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Becoming a homeowner is the quintessential American dream. Yet, many Florida first-time home buyers we speak with tell us they are holding off on achieving their dream because of concerns about making a down payment.

First and foremost, the “need” to put a large sum of money down is a common misconception. There are mortgage programs available for first-time home buyers and military veterans that require 0% down. And, FHA home loans require a down payment of just 3.5%, making them an ideal option for both first-time and repeat home buyers who have little cash saved..

In addition, a number of Florida down payment assistance programs are available to help cover your down payment and other purchase costs. Combined with the awesome and affordable new homes built by Highland Homes in Florida, homeownership is easily within your reach!

We’ve rounded up the basics on Florida down payment assistance programs available when building your dream home with Highland Homes. Each program has household income and purchase price limits, which vary per program and per county, so the best way to determine which down payment assistance is the best fit for your specific needs is to speak with a lender who specializes in these programs, such as Home Solution Lenders, Inc.

Florida Housing Finance Corporation Programs – Florida Assist and FL HLP

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC) has down payment assistance programs available for both Government (FHA, VA, and USDA) and Conventional mortgage loans.

  • Who is eligible?
    • Generally, Florida first-time home buyers or those who have not owned their primary residence in the past 3 years – Some exceptions are noted below!
    • 640 minimum credit score
    • Purchasing a primary residence in Florida
  • Down Payment Assistance – Choice of:
    • Florida Assist – Up to $7,500
      • 30-year, 0% interest deferred loan
      • Can be used for down payment, closing costs and prepaids, mortgage insurance premiums, or as a principal reduction to the first mortgage
      • Repaid upon sale, transfer, refinancing, satisfaction of the first mortgage, or you cease to occupy the home
    • Or, FL HLP – Up to $10,000
      • 15-year amortizing, 3% interest second mortgage
      • Can be used for down payment, closing costs and prepaids, mortgage insurance premiums, or as a principal reduction to the first mortgage
      • Carries a monthly payment
    • Down payment programs cannot be combined – Your lender can help you determine which one program is best for you.

Bond FL First Program

  • Primary Mortgage:
    • FHA, VA or USDA 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
    • 5.25% interest rate
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • Choice of Florida Assist (up to $7,500) or FL HLP (up to $10,000)

Bond FL Military Heroes Program

  • Primary Mortgage:
    • FHA, VA or USDA 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
    • 5.00% interest rate
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • Choice of Florida Assist (up to $7,500) or FL HLP (up to $10,000)
  • Additional Guidelines:
    • Available to both first-time and repeat home buyers
    • Must be a:
      • Military veteran whose discharge status is anything other than dishonorable
      • Or, active duty military personnel

HFA Preferred Program

  • Primary Mortgage:
    • Conventional 30-year mortgage
    • 5.25% interest rate
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • Choice of Florida Assist (up to $7,500) or FL HLP (up to $10,000)

TBA FL HFA Preferred Program

  • Primary Mortgage:
    • Conventional 30-year mortgage
    • 5.875% interest rate
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • Choice of Florida Assist (up to $7,500) or FL HLP (up to $10,000)

Florida Housing Finance Corporation Programs – Grants

In addition to the above programs which require repayment of the down payment assistance, the FHFC offers Florida down payment grant programs. With the grant options, the monies given to you do not have to be repaid!

  • Who is eligible?
    • Generally, Florida first-time home buyers or those who have not owned their primary residence in the past 3 years
    • 640 minimum credit score
    • Purchasing a primary residence in Florida
    • Note: Cannot be combined with any other FHFC down payment assistance or grant programs.

4% Grant Program

  • Primary Mortgage:
    • FHA, VA or USDA 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
    • 5.25% interest rate
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • Up to 4% of the sales price or appraised value, whichever is less
    • Can be used for down payment, closing costs and prepaids, mortgage insurance premiums, or as a principal reduction to the first mortgage
    • No repayment!

TBA FL HFA Preferred Plus Program

  • Primary Mortgage:
    • Conventional 30-year mortgage
    • 5.875% or 6.25% interest rate
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • 5.875% interest rate
      • Up to 3% of the sales price or appraised value, whichever is greater
    • 6.25% interest rate
      • Up to 4% of the sales price or appraised value, whichever is greater
    • Can be used for down payment, closing costs and prepaids, mortgage insurance premiums, or as a principal reduction to the first mortgage
    • No repayment!

HFA of Pinellas County – Home Key Single Family Program

  • Who is eligible?
    • First-time home buyers
    • 660 minimum credit score
    • Purchasing a primary residence in Polk, Pasco, or Pinellas Counties
  • Primary Mortgage:
    • FHA, VA or USDA 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
    • 5.125% interest rate
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • $5,000 (in Polk and Pasco Counties)
    • 30-year, 0% interest deferred loan
    • Can be used for down payment and closing costs
    • Repaid upon sale, refinancing, satisfaction of the first mortgage, or you cease to occupy the home

Orange County HFA – Central Florida Homebuyer’s Dream Program

  • Who is eligible?
    • First-time home buyers
    • 640 minimum credit score
    • Purchasing a primary residence in Osceola, Orange, Lake, or Seminole Counties
  • Primary Mortgage:
    • FHA, VA or USDA 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
    • 4.875% interest rate
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • Up to $7,500
    • 30-year, 0% interest deferred loan
    • Can be used for down payment, closing costs, and reimbursement of prepaids and earnest money deposit
    • Repaid upon sale, refinancing, satisfaction of the first mortgage, or you cease to occupy the home

HFA of Hillsborough County

  • Who is eligible?
    • First-time home buyers
    • 640 minimum credit score
    • Purchasing a primary residence in Hillsborough, Clay, or Brevard Counties, as well as the city of Jacksonville
    • Required to reserve a Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC). This is a federal income tax credit used to reduce your income tax as long as the home is your principal residence!
  • Primary Mortgage:
    • FHA, VA or USDA 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
    • 5.00% interest rate
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • Up to $7,500
    • 30-year, 0% interest deferred loan
    • Can be used for down payment and closing costs
    • Repaid upon sale, transfer, refinancing, satisfaction of the first mortgage, or rental of the home in the first 30 years

HFA of Manatee County

Single Family Program

  • Who is eligible?
    • First-time and repeat home buyers
    • 640 minimum credit score
    • Purchasing a primary residence in Manatee County
    • Required to reserve a Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC). This is a federal income tax credit used to reduce your income tax as long as the home is your principal residence!
  • Primary Mortgage:
    • FHA, VA or USDA 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
    • 5.00% interest rate
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • Up to $10,000
    • 30-year, 0% interest deferred loan
    • Can be used for down payment and closing costs
    • Repaid in full on the earlier of 30 years or upon sale, transfer, rental or other disposition of the property, refinancing, or satisfaction of the first mortgage

Grant Program

  • Who is eligible?
    • Repeat (non first-time) home buyers
    • USDA and VA loans – 640 minimum credit score
    • FHA loans
      • 3% grant – 660 minimum credit score
      • 2% grant – 640-659 credit score
    • Purchasing a primary residence in Manatee County
  • Primary Mortgage:
    • FHA, VA or USDA 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
    • 5.625% interest rate
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • Up to 3% of the total purchase price of the home
    • Can be used for down payment and closing costs
    • No repayment!

Escambia County HFA

  • Who is eligible?
    • First-time home buyers
    • 640 minimum credit score
    • Purchasing a primary residence in Marion, Alachua, Bay, Bradford, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hernando, Indian River, Jackson, Jefferson, Lean, Martin, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, St. Lucie, Wakulla, or Walton Counties
  • Primary Mortgage:
    • FHA, VA or USDA 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
    • 5.125% interest rate
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • Up to $7,500
    • 30-year, 0% interested deferred loan
    • Can be used for down payment and closing costs
    • Repaid upon sale, refinancing, transfer of title, or rental of the home if done within the first 30 years

New home in Florida by Highland HomesWith so many available options and unique requirements for each program, it’s important to talk to an expert to determine which program makes the most sense for your unique situation. We suggest contacting Home Solution Lenders, Inc., a Highland Homes Preferred Lender and FHFC approved Participating Lender.

For more information about building your dream home in Florida with Highland Homes, visit the Highland Homes website or contact our New Home Specialists at 863-797-4999.

Programs available as of Sept. 12, 2018. For informational purposes only and not a guarantee of rates, terms, or program availability.