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N.C. State Employees’ Credit Union Mortgage Review 2018

April 11, 2018
Finding the Right Mortgage, Mortgages
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State Employees’ Credit Union, or SECU, is the second-largest mortgage lender in North Carolina by loan volume as of 2017, the latest data available.

SECU, whose membership is primarily composed of state and public school employees and their families, has over $38 billion in assets and more than 260 branch locations.

What’s it like to get a mortgage from State Employees’ Credit Union? Here’s what we found.

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  • Second-largest mortgage lender in North Carolina.
  • Offers down payment and closing cost assistance programs.
  • Doesn’t offer government loans, such as FHA, VA or USDA.

Compare State Employees’ Credit Union with other N.C. lenders.

SECU mortgage loan products

When it comes to home loan volume, SECU is second in the state only to Wells Fargo — and outpaces contenders like Quicken Loans, Bank of America and SunTrust. That’s impressive.

But SECU’s mortgage lineup has a few quirks and some loan products offered by those other lenders are missing from its menu.

Home loans offered

  • 10-, 15, or 20-year fixed-rate mortgage.
  • 5/5 ARM.
  • Home equity line of credit (HELOC).
  • Jumbo loans.
  • Construction-permanent mortgage.
  • Manufactured home mortgage.
  • Historic preservation mortgage.

Home loans not offered

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.
  • FHA.
  • VA.
  • USDA.

» MORE: Best lenders for FHA loans

For SECU, not offering the traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage is a business decision.

“As SECU currently maintains all of its mortgage loans in portfolio, we prefer to avoid the long-term interest rate risk exposure of 30-year fixed-rate mortgages,” says Mark Coburn, senior vice president of lending development.

SECU does offer jumbo loans, but doesn’t call them that on its website. That’s because SECU does not have separate underwriting standards for loans over the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s county limit, as most lenders do. You can get a home loan up to $1 million.

For homeowners who’ve hit a bumpy financial road, the credit union offers a Mortgage Assistance Program. After consultation with a senior financial officer, the program may allow modification of the payment amount, deferment or a change to the loan terms. The solution may also be as simple as providing a one-month extension on your loan payment or perhaps a debt consolidation loan.

» MORE: Calculate your mortgage payment

Down payment help for first-time borrowers

Low-down-payment borrowers will appreciate this: SECU does not require private mortgage insurance on loans with down payments of less than 20%.

SECU provides first-time home buyer loans up to $400,000 with no down payment required. Borrowers may also qualify for $2,000 to apply to closing costs.

Another loan program, in association with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, provides grants up to $5,000 to help with closing costs and the down payment. The assistance is a second mortgage that doesn’t have to be repaid, subject to borrower eligibility.

One potential downside: Both of the first-time home buyer programs are tied to adjustable-rate loans, which can be an issue for long-term borrowers when interest rates are rising, as they are now. You would probably want to refinance your loan to a fixed-rate mortgage before interest rates climb much higher.

» MORE: North Carolina first-time home buyer programs

SECU mortgage loan process

Like most credit unions, SECU’s website isn’t flashy or sporting the latest technology. An online loan application is not readily apparent, but it’s available with member access.

SECU says the technology gap is among the issues it’s most interested in improving.

To its credit, SECU offers 24/7 customer service via a toll-free support line. It also has a massive number of branch offices, with more than 260 across North Carolina.

SECU mortgage fees and interest rates

SECU does a good job of providing interest rates. Each mortgage product page not only explains how the loan works but offers current interest rates for various loan terms. Coburn says no rate estimation tools are necessary to determine your “custom” rate — the interest rates you see on the website are the rates members pay on each loan product, regardless of credit score.

As for fees, SECU levies a 0.75% loan origination charge, capped at $1,500.

What SECU does best

  • Provides first-time home buyer no-down-payment programs.
  • Underwrites low-down-payment loans without requiring private mortgage insurance.
  • Unique loan products include a five-year ARM and financing for historic-district homes.

Where SECU falls short

  • No 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.
  • Trailing in tech-based conveniences.
  • Doesn’t offer government-backed loans, such as FHA, VA and USDA.

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