Initiative will provide help to SC teachers who want to buy first homes

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Two state agencies today announced a joint $20 million initiative that will offer low-interest home loans to South Carolina teachers – and help with their down payments, too.

The 2008 Palmetto Hero Program, run jointly by the South Carolina State Housing Authority and the South Carolina Department of Education, will offer the assistance to eligible teachers hoping to purchase their first homes.

“Buying that first home can really be a challenge – especially for teachers, whose salaries are moderate at best,” said State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex. “We’re hoping that this new program will provide an additional incentive for young people to enter the teaching profession and remain in it.”

The new program is available to teachers who have valid South Carolina teacher certifications, currently reside and teach in the state, or have a contract to begin teaching here within 60 days of closing on a home.

Eligible teachers can get a 5.875 percent interest rate through the First Time Homebuyer Program. In addition, teachers who qualify based on income can take advantage of two down payment assistance loans, one of them forgivable if the teacher stays in the house for five years.

“Homeownership affordability is a growing concern for everyone in our state, especially for our teachers, who have the responsibility of educating our children yet often struggle to make ends meet with their salaries,” said Christopher Fraser, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners for the Authority.

“It is important that we invest in our teachers as they continue to invest in our children. This is just one way the Authority can recognize these dedicated individuals who contribute to South Carolina’s future, and at the same time strengthen recruitment and retention of this valuable resource.”

Mortgage loan terms can be up to 30 years and are available to qualified buyers through any of the Authority’s more than 200 participating lenders or brokers statewide. Maximum income limits, based on median income per county, range from a low of $16,300 to a high of $73,800. Maximum purchase price limits for new construction as well as existing homes range from $180,144 to $284,050, also depending on county. The current rate is subject to change due to market conditions. These loans cannot be used for refinancing.

For more information on this limited offer, contact South Carolina State Housing at 1-800-432-5007 or (803) 896-9508, or visit the Authority’s website for a list of participating lenders. Hearing and/or speech-impaired individuals may use the Authority’s TTY line (803) 896-8831.

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