State Employees Federal Credit Union (SEFCU) was founded in 1934. Headquartered in Albany, New York, SEFCU is committed to serving members throughout the Capital Region and Upstate New York through its personal and business banking, loans and lines of credit, insurance, and investing products. It has an A- BBB Rating.
Table of Contents: SEFCU Mortgage
SEFCU has been in operation 84 years and is one of the 50 largest credit unions in the U.S. As a credit union, SEFCU rewards its members by offering reduced fees, 47 convenient branch locations, and access to capital in historically underserved communities.
Eligibility requirements follow conventional credit union qualifications, such as residency in New York counties, employment/volunteerism at approved locations/associations, or familial relationship with a current SEFCU member, among others.
In November 2018, SEFCU made headlines for donating funds to 52 recently laid-off employees of the Cohoes Community Center in New York. The community center abruptly closed due to the inability to cover its ongoing debts, leaving a week’s worth of paychecks up in the air for its workers. SEFCU stepped in to cover the cost of these final-week paychecks, earning praise from the local community.
As a continually expanding financial institution, SEFCU adds more products, services, and locations each year, building upon its loan options and customer-service standards. Its mortgage qualifications and rates are featured on its website, making it easy for prospective homebuyers to begin their home-owning journey.
SEFCU Mortgage Facts
- Has 47 branches throughout the Capital Region (New York) and more than 300,000 members
- Offers online prequalification and application and allows borrowers to check the status of their home loans online
- Provides a mortgage calculator, a glossary of common mortgage terms, and a printable mortgage checklist
- Has a Financial Education Center that provides personalized financial coaching, a learning library, and various seminars and workshops
- Extends 13 types of home loans to suit the needs of prospective and current homebuyers
- Offers three types of home equity loans or lines of credit
Current SEFCU Mortgage Rates
SEFCU Mortgage Loans
SEFCU categorizes its mortgage loan products as 13 distinct offerings and three additional HELOC products. These home loans and lines of credit resemble the types of mortgage products provided by similar institutions, broadly falling under the umbrellas of fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, hybrid, construction, FHA, refinance, reverse, VA, USDA, and SONYMA mortgages.
This breadth of services makes SEFCU a viable lender for borrowers of all kinds, regardless of their mortgage needs and qualifications. While these loans are available only to members, the fact that SEFCU has more than 300,000 members speaks to the general scope and satisfaction of its customer base.
The mortgage loans available to SEFCU members include:
6-month rate lock
In a rising-rate environment, locking in a mortgage rate for the first six months of the loan can equate to hundreds of dollars saved right out of the gate. The 6-month rate lock mortgage is for borrowers who are building their own homes and require a construction loan. After six months, the loan converts into a 5/1 or 10/1 ARM, or a 10-, 12-, or 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.
270-day rate lock
Similarly, the 270-day rate lock loan from SEFCU grants borrowers up to nine months of lower mortgage payments during the construction process. Having a lower, expected mortgage payment early in the construction phase enables borrowers to budget more effectively. Once the 270-day period expires, loans convert to 5/1 or 10/1 ARMs.
15-year fixed-rate mortgage
A loan amortized over a 15-year period with a fixed interest rate affords borrowers a consistent monthly payment schedule and the ability to pay off the loan twice as fast as a 30-year mortgage. Because a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage term results in higher monthly payments, this loan may be better suited for borrowers who can make larger down payments and already have income levels high enough to meet these terms.
30-year fixed-rate mortgage
A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is the most popular home loan type and is often advertised for borrowers who expect to remain in the same home for seven years or more. Locking in a low-interest rate for 30 years can help homeowners save tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.
Borrowers who aren’t certain whether they will keep the same home for seven or more years may opt for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) because payments are often lower early on. SEFCU allows borrowers to lock in low mortgage rates for one, three, five, or 10 years, after which rates adjust annually. Rates typically do not rise more than 5% each year, however.
Hybrid mortgage loans incorporate the benefits of both types of traditional mortgages (fixed and adjustable). Available in 3/1, 5/1/, and 10/1 terms, a hybrid ARM provides a lower, fixed interest rate for three, five, or 10 years, then converts into an adjustable-rate loan. SEFCU notes that this type of arrangement is best suited for homeowners who expect to move or refinance when the mortgage adjusts.
First-time homebuyers or those unable to meet traditional mortgage criteria may find the Home Possible mortgage beneficial. Structured similarly to an FHA loan, mortgage insurance premiums are required upfront. However, those premiums are removed once borrowers attain a 78% loan-to-value ratio (they effectively own 22% of their home and still have 78% of the mortgage left to pay). Down payment options as low as 3% are available.
Carrying minimal down payments and qualifying criteria, FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration. These loans can have either fixed or adjustable rates and loan duration of 10, 20, 25, or 30 years. In exchange for easier access to home loans, borrowers must pay mortgage insurance (MIP).
The United States Department of Agriculture provides borrowers with the opportunity to purchase homes in rural areas with no money down and low, fixed-rate terms. USDA loans are available to consumers whose income limits are within 115% of the range the USDA sets each year, with national limits being $82,700 for households with one to four members. In New York, limits range from $82,700 – $125,950.
Qualified veterans, reservists, active-duty service members, and eligible family members can receive fixed- and adjustable-rate VA loans through the Veterans Administration with 0% down. Borrowers can fill out a VA Certificate of Eligibility to determine whether they qualify.
Existing homeowners can apply for refinancing for a number of reasons. A mortgage refinances loan can lead to long-term savings for borrowers by allowing them to access the equity in their homes.
Qualifying homeowners 62 years and older can receive tax-free cash payouts and lines of credit from the equity in their homes while not being required to make monthly mortgage payments. This option is usually best for those needing an additional cash flow in their retirement.
The State of New York Mortgage Agency offers low-interest, fixed-rate loans with down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers and veterans. This program allows lower-income consumers the chance to purchase homes without meeting standard qualifications.
SEFCU Online Experience
The SEFCU website is home to a number of resources that aid borrowers in their pursuit of homeownership, including calculators for tax savings, refinancing, APR, rent vs. own, payment/amortization, and debt consolidation, among others.
Applying for a Loan
SEFCU also provides an easy reference guide for consumers wanting to know the type of information required to begin the loan process. To apply online, over the phone, or in person, be prepared to provide the following:
- Social Security number
- Current pay stubs from the past two years
- Investment, retirement, and banking statements from the past two months
- Life insurance policy
- Auto and auto loan information
- Credit card and personal loan information
SEFCU members can complete their loan applications and or request prequalification online through the company’s website. The organization’s process is transparent, with fees, payment schedules, and current mortgage rates provided from the start.
While SEFCU does not appear in the annual J.D. Power Primary Mortgage Originator rankings nor the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s monthly complaint report, it does consistently receive 4.5/5 star ratings at its flagship locations on Yelp.
SEFCU Lender Grades
With an A- rating from the Better Business Bureau, SEFCU is widely recognized for its reputation for member services and convenience. Since 2015, 27 complaints have been filed against SEFCU, with one-third pertaining to “billings/collections” issues. According to the BBB, however, those complaints have either been “answered” or “resolved.”
SEFCU is one of the largest and longest-operating credit unions in the country and has a number of noteworthy accreditations, including:
- Federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCAU)
- An equal housing opportunity lender
- An approved FHA, USDA, and VA lender
- NMLS ID 490518
SEFCU Lender Qualifications
While SEFCU is known for its loan diversity, the following mortgage rates and loan information are publically available as baseline metrics. Additional guidelines for other loan types are available through appointment.
|Mortgage type||Down payment requirement||Down payment assistance programs available?||Median income or debt-to-income requirements||Mortgage rate|
|30-year fixed-rate FHA||<3.5%||Yes||NA||0.04875|
|USDA||0||Yes||$82,700 - 125,950||>4%|
SEFCU doesn’t solely use minimum credit score requirements (typically 700+) to dictate loan eligibility but looks into the borrower’s credit history as a whole. SEFCU also provides links to free credit reports online so borrowers can see where they may be able to improve.
Because each borrower has unique financial circumstances and each lender follows varying loan criteria, generalized guidelines may offer practical benchmarks as to whether someone is likely to qualify for a given loan. However, these guidelines may not wholly represent the entirety of the mortgage negotiation nor the fine print that is customary in the home loan process.
As such, borrowers are always encouraged to speak with lenders, real estate agents, and financial advisors to ascertain their options.
Traditionally, fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages require down payments in the 20% range, although down payment assistance programs such as VA, USDA, FHA, or SEFCU’s Mortgage Match can reduce monthly mortgage obligations as well as interest rates. Rural and veteran homebuyers often benefit from greater loan criteria flexibility, as lenders are comfortable with loosening certain requirements.
SEFCU Phone Number & Additional Details
- Homepage URL: https://www.sefcu.com/
- Company Phone: 800-727-3328
- Headquarters Address: 575 Broadway Albany, NY, 12207