WASHINGTON (May 12, 2015) – The partnership between Realtors® and the Rural Housing Service supports homeownership in rural areas and helps those communities thrive, according to officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency that administers the RHS program, who held a briefing today during the Realtors® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.
“USDA Rural Development is so happy to call the National Association of Realtors® a partner in American homeownership,” said USDA Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez. “NAR helps us spread the word about our rural-focused homeownership program that requires no down payment, and with this extra outreach we are able to help more families achieve the American Dream.”
In fiscal year 2014, RHS helped more than 130,000 rural American families use its 502 loan program to become homeowners, nearly 80 percent of who were first-time homebuyers. The program includes guaranteed loans insured by RHS and direct loans that can be used to build, repair, renovate or relocate a home, or to purchase and prepare sites, including providing water and sewage facilities.
“Realtors® are proud to work with RHS because we recognize the uniqueness of rural living and the key role that housing plays in building strong communities. As practitioners, we see opportunities to enhance the RHS loan program and help more families achieve their dreams of owning a home,” said NAR 2015 Federal Financing & Housing Policy Committee Chair Seth Task.
“Together we are changing lives,” Hernandez said in his welcoming remarks. “Because of our partnership, American families are not just moving into houses, they are making homes, gaining wealth and advancing themselves and their communities.”
Task discussed NAR’s advocacy efforts to clarify the USDA’s use of the “rural in character” criteria to determine if a community is eligible for a rural designation by the RHS loan program.
“NAR has also called on Congress and the USDA to speed the lengthy loan approval process by providing RHS with the authority to utilize private lenders to do direct endorsements,” said Task.
The session speakers told Realtors® that the service is investing in technology updates to streamline loan approvals with electronic application submissions and an automated underwriting system. RHS is also exploring new opportunities to improve workflow and collaboration between field offices across state and county lines.
Realtors® vow to continue to work in partnership with Administrator Hernandez and RHS leaders to serve America’s rural families and communities.
The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
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