Before buying a home in South Carolina, consider the following rules and regulations, as well as state-specific costs.
Home seller and buyer laws
According to South Carolina law, sellers need to file a form that provides extensive information on the state of the home they’re selling to potential buyers, especially when it comes to defects or violations in zoning laws, building codes or similar restrictions. As part of the disclosure process, sellers must indicate whether they know of problems with a home’s water supply, sewage system, roof and gutters, as well as any plumbing, heating or cooling issues and pest infestations.
If a homeowner fails to pay their mortgage, lenders will often foreclose on the property. Some states let lenders foreclose without going to court. But other states, including South Carolina, require judicial foreclosure, which means lenders need to file a judicial lawsuit in order to proceed.
In so-called community property states, assets, such as property and earnings, and debt are split 50/50 when a couple goes through a divorce. South Carolina, however, is an equitable distribution state. This means that when a couple decides to divorce, they present their respective cases to a judge, who then decides how to equitably divide jointly owned property, such as a family home.
Many states do not require that a lawyer be present during a home closing. These are so-called escrow states, which means they allow homebuyers to work with escrow agents who are given the task of moving real estate holdings from the seller to the buyer.
Other states, including South Carolina, are so-called attorney states. This means lawyers must be physically present during real estate closings.
Real estate transfer taxes
At the time of closing, some states, including South Carolina, impose a transfer tax. This tax is based on the value of the property, and mortgage lenders are required to disclose the amount to potential buyers. In South Carolina, buyers can expect to pay a transfer tax of $1.85 for every $500 in home value, which means the purchase of a $200,000 home would come with a $740 transfer tax.
Property tax exemptions
In South Carolina, some homebuyers and current homeowners may qualify for property tax exemptions. For example, the Homestead exemption is offered to seniors over age 65, individuals who are legally blind, and those who are permanently and totally disabled. The tax exemption applies to the first $50,000 of a home’s market value. Under legislation passed in 2007, these individuals are already exempt from paying any school operating taxes in their respective areas.
Typical property taxes
According to Tax-Rates.org, South Carolina has some of the lowest property tax rates in the country, with the median at 0.5% of a property’s fair market value. As in other states, property taxes in South Carolina may differ by county. In large metropolitan areas, tax rates may be significantly higher. Homeowners in Richland County, for example, should expect to pay a 0.76% property tax, according to Tax-Rates.org.
Conforming loan limits
For a one-unit home, South Carolina has a maximum conforming loan limit of $484,350, which means borrowers can borrow up to that amount without having to apply for a jumbo mortgage.
Conforming loans are mortgages that adhere to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines. These government-backed organizations set national loan limits each year, and these help bring liquidity and stability to the conventional loan market.
In 2019, the maximum conforming loan limit for a one-unit home for most parts of the U.S. is $484,350. For consumers who have good credit, conforming loans generally offer the best interest rates.