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Updated on Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Florida has lots to offer its residents — from sandy beaches and warm weather to year-round outdoor amusement parks and some of the best stone crabs around.If you’re looking to buy your first home in the Sunshine State, you may be able to get some financial assistance. There are different programs, with various qualification criteria, dedicated to helping new homebuyers with anything from the down payment to lower interest rates.
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But Florida doesn’t just offer financial assistance with mortgage loans. There are other programs, such as counseling services, that can help with homebuying, refinancing and everything else you may face when purchasing a home.
Florida first-time homebuyer programs
The Florida Housing Finance Corp. manages first-time homebuyer programs in the state. The agency dates back to 35 years of working with Florida’s government officials to provide local residents financial assistance to afford their new home. Florida Housing Finance Corp. ensures each borrower is matched with a specific program that’s ideal for their individual financial needs and background. Some of the programs offered can include a Homebuyer Loan program and Down Payment Assistance program, among others.
Eligibility for Florida assistance
Those looking to buy in Florida who want to apply for financial assistance from one of these programs may come across varying eligibility requirements. Each one of these homebuyer assistance programs offered in Florida may have its own specific requirements, but most will look at a person’s credit score, along with income level and purchase-price limits. Borrowers may also be required to take a homebuyer education course. Continue reading for more details on each program and its requirements.
Florida Housing Finance Corp.
Florida Housing Finance Corp. offers various programs ideal for first-time homebuyers who need assistance to buy their new home. This agency has programs that can help financially in many ways, including providing lower interest rates on home loans to make for easier payments.
More information about these programs is provided below. However, if you want more in-depth details, you will need to contact the Florida Housing Finance Corp.
Florida Homebuyer Loan Program
The Florida Homebuyer Loan Program offers a 30-year fixed rate on a borrower’s first mortgage loan. Assistance can also be provided with a second mortgage or a grant that can help with the cost of the down payment or closing costs. In order to qualify, borrowers must have already qualified for a home loan, have a credit score of 640 or higher and must have completed a homebuyer education class. Income level and purchase-price limits may also be taken into consideration for qualification.
Mortgage Credit Certificate Program
The Mortgage Credit Certificate Program offers financial assistance toward a first mortgage by providing a federal income tax credit that is based on the borrower’s loan amount (usually a credit of 10% to 30%). This can help reduce the borrower’s tax liability each year to help pay for the monthly mortgage payments. Borrowers must be first-time homebuyers to qualify for this certificate program. A borrower’s income and the property’s purchase price may also be looked at in order to determine eligibility.
Down Payment Assistance Program
The Florida Housing Finance Corp. offers programs geared toward down payment and closing cost assistance. These programs are offered as a second mortgage loan to those who qualify. But keep in mind, in order to receive down payment assistance, borrowers must also have a first mortgage with the Florida Housing Finance Corp.
The Florida Assist (FL Assist) program is an additional down payment assistance program offered by the Florida Housing Finance Corp. Depending on the county you want to live in in Florida, you may be eligible to receive up to $7,500 in down payment assistance and a 0%-interest second mortgage with deferred payments. You will not need to start making payments unless certain circumstances should arise, such as choosing to sell or refinance the home down the road.
As for grants, the agency offers its HFA Preferred Grant, which provides borrowers 3% of the purchase price of the home a person wants to buy. This does not need to be repaid.
How it works
First-time homebuyers who are interested in applying for one of these programs offered by the Florida Housing Finance Corp. can contact an approved lender found on the agency’s website. To find a lender, simply choose your household size and preferred county from the dropdown bars at the bottom of the agency’s webpage. From there, you will get a list of approved lenders that you can click on to learn more about the programs offered and how to contact a specific loan specialist.
A loan specialist from an approved lender should be able to explain the application process while going over requirements, and can get you started with your application while answering any questions you may have along the way.
National first-time homebuyer programs
As outlined here, Florida has its own first-time homebuyer assistance programs that can help lighten the financial burden of purchasing a new home. But these statewide programs are not the only ones that can help. There are many other programs available to you nationwide that can provide financial assistance to purchase your first home, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Housing Service, which offers loans and grants for borrowers looking to buy properties in rural areas. Habitat for Humanity, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans are also options for homebuyer programs that can be found across the country. To learn more, head over to LendingTree’s easy-to-follow guide to first-time home buyer programs.