Best Mortgage Lenders for First Time Home Buyers in South Carolina

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Contributor, Benzinga
February 21, 2024

Jump straight to it: The best South Carolina mortgage lender for first time home buyers is Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions.

South Carolina’s first time homebuyer programs and a thriving housing market ensure that you should be able to find the right home for you. But you’ll also need to shop around so you know you’re getting the best deal possible on your mortgage. We’ll help you determine which lenders will be a great fit.

Quick Look: Best Mortgage Lenders for First Time Home Buyers in South Carolina

6 Best Mortgage Lenders in SC for First Time Home Buyers

First time buyers have a wide variety of lender options in almost every part of the state. Here are some of the best that can help you get started with your search.

1. Best for Online Service: Rocket Mortgage®

Rocket Mortgage® offers a convenient online application process to get a mortgage. It’s a major draw for homebuyers since employment and income can be instantly verified for over 60% of U.S. applicants and can speed up the loan processing time.

Rocket Mortgage® is 1 of the top lenders across the nation, particularly for FHA loans. You should be ready to provide a down payment of 3.5%. On the downside, Rocket Mortgage® does not offer home equity loans or HELOCs and does not consider alternative credit.

Loan types offered: Conventional, FHA, USDA and VA

Credit score requirement: 620

Average days to close a loan: 30-45 days

Pros

  • Apply online through their website
  • Faster loan processing times
  • Variety of mortgage options

Cons

  • Lack of personal interaction
  • Inability to negotiate terms

2. Best for Bank Statement Loans: Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions

Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions is a full-service mortgage lender offering traditional and portfolio Non-QM mortgage loans. The mortgage company is licensed in 45 states and offers competitive rates and quick closing times. 

Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions offers a wide range of mortgage solutions for various needs. Whether you are looking to purchase a home, cash-out on your current property, or refinance at a different rate, they have options for you.

With loan amounts available up to $3.5 million, they can support you in financing properties of different values. They cater to primary residences, second homes, and investment properties, and accommodate various types of properties such as single-family homes, townhomes, and condos.

Loan types offered: Conventional, FHA, USDA and VA

Credit score requirement: 620

Average days to close a loan: 30

Pros

  • Considers unique borrower situations
  • Quick loan approval process

Cons

  • Stricter qualification requirements
  • Higher interest rates and fees 

3. Best for Self-Employed Home Buyers: CrossCountry Mortgage

  • securely through CrossCountry Mortgage's website
    securely through CrossCountry Mortgage's website
    Best For:
    Self-employed Borrowers
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    Available in: CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, IL, MD, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA 

CrossCountry Mortgage makes it easy for all types of home buyers to get approved for a mortgage. Their flexible requirements can help you get financing, with no employment or income verification and no minimum DTI. CrossCountry Mortgage offers traditional loan terms, as well as more flexible home payment plans with their 40-year loan program.

It’s also easier to get approved if you’re self-employed. Tax returns are not required and you’ll only need one year of self-employment income history and a minimum credit score of 580. CrossCountry Mortgage can also help you get approved on assets alone, like your bank statements, stocks and bonds, or retirement accounts.

Loan types offered: Conventional, FHA, USDA and VA

Credit score requirement: 620

Average days to close a loan: 21

Pros

  • Long-term loan programs
  • Low minimum credit score
  • No minimum DTI

Cons

  • Relatively high minimum credit score
  • No HELOCs
  • No other home equity loan options

4. Best for Credit Monitoring: loanDepot

loanDepot is a non-bank lender that gives you convenience and efficiency online with the option to visit one or over 200 branches across the country. loanDepot offers fixed-rate and adjustable-rate conventional mortgages. You could also secure jumbo, FHA or VA loans, although conventional loans made up most of LoanDepot’s mortgage originations last year. LoanDepot also offers 10-, 15-, 20- and 30-year mortgage terms. 

In addition to mortgages and home refinancing, LoanDepot offers free credit score monitoring to help you prepare to apply for a mortgage. You'll need a minimum credit score of 620 and at least 5% downpayment. 

Loan types offered: Conventional, FHA, VA, and Jumbo

Credit score requirement: 620

Average days to close a loan: 30 days

Pros

  • Choose shorter repayment terms 
  • $1,000 Close-on-Time Guarantee
  • Possible home security, moving and smart home product discounts 
  • Use its online loan calculator to compare monthly payments and lifetime interest before deciding on a mortgage lender

Cons

  • No mortgage rates listed online
  • No USDA loans

5. Best for Lender Comparison: Credible Mortgage

Unlike individual mortgage lenders, Credible is a lender marketplace that allows you to compare multiple lenders. You'll enter basic financial information and get quotes from several lenders on standard home mortgage products. Credible offers a free, fully online mortgage broker service that lets you get quotes from online lenders. It offers straightforward, convenient service with the possibility of finding the lowest interest rates.

Loan types offered: Conventional, FHA, VA USDA and Jumbo

Credit score requirement: 620 (depends on the lender)

Average days to close a loan: 30 - 45 (depends on the lender)

Pros

  • Free option to compare lenders
  • Inputting information won't affect your credit score
  • Get excellent customer support

Cons

  • You'll have to enter your info to get interest rate quotes
  • Origination fees may be higher than the average
  • No live chat feature for customer support

6. Best for VA Loans: Veterans United

If you’ve logged some time in the military, Veterans United’s loans will likely be the best deal. Unlike other veteran-marketed loan programs, Veterans United only accepts active duty and veteran military members.

In addition to no-down-payment loans, you’ll also eliminate the private mortgage insurance you’ll have to pay with other mortgages.

Veterans United is also more forgiving of lower credit scores. Interest rates are lower than average.

Loan types offered: VA, USDA, FHA and Jumbo

Minimum credit score: 620

Average days to close a loan: 30

Pros

  • Streamlined loan application process
  • Competitive interest rates and loan terms
  • Excellent customer service

Cons

  • Funding fees
  • Limited physical locations

The Housing Market in South Carolina: An Overview

Overall, South Carolina is an affordable place to live. But there are areas of the state that will bump the price up significantly, particularly on the state’s many islands.

Total households: 2,023,085

Median list price: $284,797

3 most expensive cities in South Carolina to buy a house:

  • Sullivan’s Island: $3,691,531
  • Sheldon: $2,349,277
  • Kiawah Island: $1,850,844

3 most affordable cities in South Carolina to buy a house:

  • Columbia: $255,000
  • Rock Hill: $315,000
  • North Charleston: $337,000

Preparing for a Mortgage

Before you start researching the best mortgage companies in South Carolina, it can help to pull your documentation together. You can negotiate rates with confidence when you know in advance what lenders look for in a borrower. Here are some things you’ll need to do to prepare for your first mortgage.

Check Your Credit History

You’re entitled to one free credit report a year. Ideally, your credit score should be at least in the 600s. If not, work to improve it by paying your bills on time and dispute any false information.

Save for a Down Payment

Unless you qualify for down payment assistance, you’ll need to come up with at least 3% of the purchase price at closing. If you buy a home for $200,000, that means you’ll need $6,000 minimum. It can take time to save this amount, so be sure to plan ahead.

Pay Down Debts

One of the best things you can do to boost your approval chances is to reduce your debt. Lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio, which is the percentage of your income that goes toward paying your bills each month. Paying down that debt can help you improve that ratio.

Gather Your Documentation

Once you’re ready to start looking for a loan, gather your financial information. Lenders want to see recent bank statements, pay stubs and even tax returns for the past couple of years. You’ll also be asked to list your debts, so gather this information while you complete the application.

Set a Budget

There are plenty of online calculators that can ballpark the monthly payment you can expect. These tools aren’t foolproof, but they can help you determine how much home you can afford. Make sure you’re honest about whether or not a payment will fit with your budget.

Mind Your Spending

Try not to make any big purchases in the months leading up to requesting preapproval. Pay all your bills on time — especially your rent — and avoid any job changes. Even after you’ve been approved, keep your spending habits in check. Your lender will continue to monitor your financial standing all the way up to closing day.

Find a Real Estate Agent

An agent isn’t required but the expertise of a professional can help. You’ll probably be limited in the purchase price of your future home. An agent will know the properties in your market and will be able to help you get the most house for your budget.

LenderMinimum Credit Score Required
Chase620
Keller Mortgage600
SunTrust620
PNC Financial Services700
Cornerstone620

Mortgage Options

The type of loan you choose directly affects the interest rate you’ll pay. There are 5 major types of loans.

Conventional Loans

Conventional loans are riskier loans since they aren’t backed by the federal government. This could be the best deal if you can save up 20% for a down payment. Otherwise, you’ll likely be better off with an FHA, USDA or VA loan.

FHA Loans

FHA loans are government-backed loans through the Federal Housing Administration. Due to reduced risk, you’ll often be able to get an FHA loan with a lower down payment and more competitive interest rates.

USDA Loans

USDA loans could be a good option if you live outside an urban area. Check into the USDA’s Rural Development program. You can check your eligibility on the USDA website. These loans are also backed by the government.

VA Loans

VA loans are available through the Veterans Administration. Former and current military members have access to government-backed loans without a down payment, so it’s typically the best option for those who qualify.

Jumbo Loans

Jumbo loans are even riskier than a standard conventional loan. A jumbo loan helps pay for homes that exceed the maximum conventional loan amounts set by the government.

First Time Home Buyer Programs in South Carolina

Lenders for first time buyers can help you find the best rate. You’ll need to go to a state-approved lender that works with one of these programs if you qualify for assistance through one of South Carolina’s first time homebuyer offerings.

South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority’s Housing Homeownership Program

These programs allows low-to-moderate income borrowers in South Carolina to qualify for the state’s homeownership program. You’ll get competitive fixed interest rate loans through state-approved lenders.

You may also be able to get down payment assistance through either the down payment or closing costs. Closing costs usually anywhere from 3% – 6% of the total cost of your home and covers the fees associated with processing the loan.

SC Housing Mortgage Tax Credit

Through this program, you’ll get a tax credit worth either 50% of the interest you paid or $2,000, whichever is lowest. You’ll claim this credit at tax time to help reduce the taxes you pay.

Current Mortgage Rates in SC

You’re charged interest when you borrow money. Interest rates for mortgages are called mortgage rates. A variety of factors go into the rate lenders charge and many are related to the current economy. Inflation has a more gradual effect on rates but local or national changes in the housing market can also cause rates to change from one day to the next.

We regularly monitor South Carolina’s changing mortgage rates to make sure we’re bringing you the most current information possible.

Loan TypeRateAPR
30-year fixed 6.125% 6.198%
15-year fixed 5.995% 6.147%
7/1 ARM (adjustable rate) N/A N/A
5/1 ARM (adjustable rate) 6.083% 7.503%
Rates based on an average home price of $185,749 and a down payment of 20%.
See more mortgage rates on Zillow

Closing a Mortgage

A closing process will always be involved, whether your goal is to get a refinance quote or buy your first home. You can plan on it taking a few weeks, but the timeline will depend on the lender you choose. Time to close can range from 10 to 60 days, so be sure to ask as you shop around. Here is a sample of turnaround times for some popular South Carolina lenders.

LenderAverage Days to Close a Loan
SunTrust60
Homebridge Financial Services30
PennyMac10
LendingTree30

Buy a Home in Beautiful South Carolina

It’s important to know the best lenders when it’s time to get a purchase quote for your first home. Make sure you know in advance where you hope to live, as well as the home prices in that area. This will help ensure that you have the down payment and credit score you’ll need to buy the house you want.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

How much money should first-time home buyers in South Carolina save for a down payment?

A

First-time home buyers in South Carolina should aim to save at least 3-5% of the home’s purchase price for a down payment. However, saving more, ideally 20% of the purchase price, can help avoid additional costs such as private mortgage insurance.

Q

What are the typical closing costs for first-time home buyers in South Carolina?

A

Typical closing costs for first-time home buyers in South Carolina can range from 2% to 5% of the purchase price of the home. These costs may include fees for loan origination, appraisal, inspection, escrow services, title insurance, and property taxes.

 

Q

What ongoing costs should first-time home buyers budget for after purchasing a home in South Carolina?

A

First-time home buyers in South Carolina should budget for ongoing costs such as property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and maintenance expenses like lawn care or HVAC servicing. Additionally, they should also factor in utilities, HOA fees (if applicable), and potential repairs or upgrades that may be needed to maintain the property in the long run.

 

Get Ready for Take Off

Rocket Mortgage® is an online mortgage experience developed by the firm formerly known as Quicken Loans®, America’s largest mortgage lender. Rocket Mortgage® makes it easy to get a mortgage — you just tell the company about yourself, your home, your finances and Rocket Mortgage® gives you real interest rates and numbers. You can use Rocket Mortgage® to get approved, ask questions about your mortgage, manage your payments and more.

You can work at your own pace and someone is always there to answer your questions — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Want a fast, convenient way to get a mortgage? Give Rocket Mortgage® a try.