Every single state across the US makes available a variety of homeownership assistance programs for first time home buyers. Florida is no exception. Since property prices are rebounding due to high demand and low levels of housing inventory in the Sunshine State, finding a program that can improve the chances of purchasing and closing on a home is of the utmost importance. To inform potential property buyers of the loan options available to them in Florida, our experts have compiled a complete list of grants and programs along with eligibility criteria.
Florida First Time Home Buyer Programs
- Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Loan Program – FHA mortgages are insured by the FHA to protect lenders from losses in an event of default. A FHA loan includes the following benefits: a minimum credit score of 500 (a down payment of at least 10 percent is required for credit scores between 500 and 579); a down payment of just 3.5 percent for borrowers with credit scores above 580; and low private mortgage insurance (PMI), comprising a one-time, upfront premium of 1.75 percent of the amount borrowed and an annual premium that varies based on the loan amount, repayment period, and initial loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. Currently, the lending limit for FHA loans in Florida ranges from $271,050 to $1,017,300. Though there are no income limits for these loans, the debt-to-income ratio mustn’t exceed 43 percent.
- Veterans Affairs (VA) Loan Program – Guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and made by private lenders, VA loans are available to active-duty military personnel, National Guard Members, reservists, and veterans. Some of the benefits of VA loans are: no down payment, no mortgage insurance, limited closing costs, no pre-payment penalties, negotiable interest rates, and VA assistance to borrowers experiencing temporary financial difficulties. In Florida, loan limits range from $417,000 to 801,950. The minimum credit score required is 620.
- First Time Homebuyer Program – This program is available through numerous lending institutions that have partnered with Florida Housing Finance Corporation. The program offers 30-year fixed-rate loans to make purchasing a home more affordable for Florida first time home buyers with low-to-moderate income. To qualify, applicants must have a credit score of at least 640 and meet the program’s income limit. For instance, the maximum annual income limit to buy a home in Jacksonville, FL, through this program ranges from $56,600 to $65,090, depending on the targeted area and number of persons per household; the sales price limit is $200,000. The First Time Homebuyer Program also provides $14,999 in down payment and closing cost assistance.
- USDA Rural Housing Loan Program – Developed to provide affordable homeownership opportunities across Florida and Georgia, the USDA Rural Housing Loan Program offers 30-year fixed-rate loans that bring a series of advantages as follows: no down payment; no upfront closing costs (closing costs can be rolled into the loan); no loan amount limits; no pre-payment penalties; alternative ways to prove credit worthiness for applicants without active lines of credit (borrowers with active lines of credit should have a minimum score of 620); reduced PMI (only 0.50 percent of the loan amount); and a one-time, upfront guarantee of 2 percent, which can also be rolled into the mortgage.
- Home Possible Neighborhood Solution Mortgage – This program allows specific categories of borrowers, such as military personnel, law enforcement officers, firefighters, health care workers, and teachers, to buy a home in the communities they serve. The program provides 30-year fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages, and requires: a minimum down payment of 5 percent of the property value; a credit score of 680 (the minimum credit score accepted is 620 for LTV ratios below 80 percent); and Homeownership Education Certification that meets the requirements of the National Industry Standards for Homeownership Education and Counseling. There are no income caps for properties located in designated areas. The maximum loan limit ranges between $417,000 and $801,950.
- State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Program – Administered by Florida Housing Finance Corporation, the SHIP program provides low- and moderate-income individuals and families with financial assistance to fund new construction, emergency repairs, down payments and closing costs on property, etc. Since the program is established by ordinance in each county and eligibility criteria may change over time, Florida first time home buyers should contact the local SHIP administrator to find out if they qualify.
- Florida Housing Mortgage Credit Certificate Program – With this program, Florida first time home buyers can claim up to 50 percent of the paid interest (limited at $2,000 per year) as a tax credit on the IRS tax return. Remaining paid interest can be claimed in the form of a tax deduction on the same federal tax return. Income and purchase price limits in Florida range from $57,700 to $122,220 and from $265,158 to $632,500, respectively, depending on the location and number of persons in the household.
In addition to the aforementioned loan options, Florida first time home buyers can access Good Neighborhood Next Door Sales Programs managed by the Federal Housing Administration.
To find out more about the grants and programs available to Florida first time home buyers, contact our friendly advisors at (904)-389-4635 or visit our contact page.
*Amounts and information for programs are subject to change. Contact us for the latest up-to-date information, as these are provided by the government.