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Rural home buyers have jumped at a USDA program that offers loans with no money down, no mortgage insurance – so enthusiastically that the program is due to run out of funding by the end of April.

AP reports that funding for the USDA’s Rural Development program of home loans doubled with new federal stimulus monies. The program offers 30-year fixed rate loans for people buying homes in non-metro communities with populations under 20,000.

“Nearly 116,000 loans were financed in the fiscal year 2009 — more than double the number in the previous year,” writes Steve Karnowski.

AP reports that rates of delinquency and foreclosure on these loans have been lower than for FHA loans.

President Obama has pledged to fund the program again in September, when the new fiscal year begins, but the National Association of Realtors is lobbying for the loan program to be sustained now and through the next five months.

“As private mortgage markets have dried up, many rural families will be left out in the cold without these guaranteed loans,” association President Vicki Cox Golder wrote to the House and Senate Appropriations committees.

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who chairs that committee, and four others have asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to sustain the program and recommended ways to keep the rural home-loan funds flowing.

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