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South Carolina First Time Home Buyer

Get a Mortgage to Buy Your First Home in South Carolina
Loan Program Options - Down Payment Assistance - Fast Loan Approvals

South Carolina First Time Home Buyer – 2019 Loan Programs

Are you looking to purchase your first home? Our first time home buyer programs might be the perfect solution to help you obtain the financing you need to purchase the home you desire. We provide excellent home financing options, and encourage you to compare our offered loan terms to other mortgage lenders.

South Carolina First Time Home Buyer Loans

There are 5 types of first time home buyer loans.  You may select different loan terms, such as a fixed rate or adjustable rate mortgage, and the number of years to repay the loan (such as a 30 year fixed rate mortgage).

Types of Mortgages:

  • Conventional Loans – Conventional loans offer the best loan terms to borrowers with good or excellent credit, as well as those who can afford to place a larger down payment.  If you are able to put 20% or more down, you will be able to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI).  However, conventional loans also offer low down payment options, such as programs that only require 3% down.
  • FHA Loans – FHA loans are a good option for borrowers who may not be able to qualify for a conventional loan.  The qualification requirements for FHA loans are much more lenient than conventional loans.  This includes options for home buyers with credit scores as low as 500 (in order to qualify for a 3.5% down payment, you must have a credit score of at least 580).
  • USDA Loans – USDA loans provide home buyers the opportunity to purchase a home without any down payment.  These loans are intended for borrowers with low-to-moderate income.  In addition to not requiring any money down, you can also finance the closing costs into the loan.  This means you can essentially buy a home with no money out of pocket!
  • VA Loans – Active duty military members and veterans can apply for a VA loan which allows you to buy your first home without any down payment.  These loans are not available to the general public, but exclusively to military/veterans.
  • Jumbo Loans – Any loan that does not meet the conforming or FHA loan limits is a jumbo loan.  Most counties in South Carolina are limited to $484,350 for conforming loan limits, and $314,827 for FHA loan limits.   There are some counties which are known as high cost areas, which the loan limits are raised for, but most are capped at these amounts. For those who qualify and want a little more than what conforming and FHA loan limits allow, we offer jumbo loans up to $2,000,000.

The above 5 types of loans are the main first time home buyer options that exist.  We can help you determine which loan is the right fit for you based on your particular needs and eligibility.

South Carolina Down Payment Assistance Programs

First time home buyers in South Carolina may be eligible to receive down payment assistance.   This includes programs that are offered statewide, as well as some locally offered programs (available at the city or county level).

S.C. Housing Homebuyer Program

The South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority offers up to $6,000 in down payment assistance.   There are two potential options for assistance.

1.) If your income is above 80% of the median average for your county, the $6,000 in assistance provided must be paid back.  It will be provided on a 10 year loan term with a 2% interest rate.

2.) If your income is below 80% of the median average for your county, the $6,000 in assistance will be provided as a forgivable second mortgage with a 10 year loan term with 0% interest.  As long as you stay in the home for the term of the loan, the loan will be forgiven (not have to be paid back).

With either option, you must complete the other program requirements, which can be viewed on the S.C. Housing website.

Hardest Hit Fund Down Payment Assistance

First time home buyers have the opportunity to receive up to $15,000 in assistance if purchasing a home in specific zip codes within Richland, Lexington, and Sumter counties.  The money received will be completely forgiven if you stay in the home for 10 years.  In order to qualify for this program, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must purchase an existing home (new construction is not eligible).
  • The minimum credit score allowed is 620.
  • You must occupy the property as your primary residence (no investment properties allowed).
  • It is required that you complete a homebuyer education course.
  • You must meet the property sales price and income limits for your county.

To learn more about this program, visit the SC Housing website.

Richland County Home-Ownership Program

Richland County offers up to $10,000 in down payment assistance.   The funds are received as forgivable loans, and can be used applied towards your down payment and closing costs.

Program Requirements

  • Must be a resident of South Carolina.
  • You cannot have a contract on a home until after your have completed the program requirements.
  • Your income must be below 80% of the average median, which these limits are outlined below.
  • The maximum home price allowed for an existing home is $140,000.  For a new construction home it is $224,000.

Income Limits

  • 1 Person – $39,150
  • 2 Persons – $44,750
  • 3 Persons – $50,350
  • 4 Persons – $55,900
  • 5 Persons – $60,400
  • 6 Persons – $64,850
  • 7 Persons – $69,350
  • 8 Persons – $73,800

To learn more about this program, visit the official website for Richland County.

City of Rock Hill First-Time Homebuyer Program

The Housing Development Corporation of Rock Hill offers up to $5,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance to eligible first time home buyers.  The assistance is provided as a second mortgage that is forgiven in increments over the course of 5-20 years.

Program Requirements

  • You must purchase a home within the city limits of Rock Hill.
  • Complete a home buyer education course.
  • You must contribute $500 towards your down payment.
  • Meet the income limits, which are outlined below.

Income Limits

  • 1 Person – $41,550
  • 2 Persons – $47,450
  • 3 Persons – $53,400
  • 4 Persons – $59,300
  • 5 Persons – $64,050

To learn more about this program visit the official website for Rock Hill.

South Carolina First Time Home Buyer Tax Credits

The state of South Carolina allows for certain tax credits for first time home buyers (or anyone who has not owned a home in the last 3 years).  The SC Mortgage Credit Certificate program allows you to deduct money from your annual federal taxes.  This credit will save you money on your annual taxes, and also assist in qualifying for a home loan by improving your debt-to-income ratios.

How this works is the South Carolina State Housing Financing Development Authority provides a Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) allowing you to deduct up to 50% of your annual mortgage interest.  The maximum amount allowed to be deducted is $2,000.

The MCC tax credit is not to be mistaken with general tax deductions for interest paid on your mortgage.  That is separate and allowed for any mortgage loan (and can also be used in addition to this special MCC program).  This specific MCC tax credit is money that is directly taken off your tax liability.  It is an actual dollar for dollar reduction in what you have to pay!

We encourage you to speak with a loan consultant who can advise you of what you are eligible for.  You can request a free consultation through our online web form.  This is a 100% free and no obligation mortgage consultation which will answer any questions you have and assist you in getting pre-approved if you wish to apply for a first time home buyer loan.

Frequently Asked Questions About Buying Your First Home

How much do I need for a down payment?
It depends on the type of loan you want.  USDA and VA loans often will not require any down payment.  FHA loans require a 3.5% down payment.  Conventional loans typically require either 3% or 5%.  If you receive down payment assistance, you may not need any money for your down payment.

What is the maximum loan amount that I can qualify for?
The amount that you will be allowed to borrow will depend mostly on your income, as well as the particular type of loan you are interested in. There are maximum loan limits for each type of mortgage program which are set at the county level. Conforming loan limits are the maximum loan amounts allowed for conventional mortgages.  FHA loans have their own loan limits.  This is not necessarily how much you can borrow though, but the maximum amount allowed in your location.  The amount that you can personal qualify for will be based upon your income, and how much debt you have.  For most loans, your monthly mortgage payment, along with your monthly debts may not exceed 43% of your income.

Can I buy a home without a real estate agent?
It depends on your state and the type of loan program.  For some states, you must use an agent.  In other states, you are not required to use a real estate agent for many loan program, such as conventional mortgages.  However, some loan types require that you use a real estate agent regardless of your location, such as USDA loans.

Do you have first time home buyer loans for bad credit?
Yes, we offer mortgage options for borrowers with bad credit. This includes FHA loans for bad credit, which you can possibly be approved with a credit score as low as 500. However, a 580 credit score is required for the 3.5% down payment. If your credit score is between 500-579, then you will need to put 10% down.

Can I buy a home if I owe tax debt?
For government-backed loans, such as FHA, VA, and USDA loans, you can buy a home with tax debt as long as you have made a payment plan with the IRS, and are not behind on the payments. Any federal debt must be in good standing in order to get a government-based mortgage. If your tax debts have moved into the status of a tax lien, this will prevent you from getting a home loan until it is resolved.

Can I buy a home if I have student loans?
As long as you are not delinquent on the student loan payments, and the monthly payments do not cause excessive debt-to-income ratios, you can still get a mortgage.

Can I buy a home without my spouse?
A common question is if you can buy a house without your wife or husband.  The short answer is yes. There are numerous reasons someone may want to exclude their spouse from a mortgage application, such as lower credit, lack of job history or income, or one spouse having excessive debt that could prevent an approval. You may be able to qualify and get a home loan without your spouse.

How do I know if I am ready and prepared to own a home?
It is critical to consider the often unexpected expenses of buying a home. This includes repairs, maintenance, and of course furnishing the home, monthly utilities, and all other expenses that are associated with homeownership. A common mistake is to just look at the difference in rent to your total mortgage payment. Almost every year, you can expect to have to pay for various upkeep to keep the property functional. This can include anything from repairing a hot water heater that broke, to landscaping, and various maintenance.

Something else financial consultants advise is that you have at least 3 months of reserves. This means that you could afford to make your new mortgage payment for at least 3 months in the event that you lose a job or have some other unforeseen circumstance that the savings would be needed for. This is not a requirement for most home loans, but it is good advice to consider.

Have more questions about buying your first home?  Give us a call at 1-800-731-3560.

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