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$15 million First-time Home Buyer Program Will Salute South Carolina Heroes - 5/9/2011

Today, the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority (SC State Housing) announced a program designed to help South Carolina law enforcement officers, teachers, firefighters, nurses, veterans and EMS personnel who want to become homeowners. Housing officials joined Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department for the announcement.

Buying a first home can be a real challenge, even if you are employed in a noble profession, but with a modest salary. “Palmetto Heroes” will provide low interest home loans to current South Carolina law enforcement, teachers, firefighters, nurses, veterans and EMS personnel who qualify. The $15 million initiative will also provide another crucial incentive –down payment assistance of up to $5,000.

“Being able to afford a home is a growing concern for everyone in our state,” said Valarie Williams, SC State Housing’s Executive Director. “It’s important that we salute these Palmetto State heroes and invest in them.” She said the Palmetto Heroes program might even strengthen recruitment and retention in these career choices, vital to our state’s overall wellbeing. “This is just one way SC State Housing can recognize these dedicated individuals who contribute so much to our state.”

Palmetto Heroes is available to law enforcement officers, teachers, firefighters, veterans, nurses, and EMS personnel who are currently certified in their profession, and reside and work in South Carolina or have a contract to begin working here within 60 days of closing on a home.

Eligible Palmetto Heroes home buyers can get a fixed interest rate of 4.625% on a mortgage through SC State Housing’s First-time Home Buyer Program as well as down payment assistance of up to $5,000. This down payment assistance could even be forgivable over time in some cases, depending on the borrower’s income. A grant from SC Realtors® has helped to make this assistance possible.

Those who do not qualify for the Palmetto Heroes program may still qualify for one of the other lending programs offered by SC State Housing.  The regular first time home buyer’s program is available year round to a broad range of South Carolinians seeking to become homeowners.

Mortgage loans can be up to 30 years and are available through any of SC State Housing’s network of more than 200 participating private sector lenders and brokers statewide. Maximum income limits are based on the median income per county and household composition. The Palmetto Heroes Program may not be used for refinancing.

For more information, contact one of the Realtors®, banks or mortgage brokers certified in SC State Housing programs.  A list is available at the agency’s website:

SC State Housing officials hope the term “first-time” will not discourage potential home buyers because the definition is very broad.  For example, in 34 targeted counties (Abbeville, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston*, Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Florence, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Kershaw, Laurens, Lee, McCormick, Marion, Marlboro, Newberry, Orangeburg, Saluda, Sumter, Union, Williamsburg *County Census Division #53, Ravenel Division) the provision is waived altogether as long as you do not have title to another home when you close on your new loan. Even in non-targeted counties (Aiken, Anderson, Charleston, Greenwood, Greenville, Lancaster, Lexington, Oconee, Pickens, Richland, Spartanburg, York) a first-time home buyer is someone who has not owned a home in the last three years. Also, buyers moving from a non-targeted area into a targeted area may qualify so long as they do not own a home at time of closing and meet the other qualifications for home price and family income.

SC State Housing is a self-supporting agency of state government and does not receive a state appropriation.