South Carolina has a gift it would like to give to middle-income homebuyers that could smooth the path to a mortgage.
S.C. Housing, the state’s housing authority, is offering up to $2,000 a year that buyers can use as a tax credit, down payment assistance or a way to reduce the monthly payment, said Clayton Ingram, the authority’s director of marketing.
The agency also has a program aimed at lower-income home buyers, but the $2,000 is available to people in Horry and Georgetown counties where household income is as much as $20,000 above the area’s per person median income. Ingram said a one- or two-person household in Horry County can have an income up to $66,000 and still be eligible. Households with three or more people can have a $77,000 per year income.
Borrowers further can count the $2,000 a year as a part of their income, which could influence the ability to get a mortgage at all.
The median income in Horry County is $42,183 a year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The program is valid on homes that cost up to $225,000.
Ingram said the $2,000 can’t be used if the borrowers are getting a loan from S.C. Help, the housing authority’s lending arm. Borrowers who get loans through S.C. Help could get up to $8,000 in down payment assistance.
He said that borrowers in the program during 2013 had an average income of $44,000 a year and got loans that averaged $105,000.
The $2,000 payment is for people who’ve never owned a home in South Carolina, but Ingram said the program can be used by those who haven’t owned a home in South Carolina for three years or who don’t own a home at the time they close on their new home loan.
Ingram said that while S.C. Housing is a department of state government, it gets no state funding.
The agency sells bonds that are repaid by borrowers’ mortgage payments. The mortgage payments also fund the daily operations of the agency.
For more information, go to www.schousing.com.
Stemming the tide
The S.C. Association of Realtors has launched a lobbying effort that it hopes will lead to more affordable homeowner insurance rates.
The Competitive Insurance Act was introduced in the state Senate last year and now is in its Committee on Banking and Insurance. According to the association, the bill would protect homeowners from insurance cost fluctuations, regardless of the location, according to the association. Further, it will:
• Reduce risks by luring more insurance companies to the state, which could lead to “much-needed competition.”
• Create greater transparency by requiring the state insurance director to hold an annual coastal meeting and to submit an annual report to the General Assembly.
• Create incentives for more insurance coverage for coastal regions.
• Help homeowners better prepare for storms.
• Make insurance companies give consumers a recap of coverage provided, summary of discounts and options to increase deductibles.
The association is asking homeowners to get involved by visiting supporthomeowners.org and by contacting their state legislators.
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.