Rural Housing Service Section 502 Program

Authored By: Georgia Legal Services Program® LSC Funded


United States Department of Agriculture
Rural Housing Service
Rural Housing Direct Loans

Susan Reif
Georgia Legal Services Program
Last Revised: December 2003

Rural Housing Direct Loans are loans that are directly funded by the Government. These loans are available for low- and very low-income households to obtain home ownership. Applicants may obtain 100% financing to purchase an existing dwelling, purchase a site and construct a dwelling, or purchase newly constructed dwellings located in rural areas. The purpose of this loan is to provide financing at reasonable rates and terms with no down-payment. Mortgage payments are based on the household's adjusted income. These loans are commonly referred to as Section 502 Direct Loans.

Purpose: Section 502 loans are primarily used to help low-income individuals or households purchase homes in rural areas. Funds can be used to build, repair, renovate or relocate a home, or to purchase and prepare sites, including providing water and sewage facilities.

Eligibility: Applicants for direct loans from RHS must have very low or low incomes. Very low income is defined as below 50 percent of the area median income (AMI); low income is between 50 and 80 percent of AMI; moderate income is 80 to 100 percent of AMI.Families must be without adequate housing, but be able to afford the mortgage payments, including taxes and insurance. These payments are typically within 22 to 26 percent of an applicant's income. In addition, applicants must be unable to obtain credit elsewhere, yet have reasonable credit histories. Elderly and disabled persons applying for the program may have incomes up to 80 percent of area median income (AMI).

Terms: Loans are for up to 33 years (38 for those with incomes below 60 percent of AMI and who cannot afford 33-year terms). The term is 30 years for manufactured homes. The promissory note interest rate is set by RHS, and in July 1999 it was 7.25%. However, that interest rate is modified by payment assistance subsidy. The interest rate and amount of subsidy are determined by family income as percentage of AMI so that a family pays from 22 to 26 percent of their income for principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI) up to an amount not exceeding the promissory note rate. There is no required down payment. RHS must also determine repayment feasibility, using ratios of repayment (gross) income to PITI and to total family debt.

Standards: Under the Section 502 program, housing must be modest in size, design, and cost. Modest housing is generally defined as housing costing less than the HUD Section 203 (b) loan limits as of 9/30/98. Houses constructed, purchased, or rehabilitated must meet the voluntary national model building code adopted by the state and RHS thermal and site standards. Manufactured housing must be permanently installed and meet the HUD Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards and RHS thermal and site standards.

Approval: Rural Development officials have the authority to approve most Section 502 loan requests. Decisions on complete applications are generally made within 30 days of the Rural Development office's receipt of the application.

Cartersville: Serving: Bartow, Butts, Carroll, Catoosa, Chatooga, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, Dade, DeKalb, Douglas, Fannin, Fayette, Floyd, Fulton, Gilmer, Gordon, Haralson, Heard, Henry, Meriwether, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Rockdale, Troup, Walker, Whitfield

Suite A - 12 Felton Place
Cartersville North Business Center
Cartersville, GA 30120
Phone 770-386-3393
Fax 770-387-0429

Athens: Serving: Banks, Barrow, Clarke, Dawson, Elbert, Forsyth, Franklin, Greene, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, Morgan, Newton, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, Walton, White

355 East Hancock Avenue
Stephens Federal Building
Room 259 Box 1
Athens, GA 30601
Phone 706-546-2471

Fax 706-546-3273

Macon: Serving: Bibb, Bleckley, Chattahoochee, Clay, Crawford, Dodge, Harris, Houston, Jasper, Jones, Lamar, Laurens, Lee, Macon, Marion, Monroe, Muscogee, Peach, Pike, Pulaski, Quitman, Randolph, Schley, Spalding, Stewart, Sumter,Talbot, Taylor, Terrell, Twiggs, Upson, Webster, Wilkinson

915 Hill Park
Suite 100
Macon, GA 31201
Phone 912-752-8121
Fax 912-752-3452

Waynesboro: Serving: Baldwin, Burke, Columbia, Emmanuel, Glascock, Hancock, Jefferson, Jenkins, Johnson, Lincoln, McDuffie, Putnam, Richmond, Screven, Taliaferro, Truetlen, Warren, Washington, Wilkes

501 W. Sixth St.
P.O. Box 829
Waynesboro, GA 30830
Phone 706-554-7001
Fax 706-554-4539

Tifton: Serving: Baker, Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Calhoun, Clinch, Colquitt, Cook, Crisp, Decatur, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Echols, Grady, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole, Thomas, Tift, Turner, Wilcox, Worth
114 West 12th St., Suite F
Tifton, GA 31794
Phone 912-382-0273
Fax 912-382-2823

Baxley: Serving: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Bryan, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Coffee, Effingham, Evans, Glynn, Jeff Davis, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Montgomery, Pierce, Screven, Tatnall, Telfair, Toombs, Ware, Wayne, Wheeler

605 S. Main St. Building E
P.O. Box 30
Baxley, GA 31513
Phone 912-3657-3603
Fax 912-367-0503

Susan Reif
Georgia Legal Services Program
Last Revised: December 2003

Last Review and Update: Jun 18, 2002