Ag. Secretary announces expansion of refinancing program

COLUMBIA, MO (KFVS) - The USDA is adding 15 more to a pilot program that enables current USDA borrowers in Missouri to save money on housing costs by refinancing their mortgages with lower interest rates, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

According to USDA, participants in the pilot refinancing program are required to meet income eligibility requirements, and must have made their mortgage payments on time for 12 consecutive months.

Borrowers participating in USDA's Single Family Housing Direct and Guaranteed loan programs are eligible to participate. Borrowers do not have to obtain new credit reports, property inspections or home appraisals.

Refinanced loans must be at least one percent below the original interest rate. Terms cannot exceed 30 years. No cash out is permitted to the borrower.

"We recognize the importance of having a place to call home," said Missouri Rural Development State Director Janie Dunning. "We also recognize some of our borrowers are struggling with making their house payment because of economic events which are beyond their control. Allowing Missouri rural borrowers to refinance their mortgages will assure families can remain in their homes and communities' housing stock can remain strong."

According to Missouri Rural Development, the USDA unveiled the initiative almost one year ago. It initially included borrowers in 19 states hardest hit by the downturn in the housing market.

To date, 3,394 rural borrowers have benefited from the USDA refinancing pilot program. These loans total nearly $453 million.

The pilot is being expanded to include residents in the following states: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

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