Katie Ziraldo3-minute read
UPDATED: March 07, 2023
When you’re preparing to buy your first home, there are a number of considerations to make. Where do you want to live? How much space do you need? And perhaps most importantly, how are you going to finance your home purchase?
If saving for a house feels overwhelming or downright impossible, it might be comforting to know there are down payment assistance programs that may be able to lighten the financial load.
In this article, we’re breaking down the first-time home buyer grants and programs you should be aware of before buying a house in the Sunshine State.
If you’re buying a house in Florida through an approved lender, you may qualify for various loan options and down payment assistance programs that can lessen the upfront costs of home buying. Let’s break down your options.
Provided by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, the Florida Assist Second Mortgage Program – known more casually as Florida Assist – offers eligible borrowers the opportunity to receive up to $7,500 at 0% interest on a deferred second mortgage.
This money can be used toward a down payment on a conventional loan. Borrowers who get an FHA, VA or a USDA loan could be eligible to receive up to $10,000. The repayment of this money is deferred until the home is sold or the borrower refinances their mortgage.
The Florida Homeownership Loan Program (FL HLP) allows home buyers to receive up to $10,000 in financial assistance as a second mortgage at 3% interest. The mortgage must be paid off in 15 years unless the borrower moves, refinances or transfers ownership of the home to someone else. In the case of these events, the loan balance must be paid in full.
The HFA Preferred and HFA Advantage PLUS programs allow home buyers to receive 3% – 5% of their initial mortgage amount, which can be used toward a down payment and closing costs. This is considered a second mortgage, which will be forgiven at 20% per year over a 5-year term.
Qualified veterans and active-duty military personnel can be eligible for the Salute Our Soldiers assistance program, which offers 30-year fixed-rate mortgages for government-backed FHA, VA and USDA loans. This loan option provides lower mortgage insurance costs and can be used alongside other closing cost and down payment assistance programs, like Florida Assist.
The Hometown Heroes program, which launched in early June 2022, is available to qualifying law enforcement offers, firefighters, educators, healthcare professionals, childcare employees and active military or veterans.
Provided by Florida Housing, this program provides down payment and closing cost assistance to Florida residents based on their income and employment. Eligible borrowers will receive up to 5% of the first mortgage loan amount with 0% interest, to be repaid as a 30-year deferred second mortgage.
Wondering who qualifies for down payment assistance in Florida? First and foremost, borrowers must meet the qualifications for the mortgage loan of their choice, including credit score and debt-to-income (DTI) ratio requirements. Most down payment assistance options also require a credit score of 640, a DTI of 45% and the completion of a home buying course.
But there are a few other parameters in place for each program that you should be aware of. The specific income and purchase price limits for down payment assistance vary by county, so use the Florida Housing tool to find the limits for your specific area.
Someone who hasn’t owned and occupied a home in the past 3 years is considered a first-time home buyer.
To qualify for down payment assistance in Florida, borrowers must work with an approved lender, qualify for a loan, have a credit score of 640 or higher, complete a home buyer education course and be under the income limits for their local area.
For more information on homeownership assistance in Florida, check out the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which provides more details on the specific programs offered in each Floridian county.
Buying your first house should be exciting, so don’t make it harder than it needs to be. If you qualify for down payment assistance, becoming a Florida homeowner might be easier and more affordable than you think. Just be sure to consider all your options to make the best financial decision for your long-term success.
Ready to take the next step in your home buying journey? Get approved with Rocket MortgageⓇ today!
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