Assistance Available for SC Buyers in Need of a Down Payment

So many things seem to block saving for a down payment on a house.  High rent payments, car repairs, hospital bills, plus other expenses get in the way.  But, there is a special program which allows South Carolina buyers to become homeowners quicker!  It is called the down payment assistance SC program.  This program combines either a conventional, FHA or USDA loan along with $6000 in down payment assistance (DPA).  Therefore, it bridges the gap between the purchase price and loan amount.

Down Payment Assistance SC Features

Choosing to become a first time home buyer is a big step for South Carolina buyers. It means choosing to own over renting from a landlord. But, even coming up with a low down payment can take a while for many. Fortunately, the SC Housing Home buyer program provides much needed down payment assistance to SC buyers. 

down payment assistance sc
Photo by Wil Amani on Unsplash

By combining the down payment assistance SC program benefits with either a conventional, USDA, or FHA loan, it improves home ownership opportunities.  Some of the wonderful benefits of this first time home buyer product include the following.

  • $6000 in down payment assistance (forgivable & nonforgivable options)
  • May be used for down payment, closing costs, and/or pre-paids
  • Existing or new construction homes
  • Repayable over a 10 or 20 year term
  • Below market interest rate
  • Eligible for qualifying SC buyers and properties

In order to receive these benefits, there are some requirements.

SC DPA Homebuyer Eligibility Requirements

Like any mortgage home loan, buyers must fit within the program guidelines. But, do not worry. South Carolina Housing has done a great job by ensuring many first time home buyers may qualify. Some of the guidelines include credit score, maximum debt to income ratios, and income limits.  Then there are also property requirements which we will discuss later.

Down Payment Assistance SC First Time Buyer Requirement

Technically, there is a first time buyer requirement. But, if you are not a first time home buyer, please read on. Because there are ways that repeat buyers in SC may use SC down payment assistance. Basically, there is an exception for buying homes in a targeted county. SC Housing is able to provide exceptions for targeted counties because these areas have experienced chronic economic stress in the past. Although, it does not mean it is a bad place to live.

Buyers must have not owned a principal residence within the last 3 years if buying in these non-targeted counties. Aiken, Anderson, Charleston, Greenville, Greenwood, Lancaster, Lexington, Oconee, Pickens, Richland, Spartanburg, and York. 

Although, buyers purchasing in targeted counties may have owned another home prior to purchasing a new home. Basically, a buyer may close on the purchase and sale of a home on the same day in the following counties.

SC Targeted Counties

Targeted SC counties include Horry, Georgetown, Abbeville, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Berkeley, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Florence, Georgetown, Hampton, Jasper, Kershaw, Laurens, Lee, McCormick, Marion, Marlboro, Newberry, Orangeburg, Saluda, Sumter, Union, Williamsburg. 

First Time Buyer Exceptions in Non-Targeted SC Counties

The down payment assistance SC program makes exceptions for the first time buyer rule. If buyers fit the following categories in a non-targeted SC county, being a first time home buyer is not required.

So, SC State Housing’s DPA product is as flexible as can be for many South Carolina buyers.

Down Payment Assistance SC Income Limits

As with most DPA products, there are maximum household income limits in order to qualify.  Household income limits are based on the number of people living in the home.  Additionally, all income received by each household member 18 and older must be included under the limit. 

Keep in mind, if using USDA for the first mortgage, that the USDA household income limit must be met as well.  Each county has its own income limit.  These limits are divided among 1 – 2 family members and 3 or more members.  Furthermore, they are broken down into groups of targeted versus non-targeted.  So first find your county in a targeted or non-targeted county. 

Next, look under the list for the number of household members which will occupy the home. The charts are provided further down in this article.

Down Payment Assistance SC Guidelines

This SC down payment assistance loan is available for purchase money loans.  But if using an FHA loan, it may also be used to pay off a construction loan.  So here are some of the guidelines for these mortgage products.

  • Minimum credit score:  USDA = 640, FHA = 620
  • Collections may sometimes be left open per program guidelines
  • Maximum debt to income ratio is 45%
    • If required to be a manual underwrite, then ratios are lower
  • 6% maximum seller paid costs for the buyer
  • Homebuyer education required – lender will provide

But don’t try to qualify yourself.  Rather, contact a SC Housing approved loan officer and lender about qualification.

Down Payment Assistance SC Property Requirements

  • $225,000 home price limit in most counties (a few max out at $255,000 or $285,000
down payment assistance sc usda
USDA Eligible Areas. Ask if Your SC Area is USDA Approved
  • Must be located in SC
  • May use USDA if property is USDA eligible
  • Home types allowed include single family home, town home, off frame modular, FHA approved condos
  • Primary residence purchase only
  • Land cannot exceed 40% of the appraised value

In addition to these, there are other general requirements such as applicable insurance, acceptable condition, and others.  Feel free to ask about any further details if there is a concern on a property.

SC Non-Targeted County Income Limits

SC Housing Home Buyer Household Income Limits Effective 6/15/2018

County1 – 2 Persons3+ Persons

SC Targeted County Income Limits

SC Housing Home Buyer Household Income Limits Effective 6/15/2018

County1 – 2 Persons3+ Persons
Any other county not listed$75,000$87,500

Hopefully, you have learned several key points in this article including there is money available for many buyers, you don’t have to be a first time home buyer, and there are many home loan options for South Carolina buyers.

Written By: Russell Smith