USDA Loan Inspection Requirements 

Home inspector talking to the homebuyerYou can explore obtaining a government-backed loan through USDA to purchase a home in a rural or eligible suburban area. But be aware that getting approval requires meeting specific requirements such as an appraisal. Home buyers must satisfy these inspection requirements to gain USDA approval for their home loan.

Failure to comply with these requirements could hinder your ability to secure the loan and potentially risk your safety and security. This article will educate you on the various USDA appraisal and inspection requirements to enable you to increase your chances of getting approved for a mortgage.

Home Inspection Vs. Home Appraisal

When considering the requirements for a USDA loan, it is essential to understand the difference between a home inspection and a home appraisal. A home inspection looks at the property's condition and components to ensure that everything meets safety standards and other criteria set by lenders.

This includes examining plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, appliances, HVAC systems, roofing material, windows, doors, etc. On the other hand, a home appraisal estimates the property's market value based on comparable properties in the area.

It considers factors such as location, size, upgrades or renovations made to the house, and more. The former assesses if necessary repairs are needed before approving financing. At the same time, the latter determines whether or not a borrower can be approved for the loan amount requested.

Ultimately, both evaluations give peace of mind to lenders that their investments are secure and borrowers will have adequate protection against losing equity should anything go wrong with their investment.

The USDA does not require home inspections. However, it is highly encouraged.

What Do Home Inspectors Look For?

Regarding USDA loan inspection requirements, home inspectors look for structural integrity, safety hazards, and the property's overall condition. Home inspectors typically examine a residence's exterior components, such as the roof, siding, windows, doors, decks, porches, and driveways.

The inspector may also check the drainage system around the foundation to ensure that water is not seeping into the basement or crawlspace. On the interior of a house, home inspectors will assess things like flooring and walls for any signs of damage.

They'll inspect plumbing fixtures to ensure they're in good working order and test electrical outlets and switches to confirm they function correctly. In addition to inspecting the physical aspects of a property, home inspectors evaluate heating systems and cooling units, ensuring all appliances are up-to-date with current codes.

This includes gas lines that need to be checked for leakage. Inspectors will also pay close attention to ventilation systems and attic insulation levels, which can affect energy efficiency ratings.

An inspector will note any potential repair needs before issuing their final report on a residence's condition. Hence, buyers know what maintenance might be required to purchase the property.

Individual Water Systems (Private Wells) Inspection

Individual Water Systems (Private Wells) must be inspected for USDA loan requests during the home inspection. The condition of the well, including its depth and adequate water flow, must meet requirements to secure a loan amount. If a private well is not present on the property or does not pass inspection, an alternative water source must be obtained before a loan can be approved.

The inspection will also assess other components of the individual water system, such as septic systems and pumps. Any problems that involve potential contamination from hazardous material should immediately disqualify the property from obtaining a USDA loan.

Furthermore, all necessary repairs and upgrades must be completed before closing to become available.

In addition to meeting these specifications, Individual Water Systems should comply with local building codes and regulations set forth by environmental agencies. It is important to note that all costs associated with maintaining or replacing this type of system may need to be paid out-of-pocket by the applicant, depending on their circumstances. An adequately functioning Private Well is essential in securing a USDA loan amount.

Septic Tank Inspection

Inspecting the septic tank is like looking at a map of a hidden world that can reveal necessary information about the home. Septic tanks are essential to USDA loan inspection programs and must be inspected thoroughly to determine if a home qualifies for government loan programs.

Home inspectors look for signs of damage or leaks, such as open lids, water pooling around the tank, or foul odors from drains. They also check to ensure no broken pipes are leading into it and that all access points have been adequately sealed.

Additionally, they will measure the depth of the material inside the tank, which should not exceed six inches according to specifications set by government regulations. If problems are discovered during this process, further investigation may be necessary before a loan program is approved.

As such, it is essential to ensure that every detail has been taken care of before submitting home inspection reports with applications for government loans. Without proper septic tank maintenance and inspections, homeowners may be unable to qualify for these beneficial loan programs due to a lack of evidence regarding their property's condition.

Septic tank inspections are not required unless specifically requested by the appraiser.

Termite Inspections

The transition from septic tank to termite inspections is quite simple. Both involve significant property components, and both can affect the value and condition of the home. A USDA loan inspection requirement for termites includes an examination of wood-destroying organisms, including insects, fungi, or other microorganisms that may cause damage to the structure of a home.

A termite inspection before USDA loan approval will ensure that any existing infestations are correctly identified before closing the purchase. This comprehensive inspection helps protect homeowners by assessing whether there is evidence of current or previous subterranean termites in visible areas and where they may be hiding out of sight.

It also checks for wood decay caused by certain species of fungi, which can weaken walls and beams over time, decreasing the overall property value if not treated quickly enough.

The inspector looks for signs like mud tubes on exterior surfaces and hollowed or damaged wood inside. All findings must be reported to the lender so that they can make an informed decision about approving or denying a potential applicant's request for financing.

The presence of destructive pests in a home has the potential to devalue it significantly and require costly repairs, making it essential to invest in a thorough inspection before applying for a USDA loan.

Termites can cause severe structural damage in hidden places; thus, identifying their activity early is critical in maintaining optimal property values when purchasing or refinancing with this type of loan program.

Termite and pest inspections are unnecessary unless the appraiser feels a termite/pest inspection is necessary. Based on these considerations, lenders are the ones who are accountable for deciding whether or not a termite inspection is warranted.


Home inspection requirements are stringent yet necessary for a successful home purchase. Understanding what inspections are required and how they differ from an appraisal is essential. Home inspectors must look for potential safety issues, structural defects, and other items that could prevent the completion of a sale.

Individual water systems, such as private wells, also require testing to ensure potable water can be obtained safely. Septic tanks must be tested for proper functioning so waste can be disposed of properly. Lastly, termite inspections are performed to assess if there is wood-destroying insect activity or evidence of previous infestations that may have been treated.

In conclusion, it is essential to fulfill all inspection requirements before applying for a USDA loan to both the lender and consumer interests throughout the process. Taking the time upfront will help expedite closing procedures and make owning your dream home possible without any surprises along the way.

USDA Chapter 12: Property and Appraisal Requirements

FAQ Frequently Asked Questions