N.C. State Employees’ Credit Union Mortgage Review 2022

Good for: North Carolina government employees and other eligible borrowers interested in conventional loans with low down payment options.
Jan 5, 2022

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Our Take

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

North Carolina State Employees' Credit Union offers conventional loans on favorable terms and displays mortgage rates upfront, but government-backed loans aren't available.

State Employees Credit Union
State Employees Credit Union: NMLS#430055
Min. credit score
N/A
Min. down payment
0%
Loan types and products
Purchase, Refinance, Home Equity, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No private mortgage insurance required, even with a down payment less than 20%.
  • 100% percent financing available.
  • No fees for applications or credit reports.
  • Participates in mortgage credit certificate and down payment assistance programs.

Cons

  • Does not have government-backed loan options.
  • Membership eligibility is highly limited, and loans are available only for properties located in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Compare to Other Lenders

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score

620

Min. credit score

620

Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Min. down payment

3%

Min. down payment

3%

Loan types and products

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

Loan types and products

Purchase, Refinance, Home Equity, Reverse, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

Loan types and products

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

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Full Review

N.C. State Employees' Credit Union at a glance

If you’re eligible for membership, SECU offers some excellent perks — in particular, no-down-payment loans for first-time home buyers, as well as closing cost assistance. SECU does not offer government-backed loans, though it does have fixed-rate conventional mortgages with a variety of terms and a few specialty loan options. It's easy to view sample rates and fee details on its website.

Here's a breakdown of SECU's overall rating:

  • Variety of loan types: 5 of 5 stars

  • Ease of application: 5 of 5 stars

  • Rates and fees: 3 of 5 stars

  • Rate transparency: 4 of 5 stars

N.C. SECU mortgage loan types

North Carolina State Employees’ Credit Union, or SECU, is one of the top five largest mortgage lenders in North Carolina by loan volume as of 2020, the latest data available. SECU, whose membership is primarily composed of state and public school employees and their families, has over $45 billion in assets and more than 272 branch locations.

SECU’s mortgage lineup is fairly solid, but the lender does not offer government-backed home loans, like FHA and VA loans. Home loans offered include conventional 10-, 15-, 20- or 30-year fixed-rate mortgages; 5/5 ARMs; construction loans; historic preservation mortgages and manufactured home mortgages. Lending for all home loan types is limited to properties located in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

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. Individual members can get a home loan up to $1.5 million.

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

SECU offers an adjustable-rate First Time Homebuyer's Mortgage of up to $400,000 with no down payment required. Borrowers may also qualify for up to $2,000 to apply to closing costs. A separate grant program, offered in association with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, provides grants up to $7,500 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.

N.C. SECU HELOC: The lender also offers a home equity line of credit, or HELOC. These second mortgages are a way for homeowners to access existing home equity without refinancing or selling their home. Funds obtained with a second mortgage can be used for expenses such as home improvements, education costs or debt consolidation.

SECU’s HELOC can be used for primary residences, second homes, and rental properties. Funds may be drawn repeatedly over a 15-year period, and the lender says that it does not charge application, credit report or origination fees. SECU offers a special repayment option for borrowers who work as educators, allowing them to skip HELOC payments during the summer months when they may have less income available.

N.C. SECU ease of application

Like many credit unions, SECU’s website isn’t flashy but an online mortgage application is available once you're granted member access.

Additional online conveniences — like document upload and automated loan tracking — are available, too, and the lender says you can electronically sign documents.

SECU also offers 24/7 member service via a toll-free support line. It also has a massive number of branch offices, with more than 270 across North Carolina alone.

N.C. SECU 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, according to the most recently available Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data:

  • N.C. State Employees' Credit Union earns 3 of 5 stars for average origination fee.

  • N.C.State Employees' Credit Union earns 2 of 5 stars for offered mortgage rates compared with the best available rates on comparable loans.

On its website, SECU says that it charges an origination fee of 1% of the total loan amount on purchase mortgages, up to $2,500, and that there's an additional 0.5% fee for refinance transactions. It claims to charge no application or credit report fees.

Borrowers should 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 decide to buy discount points — a fee paid with your closing costs — to reduce your mortgage rate.

Deciding whether 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.

N.C. SECU mortgage rate transparency

SECU does a good job of providing interest rates. Each mortgage product page not only explains how the loan works but also displays current interest rates for various loan terms.

More from NerdWallet

Methodology

NerdWallet’s overall ratings for mortgage lenders are evaluated based on four major categories: variety of loan types (purchase, refinance, fixed and adjustable, for example), ease of application, rates and fees and rate transparency. Among the factors we consider when scoring these categories are options to apply for and track loans online, the level of detail about mortgage rates on lender websites and our analysis of the rates and fees lenders reported in the latest available Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data. These scores generate ratings from 1 star (poor) to 5 stars (excellent).