. This feature makes homeownership more accessible to individuals who may struggle to save for a down payment.
  • Competitive interest rates: USDA loans typically offer competitive interest rates compared to other loan programs, making them an attractive option for eligible borrowers. Lower interest rates can result in lower monthly mortgage payments and long-term savings over the life of the loan.
  • Flexible credit requirements: While USDA loans have credit score requirements, they are generally more lenient compared to conventional mortgages. This flexibility allows borrowers with less-than-perfect credit to qualify for financing, provided they meet other eligibility criteria.
  • Streamline refinance: Texas homeowners who already have a USDA loan can easily refinance to a lower rate (if available) without any appraisal or income requirements.
  • Rural development focus: USDA loans are designed to promote rural development by encouraging homeownership in rural and less densely populated areas. This focus on rural communities helps stimulate economic growth and improves the quality of life for residents.


  • Geographic restrictions: USDA rural development loans in Texas are only available for properties located in designated rural areas as defined by the USDA. Borrowers looking to purchase homes in urban or suburban areas may not be eligible for USDA financing.
  • Income limitations: USDA home loans have income limits based on the area’s median income levels and the size of the household. Borrowers with incomes exceeding these limits may not qualify for USDA loans, limiting eligibility for some individuals or families.
  • Guarantee fee: USDA loans also come with a guarantee fee, which is a one-time upfront fee of 1% and an annual fee of .35% of the loan amount paid over the life of the loan. This fee serves as insurance for the USDA in case the borrower defaults on the loan and helps support the USDA mortgage program. It is advisable to do a comparison between a conventional loan with no guarantee fees and a USDA with guarantee fees and no down payment to see what is more beneficial to your unique situation.

Overall, USDA home loans in Texas offer significant benefits, such as no down payment and competitive interest rates, but they also have limitations and considerations that borrowers should be aware of before applying

How to Qualify for a USDA Loan in Texas

To qualify for a USDA loan in Texas, applicants must meet certain eligibility criteria set by both the USDA and the specific Texas USDA lender you’re working with. While specific requirements may vary slightly between lenders, here are some key lender guidelines potential borrowers should consider:

  • Minimum credit score: Most Texas USDA lenders require a minimum credit score for USDA loan approval, typically ranging from 640 to 660. However, some lenders may accept lower credit scores if other compensating factors are present. At Griffin Funding, you can qualify for a USDA home loan in Texas with a FICO score as low as 600. 
  • Time since bankruptcy or foreclosure: Borrowers with a history of bankruptcy or foreclosure may still qualify for a USDA loan, but lenders typically require a waiting period before considering their application. The waiting period varies depending on the type of bankruptcy (Chapter 7 or Chapter 13) and the circumstances of the foreclosure.
  • Debt-to-Income (DTI) ratio: Lenders assess a borrower’s DTI ratio, which compares the total monthly debt payments to gross monthly income. While the maximum DTI ratio allowed for USDA loans is 41%, many lenders prefer a DTI ratio of 29% for housing expenses and 41% for total debt obligations.
  • Stable income and employment history: Lenders prefer borrowers to demonstrate a stable source of income and employment history. Typically, borrowers need to provide proof of employment for the past two years and stable income to ensure their ability to repay the loan.
  • Other financial factors: Lenders may consider other financial factors such as savings, assets, and rental history when evaluating a borrower’s application. These factors can help demonstrate the borrower’s financial stability and ability to manage homeownership responsibilities.

Overall, meeting lender requirements is essential to qualify for a USDA loan in Texas. Potential borrowers should work closely with a qualified lender familiar with USDA loan guidelines to understand and meet the specific eligibility criteria and increase their chances of loan approval.

Apply for a USDA Home Loan in Texas

To apply for a USDA home loan in Texas, individuals should consider several key points. First, they must ensure they meet the eligibility criteria set by both the USDA and lenders, including income limits, property location, and creditworthiness. Meeting these criteria is essential for a successful application process.

Griffin Funding stands out as a trusted partner for borrowers. With our expertise in USDA loans and commitment to customer satisfaction, we guide applicants through every step of the process, ensuring a smooth and efficient experience.

Moreover, our innovative Griffin Gold app revolutionizes the homebuying journey, offering convenient features that empower borrowers. From real-time loan status updates to seamless document uploads, the Griffin Gold app puts control and transparency in the palm of your hand.

With Griffin Funding and the Griffin Gold app by your side, achieving homeownership in Texas has never been easier or more rewarding. Let us help you turn your homeownership dreams into reality. Connect with Griffin Funding today or fill out an application to get started.