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South Carolina First-Time Home Buyer Programs of 2019

July 18, 2018
Finding the Right Mortgage, Mortgages
South Carolina First-Time Homebuyer Programs of 2018
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Since its rollout in 1979, the SC Housing Homeownership Program has helped more than 42,000 residents of South Carolina buy homes. Officially known as the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority, SC Housing works with lenders, home builders and government officials to assist first-time home buyers in the Palmetto State.

Finding a home in South Carolina is the fun part — getting a mortgage, not so much. But SC Housing offers low-income and low-to-moderate-income residents down payment and closing cost assistance to help make homeownership happen.

National first-time home buyer programs to consider

While not specially targeted to South Carolina residents, these national programs help first-timers across the U.S. make the leap into homeownership.

Conventional mortgage

National program

Best for

Low down payment

Limited mortgage insurance premiums

What you need to know

First-time home buyers can get a conventional home loan with as little as 3% down if the mortgage meets requirements set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And if you put at least 20% down, you won’t have to pay mortgage insurance. Most lenders require a minimum credit score of 620 to qualify for a

 

FHA loans

National program

Best for

Low credit score

Low down payment

What you need to know

Mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, offer relaxed qualification requirements, especially when it comes to down payment and credit score. You can qualify for an FHA home loan with a credit score as low as 500, but you’ll need a 10% down payment. If your score is 580 or

 

VA loans

National program

Best for

Military

Low down payment

What you need to know

Guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, these mortgages are available to military members, veterans and surviving spouses. If you qualify, you’ll see benefits such as no minimum credit score and no down payment or mortgage insurance, but you'll likely have to pay a VA funding fee.

 

USDA loans

National program

Best for

Low down payment

Rural

What you need to know

The USDA home loan program encourages rural and suburban homeownership by offering zero-down-payment mortgages to lower-income buyers. Borrowers with nontraditional credit data, like rent or utility payments, can still apply, but those with a score of 640 or above will experience faster loan

 

SC Housing first-time home buyer programs

SC Housing enables 30-year, fixed-rate FHA, USDA, or conventional loans with down payment assistance up to $6,000. Local lenders make the mortgages, according to SC Housing guidelines. Loan costs include a 1% origination fee.

SC Housing highlights and eligibility requirements

Each loan program has its own list of details, but here is an overview of some common characteristics.

Highlights

  • Fixed-interest rate 30-year loans.
  • Down payment and closing cost assistance.
  • Some programs offer reduced mortgage insurance premiums.

Eligibility

  • Completion of a home buyer education course will be necessary to get down payment assistance.
  • A minimum credit score of 620 to 640 may be required, depending on the program — though your qualifying credit score does not assure loan approval.
  • Borrowers are typically first-time home buyers or haven’t owned a home in the past three years, except in targeted counties.
  • Income and home price limits apply.

» MORE: Tips for first-time home buyers

SC Housing home loans

State program

Learn more

at SC Housing

Best for

Low down payment

Closing cost assistance

What you need to know

SC Housing offers 30-year fixed-interest rate loans through participating lenders, including conventional, FHA and USDA mortgages. Qualifying requirements vary by loan program. Eligible South Carolina properties include single-family homes, modular homes, townhomes and lender-approved condominiums.

 

Repayable down payment assistance

State program

Learn more

at SC Housing

Best for

Down payment assistance

Closing cost assistance

What you need to know

In conjunction with the loan programs made available by SC Housing, down payment and closing cost assistance is provided to qualified borrowers. For households earning above 80% of the median area income, repayable assistance up to $6,000 is available. The loan is a second mortgage with a 2%

 

Forgivable down payment assistance

State program

Learn more

at SC Housing

Best for

Down payment assistance

Closing cost assistance

What you need to know

For households earning less than 80% of the local median income, $6,000 cash assistance is available as a forgivable second mortgage. There is no interest charged and no payments are due. After 10 years of residing in the home, the loan is forgiven.

 

SC Mortgage Tax Credit Program

State program

Learn more

at SC Housing

Best for

Tax credits

What you need to know

This program provides qualified taxpayers up to a $2,000 annual federal income tax credit against the mortgage interest paid, whether you itemize your taxes or not. The tax break is valid for as long as you live in the home and pay mortgage interest.

 

Your next step

Although these programs are administered by SC Housing, locally authorized lenders do the paperwork and have varying qualifying guidelines. Shop around and compare offers from lenders to get the best terms for your particular circumstance.

For details on available loan and assistance programs, visit the SC Housing website.

To get started, consult the list of lenders who participate in SC Housing programs.

» MORE: See the best South Carolina mortgage lenders

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