State Employees’ Credit Union mortgage review
This lender has no application or credit report fees, but availability is limited to a handful of states.
State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) offers conventional fixed- or adjustable-rate mortgage products. It also has a program to help first-time homebuyers get up to 100% financing and closing cost assistance. But it’s not ideal if you’re looking for government-insured loans with flexible credit underwriting — and it’s only available in five states.
Compared to most other lenders, SECU is refreshingly transparent, especially about the interest rates it offers and the fees it charges. And while the credit union doesn’t offer government-backed loans, its assistance programs and specialty mortgages provide similar terms and requirements, even financing up to 100% of your home’s purchase price.
But most of its loan products are only available in SECU’s five-state footprint, and the few customers that have reviewed the lender complain of dated equipment and services and report poor customer service experiences. When we called to speak to a loan officer on behalf of Finder, it was difficult to keep someone on the line and we were hung up on twice.
State Employees’ Credit Union Requirements
Conventional loans have a maximum 100% loan-to-value (LTV). SECU currently prefers a maximum debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of 43%. But due to new rules released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in December of 2020, this requirement could change as lenders are able to adjust the factors that determine borrower eligibility.
SECU doesn’t set interest rates based on your FICO score, but your credit history may impact your ability to qualify for a loan.
To get your mortgage loan approved, SECU looks at four factors:
- Your ability to pay
- Your credit history
- Available collateral
- Purpose of the loan
You’ll need to submit the following documents with your loan application:
- Current and former addresses
- Social Security number
- Employment history
- Proof of income
- Documents that show receipt or obligation of alimony or child support
- Monthly obligations and debts, such as car loans and credit card bills
Costs and fees
SECU lays out most of its rates and fees online. However, borrowers are also responsible for third-party fees. Third-party fees for a HELOC loan, for example, range from $0 to $1,600.
Some costs to prepare for include:
- Origination fee of 1% of the loan amount up to $2,500 for all mortgage loans
- No application or credit report fees
- Third-party fees, such as appraisal fees and title report fees
How to apply for a mortgage with State Employees’ Credit Union
You can request a loan at a local branch, online or by phone using SECU’s 24/7 Member Services. If you’re not already a member, you’ll need to apply for membership before you can get a home loan.
To apply for a home loan online:
- Go to SECU’s homepage and choose Loan products.
- Under Mortgages, choose the home loan you’re applying for.
- On the right-hand side under Request a loan, select Request online.
- Choose Enroll now to make an account.
- Enter your account information, read and accept the terms, then choose Continue.
- Select whether you want to Pre-qualify or Apply.
- Choose the home loan type and click Submit.
- Continue following the prompts to complete the online form. Click Submit.
- Check your message center for future confirmations and communications from SECU.
What types of mortgages can I get through State Employees’ Credit Union?
Other mortgage products offered by State Employees’ Credit Union
SECU also offers the following special mortgage programs:
- Refinance. You can refinance your home under its fixed- or adjustable-rate mortgage programs.
- HELOC. SECU offers home equity lines of credit up to 90% of the value of your home, excluding what you owe on your first mortgage. There are no origination fees for HELOCs, and APRs start at 4.25%.
- First Time Homebuyer’s Mortgage. Qualified first-time homebuyers can finance up to 100% of the purchase price under a five-year ARM. Private mortgage insurance isn’t required.
- Construction-Permanent Mortgage. Build a new home or renovate an existing home under SECU’s 5-year ARM program or through its 15- and 20-year fixed-rate home loan programs. You’ll pay one set of closing costs.
- Manufactured Home Loans. SECU will finance single and double-wide manufactured homes. These manufactured home loans have a maximum term of 15 years and are eligible as a five-year ARM, fixed-rate mortgage, or through SECU’s First Time Homebuyer’s Mortgage program.
- Historic Preservation Homes. Historic homes under the jurisdiction of the NC Historic Preservation Society or a local Historic Preservation Board can finance up to 70% of the purchase price.
How State Employees’ Credit Union’s mortgage products compare to other lenders
While SECU doesn’t offer government-backed mortgages, like FHA and VA, the credit union has quite a few specialty loans that might help fill that gap, such as the First Time Homebuyer’s Mortgage that allows borrowers to finance 100% of their home purchase. The lender also offers special construction loans and finances manufactured homes — something many lenders won’t even consider.
SECU also offers the following borrower assistance programs:
- SECU Mortgage Assistance Program. SECU members who find themselves struggling to make their mortgage payments can sit down with a loan officer through the SECU Mortgage Assistance Program and develop an individualized financial plan. Options include temporarily modifying the payment amount, temporarily deferring payment or modifying the loan terms.
- Mortgage Credit Certificates. Mortgage Credit Certificates (MCC) are federal income tax credits for 30% of the mortgage interest payments for a maximum benefit of $2,000 per year. MCCs are issued through the NC Housing Finance Agency for a member’s first home. You can apply for an MCC with your loan application for a nonrefundable fee of $475.
- FHLBA Grant Program. The Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta offers a special grant to first-time homebuyers. As long as the borrower contributes at least $1,000 toward closing costs, FHLBA matches it four times up to $5,000, and the borrower doesn’t have to pay it back as long as they stay in the home for five years.
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State Employees’ Credit Union reviews and complaints
Quality customer reviews for this lender are hard to come by. SECU doesn’t have any member reviews on Trustpilot, and it isn’t accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). But as of August 2021, the credit union holds an A+ rating with the BBB because it responds to customer complaints. It received 61 complaints in the last three years and closed 20 complaints in the last 12 months.
A few customers praise SECU for its transparency — it lays out most of its fees up front. But most reviews are negative, citing a dated banking system and poor customer service.
Pros and cons of State Employees’ Credit Union
- No application or credit report fees. SECU is transparent about its origination fee and doesn’t charge application or credit report fees.
- Lists interest rates on its website. SECU publishes its lending rates, including the fully indexed rate and APR. Customers can find which loan best fits their situation — such as loan type and loan-to-value ratio — to get an interest rate estimate.
- Mortgage Assistance Program. SECU is willing to work with borrowers who fall behind on their loan payments.
- No government-insured loans. This lender does not offer FHA, VA or USDA mortgage loans.
- Must be a SECU member. Only members can apply for a mortgage loan. Members must have a minimum $25 share account. If your account drops below $25, you’ll incur a service fee.
- Most home loans are only available in five states. Fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages are restricted to homes in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
What is the State Employees’ Credit Union?
In 1937, State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) started with 17 members. Today, it serves over 2.4 million members, with over $40 billion in assets. It has more than 260 branch locations and offers loan products, investment accounts, insurance and estate planning.
SECU historical mortgage data
Here’s a look at SECU’s reported mortgage purchase and refinance originations for last year.
|Loan type||Applications denied||Loans originated||$ Amount (originated loans)|
Source: 2019 nationwide data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act