Search results for: fl first time buyer

Florida First-Time Homebuyers Taking Advantage of Tax Credit

Some homebuyers in the state of Florida may be eligible for a tax credit of up to $2,000 each year on their mortgages, but many first-time homebuyers don’t know about the program. The Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) program was established by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation to reduce eligible borrowers’ federal income taxes. The program was originally launched in 2005 but was suspended until 2013 because of the housing crisis.

How it works

Homeowners who have the credit are allowed to use half of their annual mortgage interest (up to $2,000) as a direct federal tax credit. The rest of their mortgage interest will still continue to qualify as a tax deduction for federal income tax purposes.

As an example, consider a borrower with a $100,000 mortgage at 5 percent interest for 30 years. That borrower would pay approximately $5,000 in mortgage interest in the first year of the loan. But with an MCC, the borrower gets a tax credit of $2,000. 50% of $5,000 is $2,500, but the maximum allowance is $2,000. So the homeowner gets to subtract $2,000 from his or her taxable income. In addition, the remaining $3,000 of mortgage interest can be deducted.

The program is good for the life of the mortgage, which could amount to 30 years of tax credits. The program offers another advantage: eligible borrowers can use that extra “income” as part of their loan qualification. That could help those buyers qualify for a higher mortgage.

Find out more

The eligibility requirements vary from county to county in Florida, and also by the number of persons in the household. The maximum purchase prices for a new home under the program also vary by county, and whether an area is “targeted” or “non-targeted.” Targeted areas are based on household incomes in a specific area. While this may seem confusing, the Florida mortgage experts at Embrace Loans can help you determine your first-time homebuyer eligibility and how the MCC can help you with your existing mortgage or with buying a new home. Contact us today at 407-733-6425.

Florida First-Time Home Buyers Can Get Great Deals

Low- to moderate-income individuals and families often have a hard time buying a home. Down payments and closing costs can often be almost insurmountable obstacles. However, the state of Florida offers a variety of programs that make it easier to buy a home. If you’re eligible for these programs, you may be able to get down payment and closing cost assistance for a fixed, low-interest-rate mortgage loan for those first time home buyers out there. In addition, your county or even city government might also have programs for down payment and closing cost assistance.

What’s Out There?

Florida’s State Legislature created the Florida Housing Finance Corporation more than 30 years ago to help provide affordable housing opportunities for Florida residents. Florida Housing provides a wide variety of services, including programs for housing developers, an affordable rental locator, and homeownership programs.

Florida Housing provides eligible borrowers with 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Qualified buyers will need to meet Florida Housing’s minimum credit score, and will need to complete a homebuyer education program. Fulfilling those requirements may allow you to take advantage of one of Florida Housing’s first mortgage programs.

The Florida First Government Loan Program. If you satisfy this program’s credit, income, and purchase price requirements, you may be able to qualify for a Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Veteran’s Administration (VA), or US Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA RD) government 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. If you do qualify, you will automatically qualify for down payment assistance with Florida Housing’s Florida Assist second mortgage program. Florida Assist provides assistance with down payment and closing costs in the form of a deferred second mortgage with no interest, that doesn’t have to be repaid until the first mortgage is paid off, or the borrower sells or refinances the home.

The Military Heroes Government Loan Program. Veterans and active duty military personnel who satisfy the credit, income, and purchase price requirements may be able to take advantage of this mortgage, which offers lower interest rates than the Florida First loan program. Veterans also do not need to be first-time homebuyers to qualify. The loan program also offers FHA, VA, and USDA RD 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages, and approved borrowers automatically qualify for down payment assistance through a Florida Assist second mortgage.

The Florida HFA Preferred Conventional Loan Program. Housing finance agency (HFA) loans were developed by the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae). These are conventional loans, meaning they aren’t backed by any federal agency. Again, approved borrowers will automatically qualify for down payment assistance through a Florida Assist second mortgage.

Other programs

In addition to these state programs, your county or city may offer first-time buyer assistance programs. For example, the Brevard County Housing Finance Authority offers a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage program that also provides a second mortgage for up to $10,000 of assistance with down payments and closing costs. Borrowers may also receive a mortgage credit certificate (MCC) of up to $2,000 per year for the life of the loan, which allows them to deduct 50 percent of their annual mortgage interest as a tax credit, while the other 50 percent remains a deduction. Almost every county in Florida, and some cities, have programs like these.

Talk to an expert

To find out what mortgage options are available to you as a first time homebuyer, consult the experts at Embrace Home Loans. We’ve worked extensively with all these programs, and can guide you through the available options in your area. For more information call us today at 800-620-6292.

Florida First Time Home Buyers

Buying your first home can be confusing and expensive. Down payments, mortgage payments, mortgage insurance, closing costs–these can be daunting hurdles to overcome. However, the federal government and many states, including Florida, offer insured home mortgages that are designed to help Florida first time home buyers purchase the home of their dreams.

The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) defines a first time home buyer as someone who hasn’t owned a home in three years. The FHA insures loans to first time home buyers, and those loans can offer lower down payments, lower interest rates, and limits on costly fees. It’s all designed to help people with low to moderate incomes purchase houses.

Who Can Qualify?

It’s important to remember that the FHA is only insuring the mortgage loans. The loans are made by mortgage lenders, and buyers have to qualify for them. Qualifying usually requires:

  • Income. Your income determines how much mortgage lenders will loan you, and that determines how much you can spend on your new home. In general, no more than 43 percent of your monthly gross income can go toward the minimum payments on any credit debt. Exceptions can be made for higher debt ratios with compensating factors.
  • Savings. Home buyers will need enough money to make a down payment and pay any closing costs, like title fees and the cost of a home inspection. If you haven’t started saving, begin now. For FHA loans, the normal minimum down payment amount is 3.5 percent of the sales price of the home you want to buy. However, this varies based on the specific mortgage lender and other circumstances. Of course, the larger your down payment, the lower your monthly payments will be.
  • Credit. A solid credit history is important. While perfect credit may not be required, Florida first time home buyers with better scores get lower interest rates. Keep your credit card balances low, pay them promptly, and monitor your credit by checking it with one of the major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union). You can request a free report each year at Annual Credit If you find problems or inaccurate information, dispute it.

Other Considerations

FHA loans require mortgage insurance, unless you obtain a conventional mortgage loan, and are able to make a down payment of at least 20 percent of the sale price of the home. This private mortgage insurance (PMI) is added to your monthly mortgage payments. In addition, FHA loans require that you live in the home you purchase, and can’t be used for rental or investment property.

In addition to FHA loans, eligible borrowers may be able to take advantage of other programs available through the state of Florida, or even at the county or city level. These programs may offer down payment and/or closing cost assistance to make homeownership more affordable for low- and moderate-income borrowers.

Get My Perspective

Because first-time home buying can be a complex process, it’s important to talk to an expert to make sure you’re getting the best loans, rates, and terms for your situation. I’m Stephen Thaggard, and I have more than 17 years of experience in Florida mortgages. Contact me at 407-733-6425, and let me help you find a Florida first time home buyers program that works for you.


Stephen Thaggard, NMLS 356309,  Sr Loan Officer, licensed in Florida

Embrace Home Loans, NMLS 2184,, 485 N Keller Road, Suite 550, Maitland, FL 32751


Florida First Time Home Buyer down payment options

FL first time home buyers typically seek low fixed rate mortgage loans that require little to no down payment.  Some home buyers haven’t been able to accumulate enough in savings or cannot obtain a gift from a family member to meet the usual 3.5% to 5% down payment requirements.  Others want to explore their options with FL mortgage loan programs that allow them to keep more of their earned savings for other future uses.  Whichever is the case, first time home buyers should consider and ask about some of the following mortgage loan details when speaking with a FL mortgage professional.  Buying your first home may be easier than you thought.

  • VA Home Loan – The first question I ask any first time buyer is whether they are a US Veteran.  If eligible, a fixed rate FL VA home loan provides no down payment, no monthly mortgage insurance, and Sellers can contribute up to 4% of the contract price towards the Veterans closing costs.  
  •  FHA Mortgage Loan – If buyers are not Veterans then the next step is prequalifying for a FL FHA loan.  This allows a low down payment of 3.5% and Sellers can contribute up to 6% of the contract price to cover closing costs and escrows for the first time buyer. 
  •  FL Housing Finance Corp – Whether seeking a VA home loan or an FHA loan as mentioned above, or even a conventional mortgage, many qualified first time buyers can take advantage the FL State Bond down payment and closing costs assistance of up to $10,000.  Check your local FL County program too as it may include up to $2,000 federal tax credit per year.  If you are in Brevard County for example, then ask about qualifying for the Brevard HFA loan program with your Brevard County mortgage professional
  • FL USDA Loan – Also called Rural Housing loan, this program can allow buyers to finance the closing costs and escrows.  Sellers can still contribute up to 6% of the contract to buyers’ costs and escrows, and there is no monthly private mortgage insurance.  Qualified buyers and eligible FL homes are only a phone call away.

    If you or someone you know is looking to purchase their first home here in Florida and neeeds the best in sound mortgage options or solutions; ask them to call us today at 800.333.3004 X3560.  Ask for me, Stephen Thaggard or email me directly.  You’ll be surprised at the options available.

Stephen Thaggard, NMLS 356309,  Sr Loan Officer, licensed in Florida

Embrace Home Loans, NMLS 2184,,  485 N Keller Road, Suite 550, Maitland, FL 32751

FL first time home buyers taking advantage with better options

First time home buyers here in Florida are usually focused on qualifying for the ever popular FHA home loan.  With all of  the recent changes for FHA home loans; it’s refreshing that many FL home buyers are now turning their eyes to the advantages of a conventional Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backed mortgage. 

Earlier this year, the private mortgage insurance for an FHA borrower increased to 1.35% of the loan amount; making qualifying a bit more difficult with slightly higher monthly payments.  This increased was dwarfed by the news that starting June 3rd, the monthly mortgage insurance paid on an FHA loan will remain in effect for the life of the loan (assuming the minimum down payment of 3.5%).   The amounts to thousands of dollars spent over the life of the loan.

More and more FL home buyers are not starting their home shopping or new FL home construction, until they compare an FHA approach with a conventional Fannie Mae loan.  With a down payment of  only 5%, the advantages with the conventional Fannie Mae option are clear.

  • Save thousands and begin with more equity. FHA charges 1.75% as a financed  upfront mortgage insurance
  • Enjoy lower payments. The mortgage insurance can be half as much than FHA for qualified buyers
  • Future reduction in payments.  The mortgage insurance can eventually be dropped with sufficient equity. 
  • Short on funds for down payment? Gifted funds from family members are acceptable

With good credit and credit scores it pays to look at all your options when seeking to purchase or build your first or next FL home.  Who knows? You could even qualify and enjoy all the benefits of a conventional Fannie Mae loan.

FL first time home buyers trust an old Boy Scout

Over the weekend Ron, a previous client of ours living in Brevard County, contacted us after searching online.  They were looking to refinance their current Florida mortgage to not only lower their interest rate, but to lower their remaining mortgage term. Lowering the term, as I have coached over the years, can save homeowners thousands of dollars in long term interest.   After speaking with him, I asked why he called on me, he could have called anyone.  He said, he and his wife trust me with all of their mortgage related needs.  Trust.  Wow.

As a former Boy Scout, I recall the first of the twelve scout laws; A Scout is Trustworthy.  After over 17 years and going, many Florida residents continue to depend on my services with respect to their home mortgage needs.  Whether refinancing under today’s very popular HARP 2.0 mortgage, buying a 2nd home or investment property or referring a friend looking to buy their first home; I remain truly grateful for the volume of home owners and home buyers that keep coming back for sound mortgage solutions simply because of trust.

You may not know me, but if you are looking to get answers about qualifying for any Florida mortgage program or have questions on the HARP 2.0 refinance loan; please call or text me at 407.733.6425 or ask for my mortgage perspective online.  I will provide 17 years of trusted Florida mortgage experience.  Thanks

Stephen Thaggard, NMLS 356309,  Sr Loan Officer, licensed in Florida,

Embrace Home Loans, NMLS 2184,  5500 Murrell Road Suite 201, Viera, FL 32940

Making mortgage sense for FL first time home buyers

Thinking about buying your first home in Florida ? Knowing the basics is the best first step towards homeownership. Consider the following three areas, as they could dramatically affect your FL mortgage program options and corresponding interest rate. These areas are credit history, stable income and savings.

  • When was the last time you reviewed your own credit report history? You should know already know where you stand by contacting all 3 credit bureaus, Experian, Transunion and Equifax. The Federal Trade Commission authorizes as the only source for your free annual credit report. A healthy credit history may improve your chances of obtaining favorable mortgage program options with lower interest rates.
  • Stability of income can make the difference when determining mortgage risk. Long term employment, or a history in the same line of work, may offset other issues regarding a mortgage approval. If you are self employed, a minimum 2 year history evidenced with 2 years of tax returns is a great start.
  • And finally, save your money. It is a pleasure to talk to many first time home buyers who took time to save while searching for their dream home. There are mortgage programs available with no down payment, but what about closing costs? Also, the more money you have saved, the better opportunity you have for a loan approval.

Be prepared for your exciting new home venture.  Home ownership can be wonderful. Just make sure you recognize that credit, stable income and savings play a big part of your overall FL mortgage financial success. When in doubt or have questions, feel free to call 407.733.6425 or email Stephen Thaggard.

Stephen Thaggard, NMLS 356309,  Sr Loan Officer, licensed in Florida,

Embrace Home Loans, NMLS 2184,  485 N Keller Road, Suite 550, Maitland, FL 32751

Challenges First-Time Home Buyers Face

First-time home buyers are on the rise. According to Realtor.com1, in August of 2015, 35 percent of buyers said they were first-time buyers. Jump forward to August 2016, and 51 percent of buyers identified themselves as first-time buyers. But buying a home and getting a Florida mortgage for the first time comes with a unique set of challenges. Here are some of the things first-time buyers in Florida will face:

  • Down payments: The biggest challenge faced by most first-time buyers is coming up with enough money for a down payment. For conventional mortgages, many first time buyers believe they need to come up with a 20% down payment. On a $200,000 house, that’s $40,000. However, if those same buyers pursued a mortgage that’s insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), they only need a down payment of 3.5 percent. On a $200,000 house, that’s $7,000. In fact, well qualified first time buyers can consider a Conventional loan with as little as 3% towards down payment.
  • Credit scores: Mortgage lenders depend on your credit score to determine who will get mortgage loans and what rate they’ll be charged. FICO scores range from the high 300s to the low 800s, and first-time buyers often don’t have long, established credit histories. That can mean a lower score. Lower credit score buyers should consider the credit flexible FHA loan approach and perhaps even compare it to a Conventional mortgage option, although conventional programs generally require stronger credit profiles and scores.
  • Employment history: Mortgage lenders prefer borrowers who have worked for the same employer for at least two years. This can be a problem for first-time buyers, who are still establishing their careers and may have changed jobs recently. Some first time buyers may qualify for an FHA with as little as 6 months with current employer.

Know your options

At Embrace Home Loans, we work with all kinds of borrowers in Florida, including first-time buyers. We can suggest strategies that will help you meet the first-time buyer challenges, including:

  • Low-down-payment mortgages or down payment assistance programs: In addition to FHA loans, which require a lower down payment, there are a number of down payment assistance programs available in Florida.
  • Financial organization: You can improve your FICO score by staying organized, paying your bills on time, and double-checking your credit for errors.
  • Steady income: While mortgage lenders like to see steady employment, many will overlook a short job history if you can show a steady source of income that will cover your mortgage payments.

Find out more

If you’re a first-time home buyer looking for your Florida mortgage, contact Embrace Home Loans at 407-733-6425. We’re experts in mortgage lending, and we can review your financial situation and help you find ways to improve your credit, locate a loan that’s right for you, and find a new home.


Top 5 Mistakes First-Time Homebuyers Make

Home buying is on the rise, according to the fourth annual Mortgage Service Index from TD Bank. According to the survey, 42 percent of Americans expect the housing market to improve over the next six months, and 56 percent feel it’s a good time to buy a home.

That means, if you’re shopping for a new home in Florida, there’s going to be more competition for the available homes. First-time homebuyers can help themselves clinch the deal by avoiding some common mistakes:

  • Choosing a home that’s too expensive. With the financial meltdown of 2008 still fresh in everyone’s mind, it’s surprising that people are buying the most expensive homes for which they can qualify. Qualification doesn’t tell you how much you should spend on a house, it just tells you how much the bank will lend you. Huge mortgage payments may leave you with no money left for bills or savings.
  • Not educating yourself. Learn about your market and the value of the homes in it. Make sure you also understand ALL the expenses involved, like insurance, taxes, utilities, association fees, and more (see mistake #1). Don’t make the mistake of buying the first home you see. Shop around.
  • Not getting your finances in order. Make sure you’ve got a budget and you know exactly what you can afford (see mistakes #1 and #2).
  • Not scouting the neighborhood. Things are much different at night than they are in the daylight. Visit your prospective neighborhood at different times of the day. Park your car and walk around. Are there noisy neighbors? Barking dogs? Cars roaring through residential streets? Do your homework, and make sure that this neighborhood is right for you.
  • Working with the seller’s agent. The seller’s agent is working for them, not you, and is trying to get the highest possible price on the home. In short, they’re not on your side. You need your own licensed Realtor® who is working for you.

Make the right move

While it seems to fly in the face of the advice above, one final mistake is falling victim to the “grass is always greener” mentality. Some home shoppers are convinced that there’s always something better, so they refuse to commit to buying a home. If you’ve done your homework, then trust yourself. Being indecisive means you might miss out on the home of your dreams. If you’re a first-time buyer looking for a home in Brevard County or the state of Florida, Embrace Home Loans can work with you to get you qualified for a Florida mortgage and help you avoid some of the mistakes others make. Contact us today at 407-733-6425.

10 Secrets for First-Time Homebuyers

If you’re considering buying your first home, congratulations. Home ownership has a lot to recommend it, including building up equity and even tax breaks. But buying a home can be complicated, so here are 10 things you should remember:


  • Start early. For most people, buying a home is the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. So be prepared to spend some time shopping around. As you look at different options, you’ll get a much better idea of what you do and do not like, where you might want to live, and how much your house should cost.
  • Clean up your credit. One advantage to starting your home search early is that it gives you more time to work on your credit score, which can help you get a lower interest rate. Check your credit report for mistakes, reduce credit card debt, and pay all your bills on time.
  • Find or work with a licensed Realtor®. They can help find the home of your dreams and answer resale value questions.  You probably won’t live in your home for the rest of your life, so think about when you might eventually sell your home. There are renovation loans for homes, but you can’t renovate in an unfavorable neighborhood.
  • It’s not just a mortgage. Home ownership comes with a lot of other costs, like insurance (both homeowners and Florida mortgage insurance), taxes, utilities, neighborhood association fees, and more.
  • Get pre-approved. Pre-qualified and pre-approved are not the same thing. Pre-qualification can take as little as 10 minutes, but it just gives you an estimate of how much mortgage you might get. Pre-approval is more detailed, and your lender will verify your financial information and give you a firm idea of how much mortgage you can get. It’s still not guaranteed, but it’s much more certain.
  • Don’t over-spend. It’s tempting to buy the biggest house you can get, but you may not want to spend that much. You might want a less-expensive home in a better location, or you may just want some “breathing room” in your budget. Find a home that fits your finances and personal situation.
  • Get a good inspection. Home inspections are a crucial part of buying a home. You need to have an expert check the home for serious flaws and any other potential problems. You should always make any offer contingent on a home inspection.
  • Remember you’re also buying appliances. Be careful – you don’t want your air conditioner to die or your dishwasher to start leaking a few months after you move in. Find out how old the appliances are, and ask your home inspector if you have questions.
  • Check the property line. Remember, you’re buying the land, too. Make sure your neighbors didn’t build a fence on your property or you don’t own a tree that could fall down during our next Florida tropical storm and create liability. If it’s a significant lot, you may want to get it surveyed by a professional to confirm your property lines.
  • Location, location, location. Don’t just look at the house, check out the neighborhood. Take walks, and visit at different times of the day and night. Roll down your windows and listen. Do you hear dogs barking constantly? Can you smell a landfill nearby? If you can, talk to your neighbors. Find out as much as possible before you buy.


Most importantly, when you’re shopping for a home, be ready to walk away. Don’t get caught up in a bidding war and spend more than you can afford. If your inspector finds problems, it might be best to look elsewhere rather than trying to fix them. Remember, you’ll be paying for this house for a long time. You want it to be a good decision. If you’re currently shopping for a home, check with Embrace Home Loans. We’ll help you get pre-approved for a Florida mortgage and make sure you can get the financing you need before you start shopping. Call us today at 407-733-6425.