Have you found your dream home in beautiful, sunny Florida, but are concerned that you may not have enough cash for a down payment or realtor fees? Perhaps you have dreams of fruit trees growing in your own backyard but are worried that you won’t qualify for a home loan.
It’s common to have such concerns when purchasing your first home. The process can feel intimidating. The good news is that there are many programs offered by the state of Florida that may help your dream of home ownership become a reality.
The Florida Housing Finance Corporation offers several assistance programs to help you buy your first home. Most of these programs are for first-time home buyers or anyone who has not owned a home for at least three years. There are also specific programs designed for military members and veterans and people purchasing homes in particular areas of Florida where 70% or more households earn 80% or less of the median income for the state.
To qualify for most of these programs, you must meet income and credit requirements. There also may be restrictions on the purchase price of the house. You also may be required to attend a real estate education class. The home you are buying through one of these programs must be used as your primary residence, and of course, the house must be in Florida.
If you meet these requirements, you could receive assistance in making your down payment or in paying the closing costs for the loan. You could also qualify for tax credits based on a percentage of your mortgage interest payments.
Read on to discover some of the state programs available to help even a first-time home buyer purchase a house in the Sunshine State.
All Home Buyers
Florida HFA Preferred Conventional Loan
If your nest egg isn’t quite large enough to cover the 20% of the home’s cost for a down payment, and you are worried about your ability to pay for closing costs, you could ask your lending institution if you qualify for the HFA Preferred Conventional Loan. This 30-year-fixed-rate loan allows buyers to combine their closing costs into the amount of the loan they take out for the home.
Another benefit of this program is that your mortgage insurance, which is required by a home buyer who does not have a 20% down payment, is offered at a reduced rate.
Florida HFA Preferred 3% Plus Conventional Loan
Those who qualify for this state program will not only be able to purchase a home with a low down payment, but this 30-year-fixed-rate loan also comes with a grant that will pay for 3% of the down payment and the loan’s closing costs.
If you are still not able to pay for the additional 17% of your down payment after you receive the grant money, the program allows you to purchase mortgage insurance at an affordable rate. The 3% down payment and the closing costs never have to be repaid.
Florida HFA Preferred 4% Plus Conventional Loan
This program is similar to the previous two HFA programs on the list. Home buyers who receive a 4% grant to be used as a down payment will pay a higher interest rate than those who receive a 3% grant.
For the First-time Home Buyer
Florida Mortgage Credit Certificate Program
First-time home buyers can receive a tax credit each year they live in the house after qualifying for this unique program. The home buyer can claim up to 50% of their paid mortgage interest each year. The yearly cap on the program is $2,000, and you can use the money to pay down the principle of your loan at a faster rate or use it for other household expenses.
For Those Purchasing Homes in Specific Counties
Hardest-Hit Fund Down Payment Assistance Program
Those wishing to purchase a home in Clay, Duval, Hillsborough, Osceola, or Pasco counties may qualify for a program that provides first-time homebuyers with up to $15,000 in assistance for a down payment and closing costs.
Check with your realtor to learn about income limits and home purchase price limits to see if you can qualify for this program. Our Clever Partner Agents are particularly useful in assisting low-income home buyers.
For members of the military
Florida First and Military Heroes Loan Programs
Our active duty military and veteran military members may qualify for a 30-year, fixed-rate, government-insured loans. The military hero doesn’t have to be a first-time home buyer to have access to this program. You can even combine these loans with other Florida state housing programs that are available.
Purchasing a home is a complicated process. Our Clever Partner Agents are all top performers in their markets. Let the best real estate agents in the business walk you through the home buying process.