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New Rural Development guidelines could impact Saline County

By: 21 June 2012 2 Comments

The USDA Rural Development Administration mortgage program is due an update this year and the proposed changes may impact areas of Saline County.

According to a memo from Doug Lawrence, the USDA Rural Development area director in Hope, the following Saline County cities may no longer be considered rural after Oct. 1 — Alexander, Bryant, Hot Springs Village (in Saline and Garland counties), Salem and Shannon Hills.

What does that all mean? The United States Department of Agriculture program is one of the few left that require no down payment for mortgage. Also, credit requirements for Rural Development loans are generally more flexible than they are for conventional mortgages and and fixed-rate mortgages are the norm. The mortgages, guaranteed by Rural Development, are administered through local lenders and have helped buoy markets in areas that are defined as “rural” under the terms of the program.

Currently, essentially every town in Saline County except Benton is considered rural. That was largely true when the Rural Development program was established in its current form in 1990. Back then, there were 64,183 people in Saline County according to the U.S. Census — the population increased by 66.9 percent to 107,118 people in 2010.

A lot of those rural Saline County towns have grown up, then, and that’s particularly true in Bryant where the population grew to 16,888 people in 2010 from 5,269 in 1990 — an increase of 220.52 percent.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email =


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