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7 min read May 22, 2023

USDA Construction Loan

The United States Department of Agriculture offers a USDA construction loan as a financing option. This loan assists individuals and businesses in building or renovating homes in eligible rural areas.

It provides low-interest loans for construction projects, encouraging development in rural communities and supporting affordable housing initiatives.

What Is a USDA Construction Loan?

A USDA construction loan is a specialized financing program provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It offers financial assistance to individuals and businesses looking to build, renovate, or rehabilitate homes in designated rural areas.

These loans offer low-interest rates and flexible terms, allowing borrowers to cover construction costs, land acquisition, and related expenses.

USDA Construction Loan Requirements

USDA Construction loan has specific requirements that you must meet in order to be eligible for the loan.

Borrower Requirements

  • Creditworthiness: Borrowers need to demonstrate good creditworthiness. It is generally recommended to have a credit score of 640 or higher.
  • Debt-to-Income Ratio: Borrowers need to maintain a reasonable DTI ratio. DTI represents the percentage of their monthly income allocated to debt payments. Lenders typically prefer a DTI ratio of 41% or lower, but higher ratios can be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Income Limits: Borrowers must meet income eligibility criteria based on the USDA’s income limits. These limits consider factors such as family size and local median income.

Property Requirements

  • Property Type: USDA construction loans can be used for the construction, renovation, or rehabilitation of single-family homes. Multi-family properties are generally not eligible. The property should be intended for the borrower’s primary residence.
  • Location: The property must be located in an eligible rural area as defined by the USDA. These areas are typically outside of urban or suburban regions. You can check the USDA’s eligibility map to determine if the property is in an eligible area.
  • Value and Appraisal: The property’s appraised value should meet the USDA’s guidelines.

How Do USDA Construction Loans Work?

USDA construction loans work in a similar manner to other construction loans but with specific features and requirements tailored to rural development. Here is an overview of how USDA construction loans typically work:

  • Eligibility and Application: Determine if the property is located in an eligible rural area and ensure you meet the borrower’s requirements. Apply for the USDA construction loan through an approved lender, providing all necessary documentation, including construction plans and cost estimates.
  • Loan Approval and Commitment: Once your application is reviewed and approved by the lender, you will receive a loan commitment outlining the terms, conditions, and loan amount. This commitment may be contingent upon satisfying certain requirements, such as appraisal and underwriting.
  • Construction Phase: With the loan commitment in place, you can begin the construction process. Hire a qualified builder or contractor to carry out the construction or renovation project according to the approved plans and specifications.
  • Loan Disbursement: USDA construction loans typically involve a process called “draws.” As construction progresses, the lender will conduct inspections to verify the completion of specific milestones or stages.
  • Interest and Payments: During the construction phase, you will generally only pay interest on the disbursed loan amount. Once construction is complete, the loan transitions into a permanent mortgage. At this point, your monthly payments will include both principal and interest, based on the final loan amount.
  • Completion and Occupancy: Once construction is finished, a final inspection will be conducted to ensure compliance with building codes and standards. Upon approval, you can move into your newly constructed or renovated home.

The Pros And Cons Of USDA Construction Loans

USDA construction loans offer certain advantages and disadvantages that borrowers should consider. Here are some pros and cons of USDA construction loans:


  • Low-Interest Rates: USDA construction loans often come with low-interest rates compared to conventional construction loans, potentially resulting in lower monthly payments.
  • No Down Payment: USDA construction loans may offer 100% financing, meaning no down payment is required, making it more accessible for borrowers who have difficulty saving for a down payment.
  • Flexible Credit Requirements: USDA construction loans have more lenient credit requirements compared to conventional loans, making it more accessible for borrowers with lower credit scores or limited credit history.
  • Support for Rural Development: USDA construction loans promote rural development and affordable housing initiatives, helping borrowers build or renovate homes in eligible rural areas and stimulating economic growth in these communities.


  • Location Restrictions: USDA construction loans are limited to eligible rural areas, which may limit your options for property location and restrict access to urban or suburban areas.
  • Income Limits: Borrowers must meet income eligibility requirements, which may exclude higher-income individuals from qualifying for USDA construction loans.
  • Mortgage Insurance: USDA construction loans typically require mortgage insurance premiums, which can increase the overall cost of the loan.
  • Documentation and Process: Like any government-backed loan, USDA construction loans involve additional paperwork and may have a more involved application and approval process compared to conventional loans.

What Are Alternative Options To USDA Construction Loans?

Here are a few alternatives to consider:

  • Conventional Construction Loan: You can explore traditional construction loans offered by private lenders or banks. These loans typically require a down payment and may have stricter credit and income requirements compared to USDA loans.
  • Construction-to-Permanent Loan: A construction-to-permanent loan, also known as a “one-time close” loan, combines construction financing and a permanent mortgage into a single loan. This type of loan eliminates the need to refinance after construction is complete and simplifies the financing process.
  • USDA Loans: Instead of opting for a USDA single-close construction loan, buyers have the option to use a USDA land loan or construction loan initially and then combine it with a traditional USDA loan.

How To Get a USDA Construction Loan

To obtain a USDA construction loan, follow these general steps:

  • Determine Eligibility: Check if the property is located in an eligible rural area as defined by the USDA. Ensure you meet the borrower requirements, including income limits, credit history, and debt-to-income ratio.
  • Find an Approved Lender: Look for a lender that offers USDA construction loans. Ensure they are approved by the USDA to provide these loans. You can search for approved lenders on the USDA’s website or consult with a local mortgage broker.
  • Gather Documentation: Prepare the necessary documentation, including income verification (pay stubs, tax returns), employment history, bank statements, and credit history. Also, have detailed construction plans, specifications, and cost estimates ready.
  • Complete the Application: Submit a loan application to the approved lender. Provide all the required documentation and information accurately and completely.
  • Loan Pre-Approval: If your application meets initial requirements, the lender may provide a pre-approval indicating the loan amount you qualify for. This pre-approval is subject to further verification and approval processes.
  • Property Appraisal: The lender will order an appraisal of the property to determine its value and suitability for the loan. The appraiser will consider factors like location, condition, and market value.
  • Underwriting and Approval: The lender will review all the documentation, verify the information provided, and assess your creditworthiness. They will evaluate your ability to repay the loan and ensure it meets USDA guidelines. If approved, you will receive a loan commitment letter.
  • Construction Phase: Once you have the loan commitment, you can proceed with the construction or renovation process. Ensure you work with qualified contractors and provide all necessary documentation to the lender regarding the progress of the project.
  • Loan Disbursement: As construction progresses, the lender will conduct inspections to verify the completion of specific stages. After each inspection, the lender will disburse funds to cover the associated costs.
  • Transition to Permanent Loan: Once construction is complete, the loan will transition into a permanent mortgage. The lender will conduct a final inspection to ensure compliance with building codes and standards.

The Bottom Line

USDA construction loans provide a financing option for individuals looking to build or renovate homes in eligible rural areas. While they come with specific requirements, such as location and income limits, they offer advantages like low-interest rates and no down payment.

However, alternative options like conventional construction loans, VA one-time close construction loans, and FHA one-time close construction loans are available for those who don’t meet USDA loan criteria or prefer different loan terms.


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