We know that many home loan officers have horrible reputations. Some brokers only see their clients as transactions, and a means to make quick money. They come off as impatient and pushy, failing to understand that this is a very big decision for you. At Mija Mortgage, we take the opposite approach. We encourage our clients to take as much time as needed to ask us questions and review mortgage documents. We could say that our mission is to exceed your expectations, but we'd rather just show you. From assistance finding FHA, VA, or other loans to refinancing your current mortgage, Mija is the team you can trust.
Here are just a few reasons why home buyers choose Mija Mortgage:
To understand the benefits of working with a mortgage broker, you must first understand their role in the home-buying process.
Your mortgage broker is a third party that works to connect you with mortgage lenders. Essentially, a mortgage broker works as an intermediary between a person who wants to buy a home and the entities offering loans to buy a home. The mortgage broker works with both the borrower and lender to get the borrower approved. They also verify and collect paperwork from the borrower that the lender needs to finish a home purchase. Typically, mortgage brokers have relationships with several home loan lenders. Mija Mortgage, for example, has access to 50 different lenders, which gives us a wide range of home loans in West Ashley, SC, from which to choose.
In addition to finding a home loan lender, your mortgage broker will help you settle on the best loan options and interest rates for your budget. Ideally, your mortgage broker will take a great deal of stress and legwork off your plate while also potentially saving you money.
If you're ready to buy a home, getting pre-qualified is a great choice that will streamline the entire process. Your mortgage broker makes getting pre-approved easy by obtaining all the documents needed to get you pre-qualified. In taking a look at your application, they will determine if you're ready for the pre-approval process. If your application needs additional items, the mortgage company will help point you in the right direction to ensure your application is as strong as it can be. Your mortgage broker will also walk you through the different types of loans, from Conventional and FHA to VA and USDA.
In order to be pre-approved for a home in South Carolina, you must have the following:
Conventional loans can be used to purchase a new home or refinance your current one. Conventional loans include fixed-rate mortgages and adjustable-rate mortgages. Generally, borrowers must put down a 3% down payment for owner-occupants, 10% for a vacation property, and 20% for an investment home. If you are able to pay 20% of the total cost of the home, you can avoid private mortgage insurance, which is otherwise required. Conventional mortgages are often preferred by buyers with good credit or people needing a non-owner-occupied mortgage.
FHA mortgages are issued by the U.S. government and backed by the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). This loan is often preferred by first-time homebuyers because it only requires a 3.5% down payment and offers more flexibility with credit requirements and underwriting standards. FHA loans have several requirements you must meet to qualify. Contact Mija Mortgage today to learn more about FHA loans and whether or not they're best for your financial situation.
Also backed by the government, these loans are insured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and don't require money down. These loans have lower insurance requirements when compared to FHA loans, offer 100% financing if you qualify, and allow for closing costs to be covered by the seller. In order to qualify for a USDA loan, you must live in a rural area, and your household income must meet certain standards. These loans are often preferred by low-income citizens who live in rural parts of South Carolina.
Also known as VA or Veteran's Affairs loans, these mortgages are reserved for the brave men and women who served in the military. VA loans help provide our military members, veterans, and their families with favorable loan terms and an easy home ownership experience. Often, those who qualify are not required to make a down payment on their home. Additionally, these loans often include less expensive closing costs.
If you are a veteran or the family member of a veteran, contact Mija Mortgage today to speak with our Vetted VA Professional, Debbie Haberny. Debbie helps our military members, veterans, and their family members obtain home loans utilizing veteran benefits and would be happy to help as you search for a home.
Q. I was talking to my spouse about mortgage brokers, and they mentioned the phrase home loan originator. What's the difference between a broker and a loan originator?
A. The mortgage industry is full of confusing jobs and titles, making it easy to confuse roles and responsibilities. Such is the case with mortgage brokers and home loan originators. Though their roles share similarities, a home loan originator in West Ashley, SC, works for a bank or credit union, while a mortgage broker works for a brokerage company. Home loan originators and mortgage brokers are both licensed by the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS).
Q. I've heard from everyone that you must have mortgage insurance to buy a home. What is mortgage insurance?
A. Essentially, mortgage insurance helps protect lenders if a borrower forecloses on the home they bought. One advantage of mortgage insurance is that when borrowers pay it, lenders can often grant loans to buyers when they might not have otherwise. Though not always required to buy a home, mortgage insurance is often needed for down payments of less than 20%.
Q. I have just been pre-approved to buy a beautiful home in South Carolina. Is there anything I shouldn't do now that I'm pre-qualified?
A. Mortgage companies like Mija Mortgage, make getting pre-qualified for a home easy. However, as your loan process continues, your lender is required to run a new credit report before closing on a home. For that reason, it's to avoid any activity that might affect your credit score, such as:
Q. My brother-in-law recently refinanced his home in South Carolina. What is refinancing, and should I consider refinancing my home too?
A. Refinancing your home basically means you're swapping your current mortgage for a new one, most often with a lower interest rate. If you would like to reduce the term of your loan, lower your monthly mortgage payments, or consolidate debt, refinancing may be a smart option. Many homeowners also choose to refinance if they want to switch from adjustable-rate mortgages to fixed-rate mortgages or to get cash back for home renovations. To learn whether refinancing is a viable option for your situation, contact Mija Mortgage ASAP, as loan rates change frequently.
Here at Mija Mortgage, we believe that the best communities begin with the dream of home ownership. Our mission is to make those dreams come true, with personalized service, expert guidance, and good old-fashioned hard work. As one of the most trusted mortgage companies in West Ashley, SC, we have years of experience working with a diverse range of clients, from first-time buyers and investors to self-employed borrowers and non-native English speakers.
Though every mortgage situation is different, one thing never changes: our commitment to clients. Contact our office today to get started on an exceptional home-buying experience.
Environmentalists and volunteers went to work in West Ashley to restore some marshland and fix ongoing water problems in the area.CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Environmentalists and volunteers went to work in West Ashley to restore some marshland and fix ongoing water problems in the area.Volunteers helping SCDNR, the Charleston Waterkeeper and the South Carolina Aquarium worked for hours over the course of five days. They moved and dug out mud by hand to build a new water inlet near the Ashleyville and Historic Maryville neighborh...
Environmentalists and volunteers went to work in West Ashley to restore some marshland and fix ongoing water problems in the area.
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Environmentalists and volunteers went to work in West Ashley to restore some marshland and fix ongoing water problems in the area.
Volunteers helping SCDNR, the Charleston Waterkeeper and the South Carolina Aquarium worked for hours over the course of five days. They moved and dug out mud by hand to build a new water inlet near the Ashleyville and Historic Maryville neighborhood.
Charleston Waterkeeper Staff Scientist and Volunteer Coordinator Cheryl Carmack says it has been a great few days seeing people come together and learn about the program and the neighborhood.
“This is a historic neighborhood,” Carmack said. “So it’s exciting to come out here and help daylight this creek and get volunteers involved in every step of the process and to make such a huge impact for our water quality in the Ashley River.”
Environmental workers say the neighbors came to them when they realized the marsh was dying to see what could be done. Ashleyville residents were worried they would lose the valuable natural resources. Now, environmentalists are trying something new to help.
Michael Hodges is a Wildlife Biologist at SCDNR. He also manages the South Carolina Oyster Shell Dropoff Recycling Program there. He says the marsh is suffering from hurricane destruction and drought dry-up. Going forward, the channels will help retain water, and give incoming water a place to go.
“This is not something that has been done in South Carolina through hand excavation of new tidal channels,” Hodges explains. “Which is fancy words for moving mud, about 100 feet of new tidal channel which will be between two and six inches deep from front to back.”
One small scoop at a time, bucket by bucket, the volunteers are hoping to make a big impact on the marsh.
“It will help to combat with the projected sea level rise that we’re going to see here in South Carolina,” Hodges says. “By planting more marsh grass in here, that can actually increase the surface elevation of the shoreline. It can help with a little bit of flooding that could take place.”
Work wrapped on one inlet Thursday, but the groups will be back to plant marsh grass this year and continue digging two more channels within the next few years.
Sara McDonald, the director of conservation at the South Carolina Aquarium, says their team has been involved on this project for years, helping with the paperwork and grant writing to make it happen. She explains that a lot of their work happens outside the office.
“We work with communities and empower them to collect data and connect data with decision makers to help create solutions to problems such as plastic pollution, coastal flooding as a result of sea level rise and climate change,” McDonald says.
Their work with the marsh in Ashleyville is far from over, with more plans to plant marsh grass and dig channels. Hodges says it will be exciting to see how the project plays out over the next couple years.
A federal grant from wildlife and fisheries is funding parts of the project.
Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.
Just a few turns off Savannah Highway, as the car dealerships and fast-food joints give way to expansive views of saltwater and marsh, a one-story home is nestled among a thicket of wildlife.Four massive live oak trees anchor the lawn. Bird feeders dangle from the heavy branches. A gravel path snakes its way through nearly 100 species of flowering plants, trees, grasses, shrubs and more. Bees, butterflies and other animals flap and crawl, happy to call this place home.Elliotte Quinn has created an oasis in his front yard....
Just a few turns off Savannah Highway, as the car dealerships and fast-food joints give way to expansive views of saltwater and marsh, a one-story home is nestled among a thicket of wildlife.
Four massive live oak trees anchor the lawn. Bird feeders dangle from the heavy branches. A gravel path snakes its way through nearly 100 species of flowering plants, trees, grasses, shrubs and more. Bees, butterflies and other animals flap and crawl, happy to call this place home.
Elliotte Quinn has created an oasis in his front yard.
Quinn, who moved with his family to Edgewater Park three years ago, is part of a growing number of property owners choosing to embrace native planting. The technique uses specific plant species to attract native pollinators, ultimately creating a balanced food web.
Proponents argue native plants help battle erosion, reduce air pollution and promote biodiversity. Pesticides and lawn mowers are no longer needed as the ecosystem begins to keep itself in check.
Native yards vastly differ depending on the gardener. But they almost never fit the mold of a traditional American lawn — grassy and weedless, with a few evergreen bushes framing the front, said David Manger, owner of Roots and Shoots, a native plant nursery in West Ashley.
A native yard, particularly to the untrained eye, can look wild and unkempt, Manger said. Some property owners find themselves fighting community associations, disapproving neighbors or government ordinances to keep their chosen aesthetic.
Quinn can attest. The father of three, who works during the day as a lawyer specializing in construction defects, has received two complaints in under a year from Charleston County’s zoning and planning department.
Code enforcement officers told him the front yard violated an ordinance concerning weeds and rank vegetation. The most recent complaint — a June 7 letter shared with The Post and Courier — threatened a summons and hefty fine if he didn’t get rid of the “overgrowth.”
Both times, after Quinn explained his choice to cultivate the yard with native plants, county officials dropped the case.
Quinn’s passion for native planting exploded during summer 2020, in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. He started a vegetable garden with his young daughters, spurred by a childhood interest in wildlife and conservation.
They grew tomatoes and pumpkins, but worms began destroying the plants. Not wanting to spray the garden with pesticides, Quinn began reading about natural alternatives. He learned what he could plant to attract predator insects.
“That kind of spiraled off into something of an obsession with native plants,” he said.
Quinn ripped up the grass in his front yard, tossed out some seeds and bedded a few plants. He eventually hired someone to turn over the topsoil, put down compost and create gravel walkways.
The garden — which his daughters affectionately call “Quinn’s Meadow” — grew from there.
Green is the dominant color across the yard. But if a visitor sat on the front porch swing where Quinn likes to spend early mornings, they’d notice pockets of flowers interspersed with grass and fruit trees. They might hear the chirp of a painted bunting, delighting in its feathery rainbow of reds, blues and greens.
Manger, who used to lead the Charleston Permaculture Guild, said the number of people committing to sustainable agriculture has increased over the years. He’s noticed property owners beginning to steer away from typical yard spaces.
Edgewater Park, where Quinn lives, doesn’t have a homeowners association. But Manger said more people are coming to Roots and Shoots for advice on how to use native plants and work around stringent rules.
A compromise, for instance, could be to cover half of the yard with native plants and leave a small mowing strip of grass at the front, Manger said. This signals to neighbors the garden is both maintained and intentionally designed.
Quinn first received an email from Charleston County in September 2022, he said. A code enforcement officer told him they’d gotten a complaint about his yard and wanted to talk.
By the time they spoke on the phone, the officer had driven by the property and realized the design was intentional — not the result of a lazy homeowner. The officer closed out the complaint.
Months later, on June 7, county officials notified Quinn they’d received another complaint of vegetation overgrowth. An officer inspected the property and found him in violation of a county ordinance prohibiting uncultivated, dense overgrowth, the letter states.
The county gave Quinn until June 22 to remove it, threatening him with a summons and $1,087 fine. He responded with an eight-page letter explaining why his yard complies with the ordinance.
Quinn spends hours each month intentionally cultivating his garden — planting, weeding and watering new plants — he wrote. Many of the native plants are considered priority species by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Prohibiting a property owner from growing them would conflict with state environmental and resource protection statutes, Quinn said.
County officials relented, deciding he hadn’t violated any ordinances. They closed the case.
Quinn feels bothered by the whole situation but is grateful to have a legal background, he said. The homeowner wondered about others who might find themselves subject to similar scrutiny.
If a government went through with imposing a fine or issuing a summons for native planting, Quinn offered to represent them pro bono — to stand up for others who want to change how we do landscaping, he said.
A Charleston County spokeswoman refused to make anyone from its zoning and planning department available for an interview. The department takes all complaints seriously and investigates them, she said.
Manger hopes that as native planting becomes more common, code enforcement officers will have more tools in their arsenal to decipher a native lawn from an overgrown one.
“It’s definitely a fine line,” he said. “You’d kind of have to know what plants you’re looking at.”
Plenty of flowers and a general diversity of plant species are usually signs of a native yard, Manger said. But the best way to find out is by asking the gardener.
If you spoke to Quinn, he’d proudly show you his favorite flower: the swamp rose mallow. The native hibiscus, with big white petals and a dark-pink center, blooms only for a day.
If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a chimney bee pollinating the flower. This specialist insect primarily forages on hibiscus plants; Quinn knows he’d never see one if he had a traditional lawn.
Call Jocelyn Grzeszczak at 843-323-9175. Follow her on Twitter at @jocgrz.
Some members of Charleston City Council squealed when they saw the price for reviving a dead pig.And apparently they aren’t hog wild about any of the other options, either.That leaves the fate of West Ashley’s Sumar Street redevelopment plan murky for another week, and that’s too bad. Because this is more important than some folks realize.You see, the trajectory of revitalization in the biggest area of Charleston hinges on this decision. Not that you’d know it from council’s response....
Some members of Charleston City Council squealed when they saw the price for reviving a dead pig.
And apparently they aren’t hog wild about any of the other options, either.
That leaves the fate of West Ashley’s Sumar Street redevelopment plan murky for another week, and that’s too bad. Because this is more important than some folks realize.
You see, the trajectory of revitalization in the biggest area of Charleston hinges on this decision. Not that you’d know it from council’s response.
Back in April, several council members said $45 million was way too much to spend on a redevelopment of the three-acre site of that old Piggly Wiggly off Sam Rittenberg Boulevard.
Which is kind of on-brand for the city’s historical treatment of West Ashley.
A little background: The city bought the site of the former grocery store years ago, at the demand of local residents, to keep it from becoming a convenience store. People who live in the area argued that the property, as the gateway to the city’s largest population hub, deserved something more substantial.
So the city contracted with a developer who came up with a design for West Ashley’s first significant municipal services building, along with neighborhood meeting space, a public park and some room for small businesses and restaurants.
Which, not coincidentally, is exactly what surveys showed West Ashley residents want there.
So that’s what architects designed … along with underground parking to make the most of a tight space. But evidently that seemed too extravagant for a part of town that doesn’t even rate a Logan’s or Bonefish Grill.
Council members demanded the developer give them some more, uh, cost-effective options.
Well, a City Council committee saw the cheaper options on Monday … and didn’t have much to say. Probably because they also saw how public opinion is running on this.
At a packed-house public meeting last week, residents were given three choices. 1) The current design. 2) The same development, only smaller, with a multistory parking deck that might save $8 million to $9 million … but unsurprisingly eats up much of the open space. 3) A development with about one-third the building space and a huge surface parking lot.
The results were telling: 72% voted to stick with the underground parking. Charles Smith, a member of the West Ashley Revitalization Commission since its inception, says there’s a reason for so much community unanimity these days.
“We have accepted less than the best for long enough,” Smith says. “This is a gateway project that sets the bar for everything that comes after it.”
He’s right, and here’s an example. Right now, the owner of Ashley Landing Shopping Center — which sits next to the Sumar Street site — is planning to move its Publix into the strip center across the parking lot and replace the grocery store with apartments.
Residents rightly worry about the developer getting all that right for the neighborhood. The city, Smith says, needs to set the example.
“How can we ask that developer to bring their A-game to that site if we’re not willing to bring our A-game next door?”
Yep. And all this will have a cascading effect down Sam Rittenberg Boulevard and along Savannah Highway. Smith notes the West Ashley Revitalization Commission understands the area is destined for more urban-level density, but would like to keep it in the areas currently covered in old, needing-to-be-replaced strip malls.
You know, instead of building them farther out and adding to everyone’s commute.
But some folks on council, which never blinks at spending twice as much on grout for the Italian marble at the Gaillard, are trying to be cheap here.
And it all seems to revolve around the difference in cost for underground parking versus a parking garage. But it’s not that big a deal.
The city’s portion of this redevelopment would be paid for with parking revenue and tax-increment financing — the same model considered for the infrastructure at Union Pier’s redevelopment. Can you imagine asking downtown residents to accept a cheaper alternative?
“You’d get laughed out of the room,” Smith notes.
Well, Charleston’s biggest population center deserves no less.
The council’s Committee on Real Estate heard the options on Monday, but didn’t recommend one plan over another. The usually plain-spoken council members didn’t really say much of anything that suggested how they feel about this latest development. What’s that mean?
Well, it means the showdown at next week’s City Council meeting could go any number of ways.
But you can bet if they send the developer back to the drawing board, literally, it will only bolster the perception that Charleston’s biggest community is considered its least important.
And that’s why we can’t have nice things.
The redevelopment of the old Piggly Wiggly site near the Northbridge in West Ashley is continuing to move forward.CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The redevelopment of the old Piggly Wiggly site near the Northbridge in West Ashley is continuing to move forward.The city of Charleston presented three options to community members to hear their feedback on which option they preferred Thursday night.Stormwater, traffic and noise were among the most common issues people shared at the meeting.“All the water from the shopp...
The redevelopment of the old Piggly Wiggly site near the Northbridge in West Ashley is continuing to move forward.
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The redevelopment of the old Piggly Wiggly site near the Northbridge in West Ashley is continuing to move forward.
The city of Charleston presented three options to community members to hear their feedback on which option they preferred Thursday night.
Stormwater, traffic and noise were among the most common issues people shared at the meeting.
“All the water from the shopping center now comes to the pond in front of my house,” community member Nell Postell said.
City officials presented three options with the main difference being parking.
Option one is the most expensive option– costing the city around $43 million, but it was the most popular vote amongst community members.
It includes underground parking, which officials say could store water in the event of a storm.
“We have flooding problems everywhere, it’s all over the news, well this is how we can address it,” community member Kenneth Marolda said.
Option two includes an above ground parking garage and is about $10 million less expensive than the first proposal. It has the same commercial capacity as the first option but has less civic space.
Finally, option three includes a regular parking lot, decreasing the number of people the venue can hold and the total cost.
Although City of Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg did not specifically say he favors the option with the underground parking, he stressed how important it is to him for the development to include as much civic space as possible.
“I feel the most important thing about this whole project and development is providing a place where families in West Ashley can gather together,” Tecklenburg said.
City officials say part of the city’s portion of this project will be paid for via a special tax district in place.
Because of the site’s location, and because it will be partially funded with taxpayer money, city officials stressed the importance of getting the community on board with the development.
“It’s really important to get public feedback on this because this is the gateway into West Ashley and the city of Charleston,” West Ashley Coordinator Eric Pohlman said.
The plans will next be brought in front of the city council for a vote on June 20.
Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.
Shane Melton, who lives in West Ashley, received a big surprise during what should have been a routine visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles.CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Shane Melton, who lives in West Ashley, received a big surprise during what should have been a routine visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles.Melton learned he is a dead man walking.“There’s just nothing I can do,” he says.The Social Security Administration incorrectly declared him dead, he says. He discovered this when he we...
Shane Melton, who lives in West Ashley, received a big surprise during what should have been a routine visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Shane Melton, who lives in West Ashley, received a big surprise during what should have been a routine visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Melton learned he is a dead man walking.
“There’s just nothing I can do,” he says.
The Social Security Administration incorrectly declared him dead, he says. He discovered this when he went to renew his driver’s license. Instead, he was shuffled into a back room and was accused of impersonating a dead man and stealing his identity, Melton says.
“They started interrogating me saying I was deceased and told me they’re going to call the cops on me,” he says. “They confiscated my ID, so I left.”
Melton says this initially didn’t seem like a major issue, but then he was laid off from his job.
“This has upended our entire lives,” his wife, Morgan Key, says.
Because the government considers him dead, Melton says companies won’t hire him. The family even had to move in with his parents to cut costs.
“He’s done interviews, job interviews, and everything,” Key says. “He’s doing everything that he can to get that job but they just can’t hire him legally.”
Being incorrectly declared dead can cause a lengthy list of problems, according to attorney Mark Bringardner.
“That’s going to prevent you from being able to take out a loan, apply for a job, pass any sort of background check, and your credit score will instantly go to zero,” he says. “So, that will present a whole host of challenges that can’t be fixed overnight and will take several months, if not longer, to fix between submitting the paperwork to the social security administration, as well as the credit score company to restore your credit.”
This issue is not uncommon, Bringardner says.
“It’s estimated this happens between 6,000 to 12,000 times a year or more, so that’s roughly 20 to 30 people a day,” he says. “Usually that occurs because of a clerical error at the Social Security Administration office, a hospital, a doctor’s office, or somebody filling out a form incorrectly and checking the wrong box.”
Catching and correcting the problem quickly is key, Bringardner says.
“Anyone who’s been wrongfully declared dead by the social security administration should contact them immediately and try to submit the paperwork,” he says.
But Melton says he’s gone to the social security office three times with various paperwork. He says the issue is the items the Social Security Administration can use to prove he’s alive either require a valid ID to obtain, like a passport or certified medical records, or only apply to certain people, such as military records or a church membership.
Melton says he doesn’t have an ID, any of the other documents or a path forward—leaving him frustrated and trying to fix what seems like an unfixable mistake he didn’t make.
“It can happen to anybody,” he says. “I never thought it would happen to me until I go to the DMV one day and boom, I’m dead. There’s nothing I can do about it. I didn’t cause the problem and they’re pretty much making me fix the problem when it’s impossible fix.”
The Social Security Administration did not respond to a request for comment.
Some additional advice from Bringardner: make sure you’re periodically checking your credit report to ensure this same mistake hasn’t happened to you. If it does, be prepared to involve a lawyer to help sort things out, especially your credit.
Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.