San Diego County Credit Union Home Loan Review 2020

Good for: Californians who live or work in San Diego, Riverside or Orange counties and want a conventional, non-government mortgage.

Beth BuczynskiJuly 14, 2020

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Our Take

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: SDCCU offers low-interest mortgage rates and charges relatively low origination fees, and discloses plenty of detail about them to shoppers. But it doesn't offer VA, FHA, USDA or home improvement loans.

San Diego Country Credit Union

San Diego Country Credit Union: NMLS#580585

Min. Down Payment

5%

National / Regional

Regional

Loan Types and Products

Purchase, Refinance, Home Equity, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Offers purchase, refinance, home equity and jumbo mortgages, plus loans for second homes.

  • Provides customized rate and fee quotes without requiring contact information.

  • Charges lower rates and origination fees than most other lenders.

Cons

  • No FHA, VA, USDA or home improvement mortgages.

  • Doesn’t offer online loan process tracking.

Compare to Other Lenders

Min. Credit Score

620

Conventional:

620

FHA:

580

VA:

620

USDA:

620

Min. Credit Score

620

Conventional:

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Min. Down Payment

3%

Loan Types and Products

Purchase, Refinance, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

Loan Types and Products

Purchase, Refinance, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable

Full Review

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, getting a mortgage may be a bit of a challenge. Lenders are dealing with high loan demand and staffing issues that may slow down the process. Also, some lenders have increased their fees or temporarily suspended certain loan products. If you can’t pay your current home loan, refer to our mortgage assistance resource. For the latest information on how to cope with financial stress during this pandemic, see NerdWallet’s financial guide to COVID-19.

SDCCU at a glance

San Diego County Credit Union offers purchase and refinance mortgages to members who live or work in San Diego, Riverside and Orange counties in California. The website provides customized rate quotes without requiring contact information. Average origination fees and mortgage rates are lower than the national medians. Although the credit union's membership is limited to a three-county area, it offers loans all over California, including mortgages on second homes. It does not offer VA, FHA or USDA loans.

Here's a breakdown of SDCCU's overall score:

  • Variety of loan types: 5 of 5 stars

  • Variety of loan products: 2 of 5 stars

  • Online convenience: 4 of 5 stars

  • Rates and fees: 4.5 of 5 stars

  • Rate transparency: 5 of 5 stars

SDCCU loan types and products

San Diego County Credit Union, or SDCCU, was founded in 1938 as a financial institution for county employees. Today, its services are available to anyone who lives or works in San Diego, Riverside and Orange counties; it can also be used by members of the Financial Fitness Association, an organization that helps its members develop their money-management skills.

Like all credit unions, SDCCU is not-for-profit and owned by members rather than stockholders. Without the obligation to issue stock or pay dividends, “earnings are returned to members in the form of lower loan rates, higher dividends on deposits or lower fees,” its website says.

Members can obtain purchase, refinance and home equity loans from SDCCU. Options listed on the credit union’s website include conventional and jumbo mortgages with 10-, 15-, 20- or 30-year fixed terms; adjustable-rate mortgages with 5- and 7-year rate periods; home equity loans with 10- or 15-year fixed terms and home equity lines of credit.

SDCCU offers three 5/5 ARM options — for as little as 10% down with no closing costs and 100% lender-paid mortgage insurance. Interest rates on a 5/5 ARM can change only once every five years and SDCCU caps the maximum rate adjustment at 5% over the life of the loan.

SDCCU does not offer FHA, VA or USDA-backed mortgages.

SDCCU online convenience

When you’ve gathered all the documents needed for mortgage preapproval, select the “Apply online” button located in various places. That brings up a "Where to start" page with information for first-time buyers, plus pathways toward applying for a purchase loan, a refinance or an equity loan or credit line. Click on the "Apply" button, and you are taken to the application page.

The online mortgage application can be completed in 15 to 20 minutes, according to SDCCU. You’ll also see links to printable mortgage checklists so you know what information to have on hand, and the application can be saved at any point.

What happens after you’ve completed the application depends on the home loan program chosen. “Some programs may give you instant online approval,” the SDCCU website states, but if that’s not an option, the application will go through a review.

SDCCU mortgage rates and fees

One of the most important considerations when choosing a mortgage lender is understanding what the loan will cost. In order to provide consumers with a general sense of what a lender might charge, NerdWallet scores lenders on two factors regarding fees and mortgage rates:

  • A lender's average origination fee compared with the median of all lenders reporting under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. SDCCU earns 4 of 5 stars on this factor.

  • A lender's offered mortgage rates compared with the best available on comparable loans. SDCCU earns 5 stars on this factor.

Borrowers should always consider the balance between lender fees and mortgage rates. While it's not always the case, paying upfront fees can lower your mortgage interest rate. Some lenders will charge higher upfront fees to lower their advertised interest rate and make it more attractive. Some lenders just charge higher upfront fees.

You can always decide to buy discount points — a fee paid with your closing costs — to reduce your mortgage rate.

Deciding whether or not you want to pay higher upfront fees is a matter of considering how long you plan to live in your home and how much cash you have to apply toward closing costs when you sign the loan paperwork.

SDCCU rate transparency

General home loan rates and fees are listed in several places on the SDCCU website. As is often the case, your rate will depend on your credit score and other factors.

For more personalized rates, select "Loans" and then “Home Loan Mortgages" from the home page, then “Get Pre-Qualified.” The user experience is not optimized for mobile devices after tapping "Get Pre-Qualified," so it's easier to complete that section on a computer.

Next, select “Find Rates,” and you’ll see a form with questions about the loan you’re looking for, your finances, credit score and the property you’re hoping to buy. When complete, select “Find Rates” again to submit the form. At this point, you should see interest rates, annual percentage rates and other information for loans matching your needs.

Select “Details” for any suggested home loan, and the site generates an unofficial estimate of “Charges and Reserves,” including monthly payment, discount points, closing costs and other fees. SDCCU doesn’t appear to charge origination fees, but it does list a $350 processing fee and $350 application fee.

While SDCCU advertises free 60-day rate locks, you must complete an application, be approved and pay the application fee in order to complete the lock, according to the website.

More from NerdWallet

NerdWallet’s star ratings for mortgage lenders are awarded based on our evaluation of the products and services each lender offers to consumers who are actively shopping for the best mortgage. The five key areas we evaluated include the variety of loan types and products offered, online conveniences, online mortgage rate information, and the rate spread and origination fee lenders reported in the latest available Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data. To ensure consistency, our ratings are reviewed by multiple people on the NerdWallet Mortgages team.