My Perfect Mortgage
USDA Loans in Maine A Complete Guide
23 minute read
December 22, 2022

If you're searching for a home loan that offers a low down payment option, USDA loans in Maine could be the mortgage you've been looking for.

While homeowners have various financing options, few home loans offer Mainers 100% financing with interest rates this low.

  • available in AL, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, MA, MD, MI, MN, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TX, VA, WA
  • Simple application
  • Quick decisions
  • Common sense underwriting
  • Fast closing period
  • Lend in all 50 states
  • Veteran lending specialist available to you, no matter where you are
  • In-house processing and underwriting
  • Express Loan Approval program, which allows you to be done with the whole process (minus the contract and appraisal), so you can focus on finding your home.
  • Rate Protect (Lock & Shop) lock in your rate before you even find a home!

What’s in this article?

What is a USDA loan?
USDA-eligible areas in Maine
Maine USDA income limits
Down payment
USDA mortgage rates
Pros and cons
How to apply
Start your USDA loan

Become a homeowner in Maine with zero down

USDA loans in Maine help borrowers buy a home with no money down, potentially saving them thousands of dollars in upfront costs.

Let’s look at an example.

FHA home loans require a down payment of at least 3.5% for qualified borrowers. That means if you want to buy a home for $200,000 using an FHA mortgage, you'll need to have $7,000 in cash to pay at closing—in addition to any closing costs.

Because USDA loans in Maine have a $0 minimum down payment, that's $7,000 you don't need to save. You'll still need to pay closing costs, but USDA loans give borrowers a few options to lessen this expense, including:

  • Rolling closing costs for eligible homes into the total mortgage amount
  • Financial help from family members
  • Asking the seller to contribute toward upfront costs

What is a USDA loan?

USDA home loans are residential mortgages backed by the Department of Agriculture.

They’re available to eligible borrowers buying homes in suburban or rural areas of a state. USDA loan requirements are aimed at helping low- to moderate-income families purchase safe homes in less densely populated areas.

USDA loans can go by a few different names, including Rural Development or RD loans, or even “Section 502” loans—named for the USDA rulebook section that describes the home loan program.

Despite the “rural” element, USDA loans are only available for single-family, owner-occupied homes; you can’t use USDA loans to purchase farms, investment properties, or vacation homes.

contour Mortage
  • Zero-down USDA loans
  • Special homebuying programs
  • Low down payment
  • Less-than-perfect credit okay

USDA-eligible areas in Maine

USDA loans in Maine can be used in areas that meet the USDA's definition of “rural.” Because the USDA considers most areas with 35,000 residents or less as eligible for USDA loans, most of Maine qualifies.

You can check the USDA's eligibility map to see if your area qualifies.

Let’s look at a few USDA-eligible areas in Maine.

Presque Isle, Maine

Presque Isle Maine USDA Areas

Located in beautiful northern Maine, Presque Isle is a vibrant community of just under 9,000. It's also the commercial center in Aroostook County. Presque Isle attracts thousands of tourists annually, who enjoy its small-town friendliness and big-city amenities.

In addition to a strong, diverse economy, northern Aroostook County's more than 3 million acres of unspoiled, natural wilderness is a beacon to outdoor enthusiasts across the country, contributing to a thriving, year-round tourism and hospitality industry.

Presque Isle median home price: $176,000

Bangor, Maine

Bangor Maine USDA Home Loan Eligible Areas Map

With a population of just over 31K and a robust downtown, including great eateries, libraries, and shops, parts of Bangor, Maine, are eligible for USDA home loans. Bangor is home to the Maine Discovery Museum, a hands-on nature, science, and art museum aimed at kids.

The University of Maine's Museum of Art features modern and contemporary artworks, while Bangor City Forest offers countless trails through beaver- and deer-inhabited woods. And horror fans should keep an eye out for authors Stephen King and his wife Tabitha, both born-and-bred Mainers, who still call Bangor home. Minutes outside Bangor, you’ll find USDA eligibility in Brewer, Hermon, and Glenburn.

Bangor median home price: $226,000

Portland, Maine

Portland Maine USDA Areas

With a population of almost 70,000, Portland is Maine's largest city that still holds on to its quintessential New England charm. A scenic working waterfront with fishing wharves, cobblestone streets, local shops, award-winning restaurant galleries, parks, live entertainment venues, and more makes Portland a destination of choice for new graduates, young families, and retirees.

Portland builds on business and tourism industries to deliver big-city comforts without big-city headaches. Find eligible properties on the outskirts of Portland, and in Falmouth, South Windham, and Scarborough.

Portland median home price: $570,000, but more affordable homes in the area.

Lewiston, Maine

Lewiston Maine USDA Map

Maine's second-largest city is home to almost 40,000 people and has many neighboring areas eligible for USDA loans. Lewiston's vibrant cultural and business community offers an affordable cost of living and a thriving economy that includes manufacturing, financial, technology, telecommunications, and world-class healthcare facilities.

Home to the renowned University of Southern Maine (Auburn College), Lewiston is recognized as a leader in fine arts and cultural offerings. Find eligible homes in Lisbon, Sabattus, and Greene.

Lewiston median home price: $258,900

Ogunquit, Maine

Ogunquit Maine USDA Home Loan Eligible Areas Map

Situated on Maine's stunning southern coast, Ogunquit attracts visitors from every corner of the country year-round. Its sandy beaches and iconic lighthouses provide the backdrop for the town's bustling arts and culture scene. Ogunquit's strong tourism industry is just one aspect of the thriving small town. With restaurants, clubs, shops, and schools, Ogunquit is the little town attracting national attention—and new residents—every year.

Ogunquit median home price: $762,500 with more affordable homes available in outlying locations.

See if your area is eligible.

USDA loan income limits for Maine

The majority of Maine falls under the USDA income limit for 1-4 member households of $103,500. Most households in Maine with between 5-8 members have a $136,600 income threshold. You can find all Maine USDA income limits here. 

USDA loans in Maine count your entire household income—not just the income of those on the actual loan application—when determining eligibility.

To help borrowers meet that eligibility, the USDA allows for certain deductions such as childcare, medical expenses, dependents, costs associated with elder households, and more. To see which deductions your family can qualify for, check the USDA’s income tool.

County or Area1-4 member household income limit 2022-20235-8 member household income limit 2022-2023
Aroostook County$103,500$136,600
Kennebec County$103,500$136,600
Lincoln County$103,500$136,600
Oxford County$103,500$136,600
Washington County$103,500$136,600
Waldo County$103,500$136,600

Learn more about USDA income limits.

USDA loan down payment and closing costs

USDA loans Maine require a $0 down payment. In other words, USDA loans allow borrowers to finance 100% of their home’s purchase price.

Borrowers do need to cover closing costs, however, which typically equal between 3-5% of the home's purchase price. Closing costs include loan origination fees, lawyer's fees, and more.

The USDA does permit borrowers to use other sources, such as monetary gifts from family, to pay closing costs.

Learn more about USDA Loan Down Payment and Closing Costs.

Maine closing cost assistance grants and programs

The Maine State Housing Authority offers first-time homebuyers funds towards closing costs and down payment assistance through their Advantage program.

Advantage can provide up to $5,000 to eligible buyers who take approved homebuyer education.

USDA loan limits for Maine

USDA loans do not have loan limits, but they do use local income limits to indirectly cap the amount a homeowner can borrow.

For example, if you live in Bangor, your household income would be limited to $103,500. That works out to a monthly gross income of $8,625 and an estimated home price of $325,000. You can see how other factors, like debt-to-income ratios, can impact how much you can borrow.

Monthly income$8,625
Principal, Interest, tax, insurance, HOA, mortgage insurance$2,500
Front-end debt-to-income29%
Student loans, auto loans, all other payments$1,000
Back-end debt-to-income41%
Example mortgage rate6.5%*
Estimated home price based on the above$325,000

Mortgage rates, payments, and fees are for example purposes only. Your costs will vary.

USDA debt-to-income ratio

USDA loans in Maine use standard 29/41 debt-to-income (DTI) ratios. This means 29% of a borrower's gross income can go toward housing (mortgage principal and interest, plus taxes, insurance, and any homeowner fees).

The broader DTI—all money paid on all debts, including housing payments—can be up to 41%.

But USDA lenders in Maine can approve higher DTIs for borrowers with compensating factors like good credit rating.

Check with a USDA lender to see if you qualify.

USDA home loan mortgage rates in Maine

Because the US government “guarantees,” or backs, USDA loans in Maine, there's less lender risk.

If a borrower is unable to repay the home loan in full, the government steps in and repays the lender up to 90% of the original loan amount. Less lender risk means lower USDA home loan interest rates for borrowers.

USDA property condition guidelines

Because they are focused on helping low and moderate-income households buy "adequate, modest, decent, safe and sanitary" homes, USDA loans in Maine require all properties to meet a minimum property condition standard: a home must be in a livable condition at closing.

A home needing minor or cosmetic repairs wouldn't have difficulty qualifying. In contrast, a home requiring structural repairs, like fixing a crack in the foundation or installing a new roof, would need to have these repairs completed before closing to qualify.

USDA uses property standard guidelines similar to those set out by the FHA.

Learn more about homebuying.

Pros and cons of a Maine USDA loan

Is a USDA loan right for you? Let’s look at the main USDA pros and cons.

Advantages of USDA loans in Maine include:

  • Zero minimum down payment
  • Competitive interest rates, often lower than FHA loans
  • Lower mortgage insurance costs compared to FHA loans
  • Homes in almost all areas of Maine, including parts of Bangor and Portland

Disadvantages of USDA loans include

  • Income limits that include all members of the household over 18—not just those on the loan application
  • Longer loan processing timeframes

USDA loan vs. FHA vs. Conventional

FHA loan: Backed by the Federal Housing Administration; offers 3.5% down payment; requires insurance for the lifetime of the loan

VA loan: restricted to military servicemembers, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses; offers zero down payment; backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Conventional loan: Offers 3% down payment; requires good to excellent credit.

Loan featureUSDAFHAConventional
Income limits$103.5k-$238.2KNoneNone
Geographic restrictions?YesNoNo
Down payment0%3.5%3%
Min. credit score580-640580620
Loan limits for 1-unit homeNone$420,680-$970,800$647,200-$970,800
Upfront mortgage insurance1.0% of loan1.75% of loanNone
Monthly mortgage insurance0.35% of loan annuallyTypically 0.85% of loan annually0.40-3%+ of loan annually; varies by down payment, credit, etc.

USDA loan credit score minimum

The USDA doesn’t specify a minimum credit score. Individual USDA lenders establish credit requirements. Most local USDA lenders in Maine, however, require scores in the 620-640 range, although some will accept scores below 600.

See if your credit score qualifies you for USDA.

USDA mortgage insurance

These loans require borrowers to pay two different mortgage insurance fees: Annual and Guarantee fee.

Guarantee fee

Borrowers pay 1% of their total loan amount at closing. For example, borrowers would pay a one-time fee of $3,000 on a $300,000 mortgage. Many borrowers opt to roll the USDA Guarantee Fee into the loan, reducing out-of-pocket expenses.

Annual fee

This annual fee is equal to 0.35% of the annual outstanding mortgage balance. The annual fee is divided into 12 equal amounts and added to your regular monthly mortgage payment.

It works out to approximately $29 monthly for every $100,000 borrowed. For example, borrowers would pay an additional $87 as part of their monthly mortgage payment on a $300,000 mortgage.

The Guarantee and Annual fees contribute toward the sustainability of the USDA loan program nationwide.

How are the USDA Guaranteed Loan and Direct Loan different?

The USDA offers two different loans: Guaranteed and Direct.

Guaranteed loans

Guaranteed loans are offered by private lenders and make up most of the USDA loans offered in the US.

Direct loans

Direct loans are offered "directly" from the USDA and are aimed at helping “low and very low” households—annual household income between $31,550 to $50,500—buy a home.

Note: We cover the USDA loan requirements for Guaranteed loans in this article. For information on Direct USDA loans, see the USDA website.

USDA lenders, the process, and how to apply

The USDA loans have an extra step compared to most other mortgages—they require approval from the lender and the government agency.

The additional step can add a few extra days or weeks to the processing timeframe. But otherwise, applying for a USDA loan in Maine is as straightforward as applying for any other mortgage.

  • Submit your application and supporting financial documentation to your lender.
  • Start house hunting and find your dream home
  • Make an offer on the home you want to buy and get an accepted offer from the seller
  • The lender can now order a home appraisal
  • After reviewing the appraisal, your lender will finalize their approval
  • This is the extra step: the lender sends your approved application to the USDA for their separate approval
  • Once the USDA approves your loan, your lender draws the final loan documents, and you sign them.
  • You close on your USDA home loan and get the keys.
Apply for a USDA loan now.

Maine USDA loan FAQ

Are there USDA-eligible areas in Maine?

Yes! Most of the state of Maine is eligible for the USDA's no-down-payment loan program, including many parts of Lewiston, Bangor, and Portland.

What is the maximum USDA loan I can get in Maine?
What credit score do I need for a USDA loan?

Do you qualify for a Maine USDA loan?

With most of the state of Maine eligible for USDA loans, borrowers looking for no-down-payment, low-interest loans could qualify for a mortgage in their preferred neighborhood.

See if you qualify for a zero-down USDA loan.

Our advise is based on experience in the mortgage industry and we are dedicated to helping you achieve your goal of owning a home. We may receive compensation from partner banks when you view mortgage rates listed on our website.