Have you heard the news? As of January 12, portions of Sand Springs are now eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development loans, which will bring low cost USDA homeowner financing to our community for the first time in history.
The news was announced at a press conference hosted by the Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce on January 19.
“An announcement like this has been personally, for me, a long time coming,” said Kenny Tate, a Keller Williams realtor and member of the board of the Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce.
Tate spoke at the conference about a young couple who came to him in December of 2009 wanting to buy a house in Sand Springs. This couple was able to make monthly payments but had little money to spend on a down payment. The Rural Development zero dollars down program was available in a neighboring community at the time, which allowed this couple to purchase a home in that community.
Similar situations have persuaded other Sand Springs families to move to surrounding communities that were eligible for Rural Development loans. The Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce, along with Alan Ringle of Ringle Development, City Councilman Phil Nollan and other local developers, has been working to gain eligibility in this program for some time now. In fact, Tate said it was the chamber’s number one economic development priority for 2016. A window of opportunity opened this past year, and Sand Springs’ eligibility for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Loan Program has been secured. Well done chamber!
Tate said this program has brought tremendous opportunities to buyers, sellers and builders in surrounding communities, and now we will have the same economic development opportunities right here in Sand Springs.
“This is a really exciting opportunity for new construction,” Tate said.
USDA Oklahoma Single Family Housing Program Director Tommy Earls said the maps the USDA used to identify areas eligible for rural development loans were very crude in the past. He said technology advancements made a big difference in updating the maps, but the USDA isn’t always aware of any issues with the maps unless residents of certain areas let them know.
“Until people like you make us aware that there are questions [with the map], we don’t question what was done in the past,” Earls said.
After the USDA was made aware of map eligibility issues with Sand Springs and other areas in Oklahoma, the map was revised. Earls said that in addition to areas in Sand Springs, parts of Verdigris, Jones, Spencer and Arcadia, among others, are now eligible for Rural Development loans. He said the USDA is open to revising eligibility maps if they are made aware of an issue.
Earls said Sand Springs worked through the map revision process to gain Rural Development loan eligibility quickly. In fact, Sand Springs heard back from the USDA national office in record time thanks to the chamber’s efforts.
Tate said the areas eligible for this program include all of the area that sits outside city limits but inside the fence line of Sand Springs. This includes about 100 square miles in both Tulsa and Osage counties. To put it simply, the areas of Sand Springs that “made sense” are now eligible for Rural Development loans.
There are two types of loans available to Sand Springs home buyers: Single Family Housing Direct Loans and Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loans. The direct loan program allows families of up to four that make up to $49,000 a year to qualify for 100 percent mortgage financing with a loan limit of $220,000 at a 3.25 percent interest rate and no down payment.
The guaranteed loan program allows higher-income families to qualify for 100 percent mortgage financing and no down payment. This program has no loan limits and is less restricting. For example, homeowners with a Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan can install an in-ground swimming pool.
“This covers a really big group…it’s a huge opportunity for us,” Tate said.
Tate said this program is available inside city limits in some nearby communities. He said that though it might be difficult, Sand Springs is continuing to work through the state legislature to get the area inside Sand Springs city limits eligible for the program.
“We are thrilled with what we have, but we will continue to fight for more,” Tate said.
Visit https://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov/eligibility/ to learn more about the Rural Development loan program and to view a map of eligible areas.