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2022 Florida First-Time Homebuyer Programs  

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Florida offers first-time homebuyers a number of programs to help them make the leap into homeownership. To qualify for these programs, which can offer assistance with your down payment and closing costs, you may need to meet income limits and have a credit score of at least 640. In this article, we’ll go over the types of assistance available and how you can qualify.

Florida statewide and local first-time homebuyer programs

Florida first-time homebuyers will find a number of programs that can help them afford their first house through the Florida Housing Finance Corp. (also referred to as Florida Housing). Programs include fixed-rate loans and down payment or closing cost assistance.

Program nameAssistance amountAssistance typeWhere it’s available
Florida AssistUp to $10,000 on government loans, or $7,500 on conventional loansDown payment assistance as a 0% deferred loanStatewide
Florida Homeownership Loan Program$10,000Down payment assistance as a 15-year, 3% loanStatewide
HFA Preferred and HFA Advantage PLUSUp to 5% of mortgage amountDown payment assistance as a forgivable second mortgageStatewide
Salute our Soldiers PLUSUp to 5% of mortgage amountDown payment assistance as a forgivable second mortgageStatewide

What to know about different types of down payment assistance

Most mortgage programs for first-time homebuyers require you to put money down to buy a home, often 3% or 3.5% at a minimum. Down payment assistance can help you cover this cost if you don’t have much money saved up. Down payment assistance typically comes in one of a few different forms.

  • Grant. Grants may be offered at a certain percentage of the mortgage amount. This money does not need to be repaid.
  • Second mortgage. Unlike a grant, a second mortgage typically does need to be repaid. Generally, second mortgages for down payment assistance have interest rates and terms set by the organization issuing them and are paid back with monthly payments.
  • Deferred loan. Also known as “soft seconds,” deferred loans can include down payment assistance loans that do not need to be paid back until the homeowner sells the property or refinances.
  • Forgivable loan. Some deferred loans, including second mortgage loans, may also be forgivable. This means that the loan amount is written off over time until you no longer have to repay the loan.

How Florida first-time homebuyer programs work

To qualify for Florida’s first-time homebuyer programs, you’ll need to take out a first mortgage through Florida Housing’s Homebuyer Program. These loans are made by lenders across the state that choose to take part in the program. Here is a quick guide to applying.

1. Determine if you qualify. Florida Housing’s online wizard can help you figure out if you are eligible for its loan program based on your income and household size. To use it, you’ll need to input the number of people living in your home and the county in which you’d like to buy a house.

2. Find an approved lender. The Florida Housing website can also help you find a lender that takes part in the Homebuyer Program. The lender you choose can help you determine the home price range you can afford and can prequalify you for a mortgage. You may consider shopping around and contacting a few different lenders to find the best deal.

3. Get educated. Florida’s programs require you to take a homebuyer education course. Your lender will be able to provide you with a list of approved options.

4. Choose a real estate agent. Florida Housing also has a list of certified real estate agents who are experienced with its programs and can help you find and buy the right house. Your agent will guide you through the process of making offers and scheduling inspections.

5. Decide on down payment assistance. With a Florida Homebuyer Program loan, you may opt for one of the state’s down payment assistance programs. These are second mortgages that help you cover the cost of your down payment and closing costs. Keep in mind, for some of these programs you may need to repay these loans in full, while others are forgivable loans as long as you meet terms such as staying in the home for a specified period of time.

6. Finalize your loan. Once you have a contract to buy a home, your lender will give you instructions on the documentation you need to finalize the mortgage. The lender will order an appraisal of the home to determine its value. You’ll also need to find homeowners insurance and arrange for utility accounts at the new home.

7. Close on the mortgage. At closing, you’ll sign all the paperwork and then get the keys to your new home.

Florida first-time homebuyer program requirements

Florida Housing offers a variety of first-time homebuyer programs, including down payment assistance loans you won’t need to pay back until you sell your home, or that are entirely forgivable over a period of time. You will need to meet certain eligibility requirements, including a minimum credit score and a maximum debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.

Program name Credit score minimumDTI ratio maximumMaximum income limitHow long you have to live in the home
Florida Assist640Maximum set by lender in most casesVaries by family size and countyN/A
Florida Homeownership Loan Program640Maximum set by lender in most casesVaries by family size and countyN/A – loan paid off over 15-year term
HFA Preferred and HFA Advantage PLUS64050%Varies by family size and countyFive years for full loan forgiveness
Salute our Soldiers PLUS640Maximum set by lender in most casesVaries by family size and countyFive years for full loan forgiveness


To qualify for Florida’s first-time homebuyer programs, you’ll likely need to meet income limits. These limits are typically based on the median income in the area in which you live. You can look up the median income in your area using the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) median income family lookup tool. For Florida’s programs, you can also find the limit you must fall under using Florida Housing’s wizard tool.

National first-time homebuyer programs

First-time homebuyer programs are often based on a traditional loan program accessible to all buyers. You’ll usually need to qualify for one of the below loans, in addition to meeting the criteria set by Florida Housing for the assistance you’re seeking.

Conventional loans. Conventional loans don’t fall into a government loan category. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac each offer a first-time homebuyer conventional loan that offers a 3% down payment and can be used in conjunction with a Florida first-time homebuyer down payment assistance program.

FHA loans. FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and offer borrowers down payments as low as 3.5% with a credit score of 580 or higher, or 10% with a credit score of 500 or higher. The eligibility criteria are more lenient than those of other loan programs, making an FHA loan potentially a good option for first-time buyers.

VA loans. Military service members and veterans may be eligible for a VA loan through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These loans do not require a down payment in most cases and have no required minimum credit score.

USDA loans. These loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and are geared toward low- and middle-income families. They also do not generally require a down payment. USDA loans have their own income limits to qualify, and your home will need to be in a rural area.

FAQs about Florida’s first-time homebuyer programs

Who qualifies as a first-time homebuyer in Florida?

A first-time homebuyer is someone who has not owned a home in the previous three years. You may also be able to qualify if you’ve only owned a home with a former spouse, or if you owned a mobile home.

Can I qualify for down payment assistance in Florida?

To qualify for assistance, you generally must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a first-time homebuyer
  • Have a credit score of at least 640
  • Take a homebuyer education course
  • Qualify for a loan with a participating lender
  • Fall below income limits in your area

How much of a down payment do I need to buy a house in Florida?

Down payments vary depending on the loan program you choose. With conventional loans, you often only need to put 3% down. With an FHA loan, you’ll need to put at least 3.5% down. Through Florida’s first-time homebuyer assistance programs, you may be able to get a second loan to cover this down payment. You may not be required to pay back this second loan until you sell or refinance your home, or it may be forgiven a chunk at a time as you continue to live in the home.

Home price trends in Florida’s major areas

Higher home prices translate into larger mortgages and higher monthly payments. In most of the state of Florida, the median home price falls between $150,000 and $300,000, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. However, in counties in the Miami area, prices are significantly higher — reaching a high of $661,995 in Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys. That’s up 10.4% year over year and translates to a monthly mortgage payment of $2,474 in the second quarter of 2021 as compared to $2,307 in the second quarter of 2020.

In most parts of the state, prices have risen 10% or more over the past year. In Miami-Dade County, the median home price is $380,443. This translates to a monthly mortgage payment of $1,444, up from $1,347. In Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale, the median home price is $345,795, which translates to a monthly mortgage payment of $1,312, up from $1,224 year over year.


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