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.