USDA Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez announced May 16 a series of changes that will make it faster and cheaper for homeowners to refinance USDA mortgages.\r\n\u201cThese changes reaffirm the Obama Administration\u2019s commitment to middle-class Americans, and I am pleased that we continue to provide affordable housing to support thriving economies in rural communities,\u201d Hernandez said. \u201cHelping homeowners refinance their homes to reduce their monthly payments and take advantage of low interest rates will bring increased capital to rural residents and the communities where they live and work.\u201d\r\nThe changes take effect June 2 and apply to mortgages issued through USDA and those where USDA has issued a loan note guarantee.\r\nHomeowners current on their mortgages for the past 12 months will no longer be required to secure an appraisal, provide a credit report or undergo a debt-to-income calculation when they refinance for a 30-year term. These changes will save time and money.\r\nUSDA began testing these changes in a 2012 a pilot program that was later expanded to include 34 states and Puerto Rico. To date, nearly 9,500 homeowners have refinanced their mortgages. Some borrowers saved as much as $600 a month. The average savings is around $150 per month.\r\nThe streamlined rules are consistent with banking industry lending standards. These refinanced loans, like all USDA Rural Development housing loans, meet rigorous underwriting standards and are made only to qualified borrowers. The Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Veterans Affairs have similar programs for the Americans they serve.\r\nInterested homeowners with USDA loan guarantees should contact their lender about refinance procedures. Homeowners with USDA Direct loans should contact a USDA housing specialist.\r\nFor additional details on these new changes, please see page 26461 of the May 3 Federal Register. To learn more about USDA housing programs, please contact a housing specialist at your nearest USDA Rural Development office. A list of state offices is available at: http:\/\/www.rd.usda.gov\/contact-us\/state-offices.