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First-time homebuyers in Florida who need help buying a home have a place to turn to. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation, known simply as Florida Housing, offers several down payment and closing cost assistance programs to help you buy your first home.

Florida Housing programs are available to first-time homebuyers — or anyone who hasn’t owned and occupied a home in three years. Activity military members, qualified veterans and anyone purchasing in a federally designated targeted area may also be eligible. A “targeted area” is a neighborhood, block or street where 70 percent or more of households earn 80 percent or less of the statewide median income, as determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Florida Housing’s home loan programs

Florida Housing’s loan programs are all 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Here’s an overview:

Borrower requirements

  • Available to first-time homebuyers, qualified veterans and active military members
  • Must meet income, credit and purchase price requirements
  • Can combine with a down payment or closing cost assistance program
  • Must complete a homebuyer education class
  • Tax credit available for mortgage interest payments

Property requirements

  • Must be a primary residence located within the state of Florida

Florida First and Military Heroes Loan programs

Geared toward qualified active duty and veteran military members, these programs offer 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages for government-insured loans (FHA, VA and USDA). Military Heroes offers lower rates than Florida First, and you don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer to use either program. Borrowers can combine these loans with a Florida Housing down payment and closing cost assistance program.

FL HFA Preferred & Preferred PLUS Conventional Loan programs

Borrowers who qualify for these 30-year, fixed-rate conventional mortgages will see lower mortgage insurance costs than with comparable FHA loans. The loans can be combined with a down payment and closing cost assistance program. Two Preferred PLUS conventional loan options provide qualified borrowers with 3 percent or 4 percent grants to pay for closing costs and their down payment. Those grants do not have to be repaid. The 4 percent grant comes with a much higher interest rate than the standard Preferred and 3 percent Preferred PLUS loans.

Florida Housing down payment and closing cost assistance programs

Florida Assist Second Mortgage Program (FL Assist)

Eligible borrowers receive up to $7,500 at 0 percent interest on a deferred second mortgage to use toward a down payment. Repayment is deferred until the home is sold or ownership is transferred, or when the loan is paid off or refinanced.

3% HFA Preferred Grant

This program provides qualified borrowers with 3 percent of the home’s purchase price to use toward down payment and closing costs. The grant does not have to be repaid.

Florida Housing’s Mortgage Credit Certificate Program (MCC)

Qualified first-time homebuyers can claim 50 percent of their paid mortgage interest, with a cap of $2,000, in the form of a tax credit each year they live in their home. The tax credit reduces borrowers’ tax burden to help free up more income that can be put toward mortgage payments and other household expenses.
Note: These programs must be used with a Florida Housing loan program.

Get started

Now that you have the lowdown on what help is available to buy your first home in Florida, you’re ready to take the next steps. For full details on loan programs and requirements, visit Florida Housing’s website. Keep in mind that Florida Housing is not a lender and doesn’t make borrowing decisions. Reach out to one of its approved lenders to apply for a mortgage or learn more details about which program best meets your needs. Keep in mind that lenders may have their own varying income and credit rules to qualify for a loan.