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Mortgage FAQs

Below you’ll find answers to many frequently asked questions about mortgages. If you don’t see your answer here, contact your local mortgage lender. We’ll help answer any remaining questions and work to get you well on your way to just the right mortgage.


How much home can I afford to purchase?

The home you can afford is based on the amount of mortgage loan you can comfortably support. Generally, the amount of mortgage you qualify for is based on some basic information such as: your income, debts, assets, credit history, current employment situation, and any other obligations you may owe.

Another factor that will impact the amount of home you can afford is how much cash is required for down payment and closing costs.

Try our “How Much Home Can I Afford?” calculator to get an estimate and see how much you can potentially afford.

Should I consider pre-qualification for a mortgage before I shop for a home?

Getting prequalified for your mortgage is an important step before you shop for a home. It tells you how much home you can buy and makes applying for your mortgage easier. A mortgage prequalification can also give you additional leverage with a seller in negotiating the best possible terms of the sale.


What types of mortgages are available?
  • Fixed-rate mortgage. You pay the same interest rate and same monthly payment of principal and interest for the duration of the mortgage. The most common terms are 30, 20 and 15 years. Fixed-rate mortgages are best if you plan on being in your home for a while.
  • Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). The interest rate stays fixed for an initial interest rate period, which may range from 1 to 10 years. The rate may adjust up or down annually for the life of the loan based on a specified index. An ARM is a good option if you believe interest rates will go down over the next few years or if you plan on staying in your home 5 to 7 years or less.
Are there any special programs for first-time home buyers?

First-time home buyer programs are for individuals who meet certain income requirements, who are financing property in certain census tracts, or who meet other special requirements. We participate in special loan programs throughout the state and USDA Rural Housing Loans. Benefits include:

  • Lower down payments than most other financing options so you will not need as much cash to buy a home.
  • Competitive interest rates.
  • Reduced closing costs and mortgage loan fees.
  • Other restrictions may apply.
What are the benefits of a 15-year mortgage?

A 15-year mortgage allows you to own your home in half the time of a conventional mortgage with a 30-year term. Although payments are higher with a 15-year mortgage, you could save thousands of dollars in interest and build equity faster.

How can I lock my interest rate?

Generally, you must complete a full mortgage application in order to lock a rate. You can work with your loan originator to discuss your mortgage options. He or she will also help you complete the application and lock in a rate when you are ready.

What is an escrow account?

In addition to the principal and interest payment on your mortgage loan, you may elect to impound additional funds each month in an escrow account to pay for property taxes and insurance (or private mortgage insurance). With some mortgage products, impounding for taxes and insurance may be required.


Having an escrow account allows you to put aside a small portion each month toward the costs of insurance and property taxes. You send the additional funds each month when you make your mortgage payment. We hold the money in an escrow account and make the payments from the account when they are due.

What should I expect at closing?

While every closing is different, here’s what you can expect. Basically, you’ll sit at a table with your realtor, the realtor for the seller, possibly the seller, and an attorney. The attorney will have a stack of papers for you and the seller to sign. While he or she will give you a basic explanation of each paper, you may want to take the time to read each one and/or consult with your agent to make sure you know exactly what you are signing. Before you go to closing, we will give you a booklet explaining the closing costs, a “good faith estimate” of how much cash you will have to supply at closing, and a list of documents you will need at closing. If you are required to bring funds to closing, make sure you contact the attorney’s office for the exact amount and bring a certified check.

How much cash will I need for closing costs?

Closing costs generally range from 2% to 3% of your loan amount. Closing costs can be divided into three main categories:

  • Lender fees. Fees can include origination and points.
  • Third-party fees. These fees vary by state and the attorney you select to close your loan. They can include attorney’s fees for closing, title exam, credit report, appraisal, title insurance and recording.
  • Prepaid items. These are items collected at the time of closing but are not really considered costs including interim interest, taxes, and hazard insurance.

You will be provided with an estimate of your closing costs soon after your application has been received. These estimates could change if you change the product type or loan amount.

What does NMLS stand for?

The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry (NMLS) is the legal system of record for licensing in all participating states, the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories. In these jurisdictions, NMLS is the official and sole system for companies and individuals seeking to apply for, amend, renew and surrender licenses managed in the NMLS on behalf of the jurisdiction’s governmental agencies. NMLS itself does not grant or deny license authority.

South State Bank NMLS# 403455

Where can I find more resources?

We have use information and resources in our Advice Center and our First Time Home Buyer section.  You can find out more about the Loan Process and download Mortgage Loan Checklist to help you along the way.

We encourage you to review the many helpful resources and the “Shopping for Your Home” video on if you are thinking about buying a home. The information provided will help you in assessing how much of a home you can afford, and will provide information on housing counselors in your area. We encourage the use of a housing counselor prior to buying a home. In addition to mortgage personnel, counselors can assist you by providing information regarding questions or concerns surrounding your purchase, fair housing laws, credit issues and foreclosure prevention.