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Florida First-Time Homebuyer Programs of 2019      

Purchasing your first home can be an exciting experience. At the same time, it can be stressful, especially if you don’t know whether you’ll qualify for a mortgage or be able to come up with a down payment and other costs.

Thankfully, if you are a first-time homebuyer in Florida, you have have access to programs that can help you reach your goal of homeownership.

In this guide, we will cover:

Florida first-time homebuyer programs

As a first-time homebuyer in the Sunshine State, you’ll find that the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (Florida Housing for short) is a great resource. Florida Housing offers a number of programs that can help you with mortgage financing, down payment assistance and tax credits.

In January 2019, we researched current information on first-time homebuyer programs in Florida, which included reviewing programs offered through Florida Housing. Here’s what first-time homebuyers in Florida need to know.

Eligibility for Florida Housing programs

Each Florida Housing program has its own set of requirements a borrower must meet to qualify. Yet, there are a few general eligibility requirements that apply to the state’s housing programs across the board.

General eligibility requirements include:

  • You are a first-time homebuyer OR
  • You are purchasing a home in a federally designated targeted area where at least 70% of households have an income 80% or less than the state median income, per the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development OR
  • You are a qualified veteran

AND

  • You have completed a Florida Housing homebuyer education class
  • You are able to qualify for a mortgage loan
  • Your FICO score is 640 or higher
  • Your property is located within the state of Florida
  • Your property is your primary residence

Note: You can check current mortgage rates for the state of Florida here.

Florida First and Military Heroes loan programs

Features

  • May be combined with a Florida Housing down payment and closing cost assistance program (see below)
  • Low, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage on an FHA, VA or USDA-RD loan
  • Reduced first mortgage interest rate with the Military Heroes loan (for qualifying veterans and active duty military personnel)
  • Recapture tax reimbursement available (see below)
  • Additional incentives for first-time homebuyers purchasing homes in federally designated target areas (areas struggling economically)

Eligibility

In addition to the general eligibility requirements above, you may need to satisfy the following for the Florida First and Military Heroes loan programs:

  • You may not exceed the income limit (determined by the size of your household and the county and area status — targeted versus non-targeted — where you intend to purchase a home)
  • The home does not exceed the maximum purchase price limit (varies by county and area type — targeted versus non-targeted)

How it works

Utilize the Homebuyer Loan Programs Wizard, available through FloridaHousing.org, for more general information about these two programs. From there, it is recommended you contact one of Florida Housing’s participating loan officers (you can find contact details once you’ve started the Homebuyer Loan Programs Wizard) for more information about eligibility and qualification requirements.

Florida HFA Preferred and HFA Preferred PLUS conventional loan programs

Features

  • Four separate conventional loan options available to eligible borrowers — FL HFA Preferred Conventional Loan Program for BOND, FL HFA Preferred Conventional Loan Program for TBA, FL HFA Preferred 3% PLUS Conventional Loan Program, FL HFA Preferred 4% PLUS Conventional Loan Program
  • Reduced mortgage insurance costs (compared with FHA loans)
  • May be combined with a Florida Housing down payment and closing cost assistance program or a non-repayable grant (see below)
  • Low, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage on a conventional (Fannie Mae-only) loan
  • Recapture tax reimbursement available (see below)
  • Additional incentives for first-time homebuyer purchasing homes in target areas

Eligibility

In addition to the general eligibility requirements above, borrowers may need to satisfy the following requirements for HFA Preferred and HFA Preferred PLUS conventional loan programs:

  • You may not exceed the income limit (determined by the size of your household and the county and area status — targeted versus non-targeted — where you intend to purchase a home)
  • Your household income — the income of all occupants over the age of 18 — may be considered to determine eligibility for a lower rate (FL HFA Preferred Conventional Loan Program for BOND only)
  • The home may not exceed the maximum purchase price limit (varies by county and area type — targeted versus non-targeted)

How it works

If you are interested in applying for one of the four conventional loan programs available through Florida Housing, you should once again start with the Homebuyer Loan Programs Wizard. For more details about qualification requirements and eligibility questions, you may contact one of Florida Housing’s participating loan officers.

HFA 3% Preferred PLUS Grant

Features

  • Down payment and closing cost assistance in the form of a grant
  • Eligible borrowers receive 3% of the purchase price of the home
  • Non-repayable grant
  • Grant funds provided at closing

Eligibility

  • You must meet all general eligibility requirements above
  • Only available with an FL HFA Preferred PLUS loan
  • You must be purchasing a home in an eligible Florida county
  • You must not exceed qualifying income limits (based upon household size)
  • Down payment assistance may not be used as a stand alone product; it is only available to eligible borrowers to be used with a Florida Housing first mortgage loan

How it works

For more information about this down payment and closing cost assistance grant, the Florida Housing website instructs you to contact an approved loan officer (featured in the Homebuyer Loan Programs Wizard).

Florida Assist (FL Assist)

Features

  • Down payment and closing cost assistance in the form of a second mortgage
  • Up to $7,500 available to qualified borrowers
  • 0% interest
  • Non-forgivable
  • Monthly payments deferred until sale, deed transfer, refinance, satisfaction of first mortgage or borrower no longer occupies the home as their primary residence

Eligibility

  • You must meet all general eligibility requirements above
  • You must qualify for a Florida Housing first mortgage loan
  • You must be purchasing a home in an eligible Florida county
  • Down payment assistance may not be used as a stand alone product; it is only available to eligible borrowers to be used with a Florida Housing first mortgage loan

How it works

Contact one of Florida Housing’s participating loan officers to determine eligibility for a homebuyer program. If eligible, ask your loan officer about the down payment and closing cost assistance programs that may work best with your chosen loan program.

Florida Homeownership Loan Program (FL HLP) Second Mortgage

Features

  • Down payment and closing cost assistance in the form of a second mortgage
  • Up to $10,000 available to qualified borrowers
  • 3% interest
  • Non-forgivable
  • 15-year term
  • Fully amortizing second mortgage
  • Carries a monthly payment that may be considered in borrower’s debt-to-income (DTI) ratio during credit underwriting
  • Unpaid balance due when first mortgage is satisfied, refinanced or when borrower no longer occupies the home as their primary residence

Eligibility

  • Must meet all general eligibility requirements above
  • Must qualify for a Florida Housing first mortgage loan
  • Must be purchasing a home in an eligible Florida county
  • Down payment assistance may not be used as a stand alone product; it is only available to eligible borrowers to be used with a Florida Housing first mortgage loan

How it works

Per the Florida Housing website, you should contact an approved loan officer to determine which second mortgage program is right for you and if you qualify.

Mortgage credit certificate (MCC)

Features

  • Offers eligible homebuyers a nonrefundable federal income tax credit (to be utilized with a lender’s first mortgage loan)
  • Tax credit amount currently ranges from 10% to 30%, based upon loan amount
  • Federal tax credit can be applied annually against borrower’s federal tax liability
  • May reduce the amount of federal taxes owed each year the home is occupied by borrower(s) as a primary residence

Eligibility

  • Must be used with a participating lender’s first mortgage loan or combined with a Florida Housing’s conventional loan program
  • Income and purchase price limits vary by county and household size
  • A $2,000 cap applies for any credit that exceeds 20%

How it works

Per the Florida Housing website, participating lenders should be able to help determine if you qualify for the tax credit and assist with any questions you may have regarding the program.

National first-time homebuyer programs

Florida offers some great programs to help borrowers in the Sunshine State achieve the dream of homeownership. In addition to these state programs, there are national first-time homebuyer programs — including from the FHA, VA, USDA, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac —  that could potentially help you, too.

Want to learn more about federal first-time homebuyer programs? Check out this guide from LendingTree to get started.

 


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