Florida First-Time Homebuyer Loan Programs

Florida offers its first-time home-buyer programs through an organization called Florida Housing, which was created by Florida’s state government. One of the primary ways Florida Housing assists first-time buyers is through its mortgage program, which makes it easier for new homeowners to get a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. The program works with conventional, FHA, VA, USDA and HFA mortgages.

To qualify, you’ll need to apply for a mortgage with one of Florida Housing’s approved lenders and have a credit score of at least 640. You’ll also need to complete an approved home-buyer education course and not exceed the program’s income and purchase price limits, which vary by county.

Florida Down Payment Assistance Programs

On top of its mortgage programs, Florida Housing offers a few major down payment assistance programs specifically designed for first-time home buyers. These programs, which take the form of either a second mortgage or a grant, must be paired with a mortgage from the Florida Housing program.

Florida’s primary down-payment assistance programs are the Florida Assist Second Mortgage Program, the Florida Homeownership Loan Program, and two HFA grant-based programs.

Florida Assist Second Mortgage Program

Also known as FL Assist, this program offers first-time home buyers down payment assistance in the form of a 0% interest deferred loan, which means you won’t have to make payments on your down payment assistance until you pay off your primary mortgage. You can borrow up to $10,000 on conventional, VA, FHA or USDA loans.

Florida Homeownership Loan Program

This one’s got an acronym too: FL HLP. It’s a program that offers first-time buyers a $10,000 loan for their down payment, and it can be paired with FL Assist. But unlike FL Assist, FL HLP loans carry a 3% interest rate andmonthly payments.

HFA Preferred and HFA Advantage Plus

Unlike the other two programs, HFA Preferred and HFA Advantage Plus provide down payment assistance in the form of a forgivable grant rather than a loan. That means, under most circumstances, home buyers who use this program don’t have to pay that money back, which can be 3–5% of the home’s value.

But as you probably guessed, there’s a catch: Only 20% of the grant is forgiven each year, meaning it won’t be completely forgiven for five years. And if you decide to sell or refinance, or if you pay off your mortgage before those five years are up, you’ll have to pay back whatever balance hasn’t already been forgiven.

Because this program takes the form of a grant rather than a loan, it’s only available to approved buyers with low or moderate incomes.


Other First-Time Home-Buyer Programs in Florida

Florida Housing also offers two other first-time home-buyer programs designed for buyers in specific lines of work.

Salute Our Soldiers Military Loan Program

Available to active-duty servicemembers and most veterans, the Salute Our Soldiers Military Loan Program provides discounted rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. It can also be paired with any of Florida Housing’s down payment assistance programs.

Hometown Heroes

Hometown Heroes is a down-payment assistance program from Florida Housing, and it’s very similar to FL Assist. Like FL Assist, the Hometown Heroes program offers buyers down-payment assistance as a 30-year deferred second mortgage with 0% interest.

The difference between FL Assist and Hometown Heroes is that Hometown Heroes was specifically designed for Floridians who serve the community in their full-time jobs. The list of eligible occupations includes licensed K–12 teachers, firefighters, police officers and other frontline workers.

Hometown Heroes also offers larger loans than FL Assist—5% of the home’s total value, up to $25,000.