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State Employees’ Credit Union mortgage review

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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.

Details

Loan types Conventional, Refinance, HELOC
Other minimum credits SECU is willing to work with borrowers with bad or no credit
Origination fee 0.75% of the loan amount up to $1,500 for all mortgage loans
Other fees Third-party fees, such as appraisal fees and title report fees
Third-party fees for a HELOC range from $0 to $1,600
Available States Only available in: GA, ND, SC, TN, VA

Pros

  • No application or credit report fees
  • Lists interest rates on its website
  • Mortgage Assistance Program

Cons

  • No government-insured loans
  • Must be a SECU member
  • Most home loans are only available in five states
SECU doesn’t have any member reviews on Trustpilot and it isn't accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). But it does hold an A+ rating with the BBB because it responds to customer complaints. It received 59 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 upfront. Most reviews are negative, citing a dated banking system and poor customer service.

What types of loans does SECU offer?

  • Conventional. Fixed-rate mortgages with loan terms up to 20 years and interest rates as low as 3.25%. Adjustable-rate mortgages have loan terms up to 30 years, with interest rates as low as 3.375%.

Other loans offered by SECU

  • 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. 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 5-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 5-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.

SECU fees

While SECU lays out most of its fees online, borrowers are responsible for third-party fees.

  • Origination fee of 0.75% of the loan amount up to $1,500 for all mortgage loans
  • Third-party fees, such as appraisal fees and title report fees
  • Third-party fees for a HELOC range from $0 to $1,600

SECU special 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.

Requirements

Conventional loans have a maximum 100% loan-to-value (LTV). SECU prefers a maximum debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of 43%.

SECU does not set interest rates based on your FICO score. Members get the same loan rate, regardless of their credit score. But your credit history may impact your ability to qualify for a loan. Fortunately, SECU is willing to work with borrowers with bad or no credit.

Documentation

To get your loan approved, SECU looks at four factors: Your ability to pay, your credit history, available collateral and the 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

How to get a home loan with SECU

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:

  1. Go to SECU’s homepage.
  2. Click Loan products.
  3. Under Mortgages, click the home loan you’re applying for.
  4. On the right-hand side under Request a loan, click Request online.
  5. Click Enroll now to make an account.
  6. Enter your account information, read and accept the terms, then click Continue.
  7. Select whether you want to Pre-qualify or Apply.
  8. Choose the home loan type. Click Submit.
  9. Continue following the prompts to complete the online form. Click Submit.
  10. Check your message center for future confirmations and communications from SECU.

Pros and cons of SECU

Pros

  • 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 that fall behind on their loan payments.

Cons

  • No government-insured loans. SECU does not offer FHA, VA or USDA loans.
  • Must be a SECU member. Only SECU members can apply for a home 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 North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Tennessee.
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What is SECU?

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.

Frequently asked questions

Expert review

Kimberly Ellis

Review by


Kimberly Ellis is a writer at Finder. She hails from New York City with a BA from Queens College and a New York State teaching certificate. After teaching in both public and private schools, Kimberly decided to take the world by storm and dive into the media industry — where she covers everything from home loans and investing to K–12 education and shopping. She’s also an aspiring polyglot, always in a book and forever on the hunt for the perfect classic red lipstick.

Expert review

SECU offers many loan options with financing up to 100% of the purchase price. It’s also upfront about most fees and interest rates. But you’ll need to qualify for membership and most home loans are only available in five states. Users report that its banking services are old, money gets stuck in its ATMs and customer service is less than stellar. When we called to speak to a loan officer on behalf of finder.com, it was difficult to keep someone on the line and we were hung up on twice.

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