Teachers, law enforcement officers, and medical workers can apply for low-interest loans under a state program re-launched this week. The South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority announced Monday that its “Palmetto Heroes” program would offer a fixed interest rate of 4.625 percent for qualified employees seeking to buy a house for the first time.
Authority spokesman Clayton Ingram said it also offers down-payment assistance of up to $5,000.
For a lot of people, we find that they can make the regular house payments, but saving up for the down payment is really the stumbling block. This not only offers below-market interest rates, but it also offers down payment assistance to help them get in that house.
This is the third time the Housing Authority has offered the program, which it finances through bonds. The first was in 2008 as a way for teachers to buy a home. That $20 million pool was popular enough to run out of money in two months. The Authority expanded its program last year to add law enforcement personnel, firefighters, nurses, veterans, and EMS medical staff.
Ingram said that $40 million program resulted in over 300 loans.
About half of those who took these mortgages were teachers, so we’re trying to encourage more law enforcement and more first-responders to get involved. I think teachers, because they were involved in the first program, have a little bit of an inside knowledge and edge… so we’re trying to get it out to more of the “heroes.”
The loans are handled by more than 200 brokers across South Carolina. The authority finances the loans whenever it has leftover funds available.
There are several conditions a person must meet to be eligible for the loans, which vary by county. For example, a teacher must hold a teaching certificate. They must also be currently working as a teacher or plan to begin working within 60 days of receiving the loan.
Ingram says no person on the program has ever defaulted on their loan.
In fact, a few of them have already paid off their mortgage. We’ve seen great success with these. For the most part, these are people who are gainfully employed and tend to be employed long-term in their profession.
Eligible homebuyers can get a fixed interest rate of 4.6 percent for up to 30 years. The program cannot be used for refinancing.