Joseph Diego portrait

Joseph Diego, area director of the Western Pacific Rural Development office, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

USDA home loan data

For first-time homebuyers, finding a sufficient amount of money for a new home can seem daunting if not impossible, especially for low-income families. In fiscal year 2015, the USDA Rural Development office invested $24.1 million in programs to assist low-income, first-time homebuyers in the Western Pacific region.

“In 2015, we were able to assist 89 families realize their dreams of becoming first-time homeowners through the more than $16.6 million in direct and guaranteed funds for housing that was approved,” said Chris Kanazawa, state director for Hawaii and the Western Pacific, for USDA Rural Development.

Of the 89 families assisted, 76 were families living in Guam. However, these numbers vary each year. Joseph Diego, area director of the USDA Rural Development Office for the Western Pacific, stated that there have been more guaranteed funds than direct funds available nationwide.

The USDA Rural Development office offers two programs that are funded annually and are available to help first-time homebuyers. The Direct Housing Program is more suitable for very-low to low-income families with the USDA being the funds lender. Depending on a family’s eligibility for this program, the USDA can offer payment assistance which will reduce the mortgage payments for a short time.

If the family’s income is in the low- to moderate-income range, then the Guaranteed Housing Program may be more suitable. Under this program, the USDA is not the lender; a suitable bank or credit union would be the actual lender with the USDA guaranteeing 90 percent of the loan. Payment assistance is not offered under this program.

Both of the programs provide opportunities for eligible first-time homebuyers to buy or construct a new home. Diego said that “even with the Guaranteed Housing Program, with the availability of a USDA 90 percent guarantee, a lender’s risk in any loss is significantly reduced enabling lenders to offer 100 percent financing.”

Guam residents can apply for the programs at the USDA Rural Development office in the A.B. Won Pat International Airport Guam Integrated Air Cargo Facility in Tiyan. The office can pre-qualify the individuals or families and determine whether the Direct Housing Program or Guaranteed Housing program is a better fit for their needs.