Florida has always attracted those who crave sunshine, beachfront property, and low taxes. If you’re planning to purchase a home in the state, you should know that there are plenty of programs to help first-time homebuyers afford a home.
First-time homebuyers can take advantage of national programs, including loans and grants offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These programs enable homebuyers to put little to no money down, and assist with down payments and closing costs. In addition to federal programs, there are many statewide resources to consider. Here are just a few offerings for first-time homebuyers in Florida:
Programs for First-Time Homebuyers in Florida
If you’re a first-time homebuyer—defined as anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the past three or more years—you might be eligible for a first-time homebuyer program.
One of the primary organizations offering programs to homebuyers in the state is the Florida Housing Finance Corp., also known as Florida Housing, which provides resources and programs for low- to moderate-income Floridians. Florida Housing has been working to increase affordable housing opportunities in the state for 40 years, in part through home loan programs, down payment assistance, and mortgage credit certificates. Here is some more information about available programs in Florida:
1. Florida HFA Preferred Conventional Loan
The HFA Preferred Conventional Loan is a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage available to first-time homebuyers in Florida. With an HFA Preferred Conventional Loan, borrowers can put as little as 3 percent down and enjoy reduced mortgage insurance costs. For example, you would only need personal mortgage insurance (PMI) that covers 18 percent of the home value, rather than the typical 35 percent. Less expensive mortgage insurance can save homeowners thousands of dollars over the life of their home loan. The HFA loan can also be combined with down payment and closing costs assistance. Prospective buyers must apply for the loan with a participating lender.
2. Florida HFA Preferred 3% Plus Conventional Loan
This loan offers the same benefits as an HFA Preferred Conventional Loan, plus a grant for 3 percent of the home’s purchase price to help with down payment and closing costs. Because it’s a grant, that money does not need to be repaid.
3. Florida First and Military Heroes Government Loan Programs
These programs are for veterans and active-duty military, but you don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer to qualify. Both offer 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages for loans backed by the government, such as FHA, VA, and USDA loans. The loans provide low-interest mortgages and can be combined with down payment and closing cost assistance programs.
4. HFA Preferred Grant
The HFA Preferred Grant provides a grant of 3-4 percent of the home purchase price. Because it’s a grant, it doesn’t have to be repaid. The grant must be used with a Florida Housing loan.
5. Florida Mortgage Credit Certificate Program (MCC)
The Florida MCC Program allows homebuyers to claim 10-50 percent of the mortgage interest they pay each year, up to $2,000 for every year they live in the home. This credit indirectly helps Florida homeowners save money they can then direct toward mortgage payments and other expenses. The credit must be used in tandem with a Florida Housing loan program.
How to Qualify for a Florida Loan Program
If you’re interested in applying for a first-time homebuyer program in Florida, you should know that there are some qualification requirements. Make sure you have all the following prerequisites:
- You’re at or below the income limit in your county: Florida Housing loans are meant for low-to-moderate income Floridians. The income limits for the programs vary by county, so check whether you qualify here.
- You have a credit score of 620 or higher.
- The home will be your primary residence.
- The home is located in Florida.
- You have completed or plan to complete an approved homebuyer education course.
If you meet all of the above, the next step is to find a participating lender like radius financial group, get prequalified for a mortgage loan, and determine which program is best for you.
Get Started on the Path to Homeownership
Beginning the homebuying process for the first time can be overwhelming when you have little to no past experience to draw on. In order to avoid any major missteps, it can help to seek out the advice of those who have been through the process countless times. Check out our mortgage prequalification preparedness guide for help navigating the first-time home-buying process.