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Florida First-Time Home Buyer Programs of 2018

July 30, 2018
Finding the Right Mortgage, Mortgages
Florida First-Time Home Buyer Programs of 2018
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Homeownership can feel out of reach, especially if you’ve never purchased a home and aren’t sure whether you’ll qualify for a mortgage. That’s why the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, known as Florida Housing, offers several programs to help Floridians buy a first home. But the good news doesn’t stop there.

National mortgage programs can also help you overcome obstacles to homeownership, especially if you have a low credit score or aren’t able to save a big down payment. Learn more about all of your options for buying a home in the Sunshine State below.

National first-time home buyer programs to consider

Conventional mortgage

National program

Best for

Low down payments

Limited mortgage insurance premiums

What you need to know

A conventional mortgage is a home loan that isn’t guaranteed or insured by the federal government. Conventional mortgages that conform to the requirements set forth by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac allow down payments as low as 3% for first-time buyers or lower-income home buyers. Unlike FHA loans,

 

FHA loans

National program

Best for

Low credit score

Low down payment

What you need to know

This is the go-to program for many first-time home buyers with lower credit scores. The Federal Housing Administration allows down payments as low as 3.5% for those with credit scores of 580 or higher. The FHA will insure loans for borrowers with scores as low as 500 but requires a 10% down payment

 

VA loans

National program

Best for

Military

Low down payment

What you need to know

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs helps service members, veterans and surviving spouses buy homes. VA loans are especially generous, providing competitive interest rates, often requiring no down payment or mortgage insurance. Although there is no official minimum credit score, most

 

USDA loans

National program

Best for

Low down payment

Rural

What you need to know

A USDA home loan is a zero-down-payment mortgage for eligible rural and suburban home buyers. USDA loans are issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan Program. There are income limitations, which vary by region. Applicants with credit

Florida Housing first-time home buyer loan programs

If you’re a first-time home buyer — typically someone who hasn’t owned a home in the past three years — Florida Housing programs may provide an affordable path to owning a home. Qualified veterans and anyone considering a home purchase in one of Florida’s federally designated target areas may also be able to take advantage of the programs. Designated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a targeted area is a neighborhood, street or block where at least 70% of households earn 80% or less of the state median income.

Florida Housing highlights and eligibility

Highlights

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages for first-time home buyers, veterans and active military
  • Available in all 67 of Florida’s counties
  • Can be combined with down payment or closing cost assistance programs
  • Mortgage interest tax credit available

Eligibility

» MORE: 25 tips for first-time home buyers

Military Heroes Government Loan Program

State program

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at NerdWallet

Best for

Military

Low interest rates

Down payment assistance

Closing cost assistance

What you need to know

This program also provides 30-year fixed-rate FHA, VA and USDA loans to all qualified veterans and active-duty military personnel, even those who may have recently owned homes. In fact, the Military Heroes loan offers lower interest rates than the Florida First mortgage. Borrowers who qualify for

 

Florida HFA Preferred Conventional Loan

State program

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Best for

Low mortgage insurance

What you need to know

By giving borrowers access to more affordable mortgage insurance, this 30-year fixed-rate loan offsets some of the initial costs that may put conventional loans out of reach for first-time buyers. Those who qualify for an HFA Preferred loan can benefit even more by combining their loan with down

 

Florida HFA Preferred 3% Plus Conventional Loan

State program

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Best for

Low mortgage insurance

Low down payment

What you need to know

In addition to getting reduced mortgage insurance costs, borrowers who qualify for this 30-year fixed-rate loan can take advantage of Florida Housing’s 3% down payment and closing cost grant, which doesn’t have to be repaid.

 

Florida Assist Second Mortgage

State program

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Best for

Low down payment

What you need to know

This assistance program allows qualified applicants to borrow up to $7,500 for their down payment. The Florida Assist second mortgage is offered at 0% interest, and payments are deferred, meaning the loan doesn’t have to be repaid until you move out, sell the house, refinance or pay off the original

 

HFA Preferred Grant

State program

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Best for

Down payment assistance

Closing cost assistance

What you need to know

This assistance program provides qualified borrowers with 3% of the home’s purchase price to be used as a down payment or to pay closing costs. The HFA Preferred program is a grant, which means it doesn’t have to be repaid.

 

Florida Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) Program

State program

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Best for

Tax credits

What you need to know

Using this program may deliver additional savings to qualified first-time home buyers and eligible veterans in the form of a credit on their federal taxes. Participants can claim 50% of their paid mortgage interest, up to $2,000, every year they occupy the home.

 

Your next step

Now that you’ve been introduced to the first-time home buyer programs available in Florida, it’s time to decide which one is the best fit for you. For full details and tips on how to apply, visit the Florida Housing Finance Corporation website.

Florida Housing doesn’t actually approve applications or lend money; instead, it relies on a network of participating lenders. These lenders may have their own rules about income limits, credit scores and eligible properties. If you’re unsure about which program is best suited to your situation, reach out directly to a lender for more information.

» MORE: See the best Florida mortgage lenders

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