Things To Know Before Buying a House in South Carolina

So, you’ve decided to buy a house in South Carolina. Congratulations and a warm welcome to the Palmetto State! Deciding to purchase your home in SC is the first big step in your journey. To help you along, we’ve compiled a list of things to know before buying your home. 


What are the requirements for buying a house in SC?

The requirements for buying a house in SC include the ability to provide a down payment and a credit score that meets your lender’s criteria for acquiring a mortgage loan. 

How much do you have to put down on a house in South Carolina? 

A first-time homebuyer in South Carolina with a 20% downpayment can get a conventional loan with a low-interest rate and will not have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). There are other options which allow for a lower down payment, however. These are addressed in the next section.

Does South Carolina have a down payment assistance program?  

South Carolina does have a down payment assistance program. TheSC Homebuyers Assistance program offers up to $7,000 that can be used to cover part of the down payment or your closing costs. 

SC also offers the following assistance to homebuyers: 

  • Conventional 97 loan:  The Conventional 97 program allows homebuyers to get a conventional mortgage loan with only 3% down. The program is named for the 97% of the home value financed by the lender after the buyer makes a 3% down payment.
  • FHA  (Federal Housing Administration) loan requires a 3.5% down payment.  
  • VA (Veteran’s Affairs) or a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) loan. No down payment is required for these loans. The USDA home loan program encourages rural and suburban homeownership by offering zero-down-payment mortgages to lower-income buyers.

A minimum credit score of 640 is needed for Conventional 97, VA, and USDA loans; a 620 minimum credit score is required for an FHA loan.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) provides mortgage insurance on single-family, multifamily, manufactured home, and hospital loans made by FHA-approved lenders throughout the United States and its territories.

SC Housing’s down-payment assistance offerings are second mortgages with no interest, no monthly payments, and the option to forgive the loan altogether. That forgiveness happens at two different intervals based on how much you earn:

  • Ten years – If you earn 80 percent or less of the area median income (AMI) when you take out the down payment assistance loan, the loan will be forgiven after one decade, provided you live in the home the entire time.
  • Twenty years – If you earn above the 80-percent threshold, the loan will be forgiven in 20 years. Again, you must live in the property for the entire 20-year term.

Does South Carolina have a first-time homebuyer program?  

South Carolina does have a first-time homebuyer program. The SC Housing’s Homebuyer Program includes 30-year conventional, FHA, VA and USDA loans with competitive fixed interest rates and down-payment assistance. The program is open to first-time homebuyers, categorized as those who have not owned a home in the past three years or repeat buyers in certain counties. Single parents, veterans, or those with a member of the household living with a disability, may also qualify for the program.

Borrower requirements:

  • 3% down payment for a conventional loan; 3.5% down payment for an FHA loan; no down payment required for VA or USDA loan.
  • 640 minimum credit score for conventional, VA and USDA loans; 620 minimum credit score for FHA loans.
  • Borrowers must meet SC Housing income limits based on property location and occupancy.

Property requirements:

  • Must meet SC Housing purchase price limits.
  • The property must be a single-family home, an off-frame modular home, a townhome, or an FHA-approved condominium.
  • It must be in South Carolina.

Do you need a realtor to buy a house in South Carolina?  

You do not need a realtor to buy a house in South Carolina. Typically, it is the seller who engages the services of a realtor. However, a realtor’s expertise can be helpful if you are a first-time homebuyer. The realtor’s services include researching facts about a neighborhood, negotiating an offer, sourcing homes within your budget, and arranging a home inspection (due diligence.)

What credit score is needed to buy a house in South Carolina?

620 or higher You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit reports every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus by visiting You can also create a myEquifax account to get six free Equifax credit reports each year.

Does South Carolina have a mortgage tax?  

South Carolina has a mortgage tax and a transfer tax.   

Transfer tax:  South Carolina has a deed-recording fee of $1.85 per $500 of value.

Transfer tax/mortgage tax:  South Carolina has a deed-recording fee of $1.85 per $500 of value, made up of $1.30 for the state and $0.55 for the county.

Can I use cash to pay for a home in South Carolina?

You can certainly pay for a home with cash in South Carolina. According to the Washington Post, 30% of Americans bought homes with cash in 2021. Paying for a home in full with cash has many benefits. 

  • You have a strong bargaining position which, in a hot market, gives you an edge over other buyers.
  • You won’t have mortgage interest or need PMI (private mortgage insurance)
  • You may be able to choose a home and quickly close when you pay with cash

 When making an offer, cash purchasers should present a letter from their bank stating that the buyer’s money is readily available for the purchase. In addition, agents recommend the buyer include an appraisal and inspection contingency with their offer. 

How old do you have to be to buy a house in South Carolina? 

You must be 18 years old to buy a house In the United States. However, it is legal to buy a home without a co-signer at the age of majority, which is 18 years old in most states. Reaching the age of majority empowers individuals to sign legal agreements and complete real estate transactions.

Does the seller need an attorney at closing in the state of South Carolina

The seller does need an attorney to process a real estate closing transaction. South Carolina is one of several states that require a real estate attorney to be involved, but it’s one of just a select few that mandate the attorney be physically present at the closing. The SC Supreme Court has listed the essential components of a closing as five categories: title search, loan documents, closing, recordation of documents, and disbursement of transaction funds.

Does South Carolina have due diligence fees?  

SC has due diligence fees, which are paid when the buyer elects to perform inspections on the property, and this is agreed upon in the contract. Inspections must be completed by a specific date called an inspection contingency date or the “due diligence period.”

Who pays for title insurance in SC? 

All buyers pay title insurance fees in SCTitle insurance is the title company’s promise that there are no liens or other stipulations on the property you are purchasing and that the seller has a right to sell it. The title company charges title insurance fees to cover the title search, examination, insurance, document preparation, and other miscellaneous costs. The fees average about $400.

What do you need to qualify for a home loan in South Carolina?  

To qualify for a home loan in SC, you need proof of these five things: Capacity, capital, collateral, conditions, and credit (rating). 

Capacity is a borrower’s debt-to-income ratio (DTI).  Lenders calculate DTI by adding a borrower’s total monthly debt payments and dividing that by the borrower’s gross monthly income. The lower an applicant’s DTI, the better the chance of qualifying for a new loan.

Capital is the amount of money a borrower has. Capital contributions indicate the borrower’s level of investment which can make lenders more comfortable extending credit.

Collateral is an asset that can help a borrower secure a loan. It assures the lender that if the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender can get something back by repossessing the collateral. In this case, your home.

Conditions include a borrower’s length of employment and future job stability,the interest rate, and the amount of principal borrowed.

Credit rating measures the applicant’s history of borrowing and repaying loans on time. 

How long does it take to close on a house in South Carolina

The average time it takes to close on a house in South Carolina is 35 days. 

How much are closing costs in South Carolina?  

South Carolina’s closing costs average 1.66% to 4.94% of a home’s value. This variance depends on several factors: location, services used, and lender.

What is the average mortgage in South Carolina? 

In South Carolina, the average monthly mortgage payment is $1250. 

To determine how much the average borrower pays for their monthly mortgage, used the average home sales price according to data from the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In Q1 of 2022, the average price was $507,800. That typical down payment of 13% (as reported by the National Association of Realtors) determined an average loan size. Freddie Mac data was also used to find average mortgage rates for 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages in Q1 of 2022. These were 3.82% and 3.04%, respectively.

What is the best place to buy a home in South Carolina?

What’s the best place to buy a new home in SC? That depends. Are you raising a family? Downsizing? Retiring? Are you looking for a cottage, condo, or full-sized house? Looking to live along the coast or Upstate? If you are looking for a diverse community minutes from Beaufort that supports health and wellness, offers wide green spaces, and has a variety of homes priced from the $600,000s and up, take a closer look at Celadon. 

Located in “America’s Happiest Seaside Town,” as voted by Coastal Living, Celadon is an active community on Lady’s Island in Beaufort, South Carolina. This thoughtfully planned community is a traditional neighborhood development, meaning residents can easily access daily activities and public spaces.

Finding your dream home means something different to everyone. At Celadon, we have worked hard to create multiple purchasing options depending on your desired level of involvement. With our dedicated team here to help you every step of the way, finding the perfect fit will be a breeze. You can choose one of our currently available homes featured below,  pick out a homesite and build one of our pre-approved plans, or choose to custom design your dream home with your own architect and builder. At Celadon, there is something for everyone; let us help you start enjoying life simplified.

We’d love to show you our cottages, condos, and homesites. Contact us to arrange a Discovery Visit for two nights and three days. Explore Beaufort, and Celadon.