Home Buying 101: Florida Down Payment Assistance Programs

Posted: October 4, 2018 | Categories: News | General Info | Home Buying 101
By Highland Homes

Updated 05/15/20

Becoming a homeowner is the quintessential American dream. Yet, many Florida first-time homebuyers tell us they are holding off on achieving their dream because of concerns about making a down payment. If a down payment is the final piece of the puzzle in achieving your new home dreams, we have good news!

First, 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% of the purchase price, making them an ideal option for both first-time and repeat homebuyers who have little cash saved for a down payment.

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 affordable pricing on new homes designed for your life and 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 needs is to speak with a lender who specializes in these programs, such as Home Solution Lenders, Inc.

Florida Housing Finance Corporation Programs

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

  • 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
    • A homebuyer education class is required
    • Co-signers are not permitted
    • Purchase price limits and income limits apply - speak with an authorized lender to determine which program best suits your needs!
  • Primary Mortgage Programs:
    • FL First Bond (Government)
      • FHA, USDA, or VA 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
      • 4.000% interest rate
      • Down Payment Assistance - FL Assist or FL HLP (see below)
    • TBA Conventional (Freddie Mac)
      • 30-year fixed-rate conventional mortgage 
      • Down Payment Assistance - FL Assist or FL HLP (see below)
        • 3.375% interest rate
      • Down Payment Assistance - 3% Plus (see below)
        • 3.500% interest rate
      • Down Payment Assistance - 4% Plus (see below)
        • 4.000% interest rate
      • Reduced Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP)
    • TBA Conventional (Fannie Mae)
      • 30-year fixed-rate conventional mortgage 
      • Down Payment Assistance - FL Assist or FL HLP (see below)
        • 3.625% interest rate
      • Down Payment Assistance - 3% Plus (see below)
        • 3.750% interest rate
      • Down Payment Assistance - 4% Plus (see below)
        • 4.250% interest rate
      • Reduced Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP)
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • The Florida Assist (FL Assist)
      • Up to $7,500
      • 0% interest, 30-year deferred second mortgage
        • No monthly payment
      • 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
    • The Florida Homeownership Loan Program (FL HLP)
      • Up to $10,000
      • 3% interest full-amortizing, 15-year second mortgage
        • Carries a monthly payment
      • Can be used for down payment, closing costs, and prepaids, mortgage insurance premiums, or as a principal reduction to the first mortgage
      • Unpaid balance must be repaid upon sale, transfer, refinancing, satisfaction of the first mortgage, or you cease to occupy the home
    • Florida 3% and 4% Plus Second Mortgage 
      • 3% or 4% or 5% of the sales price in down payment and closing cost assistance
      • 0% interest, non-amortizing, 5-year forgivable second mortgage
        • No monthly payment
      • Forgiven at the rate of 20% a year over its 5-year term
      • Unpaid balance must be repaid upon sale, transfer, refinancing, satisfaction of the first mortgage, or you cease to occupy the home
    • Down payment programs cannot be combined — Your lender can help you determine which one program is best for you.

Have you served in our nation's military? First off, a huge THANK YOU for your service! Second, we have great news - Military service personnel and veterans can utilize the above programs with additional benefits under the Salute Our Soldiers Military Loan Program.

  • Who is eligible?
    • A veteran whose discharge status is anything other than dishonorable
    • Active-duty personnel from the military (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, National Guard, or the Reserves)
  • Additional benefits:
    • Considers income and first-time homebuyer status only of the borrower (rather than all in the household)
    • No upfront VA origination fee
    • Lower mortgage interest rates
      • Current rates are between 2.75% and 5.00% depending on the program and DPA utilized
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • Salute our Soldiers (3%, 4% or 5%)
      • 3%, 4% or 5% of the sales price
      • 0% interest, non-amortizing, 5-year forgivable second mortgage
        • No monthly payment
      • Can be used for down payment and closing costs
      • Forgiven at the rate of 20% a year over its 5-year term
      • Unpaid balance must be repaid upon sale, transfer, refinancing, satisfaction of the first mortgage, or you cease to occupy the home
        • Exception: Any unpaid balance will be forgiven for active-duty military personnel required to relocate and sell their property as a result
    • The Florida Assist (FL Assist)
      • Up to $7,500
      • 0% interest, 30-year deferred second mortgage
        • No monthly payment
      • 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
    • The Florida Homeownership Loan Program (FL HLP)
      • Up to $10,000
      • 3% interest full-amortizing, 15-year second mortgage
        • Carries a monthly payment
      • Can be used for down payment, closing costs, and prepaids, mortgage insurance premiums, or as a principal reduction to the first mortgage
      • Unpaid balance must be repaid upon sale, transfer, refinancing, satisfaction of the first mortgage, or you cease to occupy the home
    • Down payment programs cannot be combined — Your lender can help you determine which one program is best for you.

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
    • Purchase price limit: $283,348
    • Income limit:
      • Polk: $69,840 for 1-2 persons in HH, $81,134 for 3+ persons in HH
      • Pasco: $68,811 for 1-2 persons in HH, $79,133 for 3+ persons in HH
  • Primary Mortgage:
    • FHA, VA or USDA 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
    • 3.875% interest rate
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • $7,500
    • 0% interest, 30-year deferred second mortgage
      • No monthly payment
    • 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

  • Who is eligible?
    • Anyone - NO first-time homebuyer requirement
    • 640 minimum credit score
    • Purchasing a primary residence in Osceola, Orange, Lake, or Seminole Counties
    • Purchase price limit: $311,881
    • Income limit: $82,600
  • Primary Mortgage:
    • FHA, VA or USDA 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
    • 3.875% interest rate
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • Up to $7,500
    • 0% interest, 30-year deferred second mortgage
      • No monthly payment
    • 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

HFA of Hillsborough County

  • Who is eligible?
    • First-time home buyers
      • Veterans are excepted
    • 640 minimum credit score
    • Purchasing a primary residence in Hillsborough, Clay, or Brevard Counties, as well as the city of Jacksonville
    • Purchase price limit: $283,348
    • Income limits in Hillsborough County
      • $69,020 for 1-2 persons in HH
      • $82,886 for 3+ persons in HH
    • 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
    • 3.125% interest rate
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • Up to $10,000 in Hillsborough County
    • 0% interest, 30-year deferred second mortgage
      • No monthly payment
    • 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?
    • Anyone - NO first-time homebuyer requirement
    • 640 minimum credit score
    • Purchasing a primary residence in Manatee County
    • Purchase price limit: $288,769
    • Income limits:
      • $70,900 for 1-2 persons in HH
      • $81,535 for 3+ persons in HH
    • 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
      • 2.875% interest rate
    • Conventional (Freddie Mac) 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
      • 3.500% interest rate
  • Down Payment Assistance
    • Up to $10,000
    • 0% interest, 30-year deferred second mortgage
      • No monthly payment
    • 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?
    • Anyone - NO first-time homebuyer requirement
    • 640 minimum credit score
    • Purchasing a primary residence in Manatee County
    • Purchase price limit: $352,940
    • Income limit: $85,080
  • Primary Mortgage:
    • FHA, VA or USDA 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
      • 3.000% interest rate
    • Conventional (Freddie Mac) 30-year fixed-rate mortgage
      • 3.125% to 4.875% interest rate, depending on DPA utilized
  • Down Payment Assistance:
    • FHA, VA or USDA
      • 3% of the total purchase price of the home
    • Conventional
      • 3% to 5% of the total purchase price of the home
    • Can be used for down payment and closing costs
    • No repayment!

With 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.

Highland Homes builds new homes in Tampa Bay, Metro Orlando, Ocala, Sarasota-Bradenton, and Lakeland-Winter-Haven with pricing from the $180's to $300's. For more information about building your dream home in Florida, visit the Highland Homes website or contact our New Home Specialists at 863-797-4999.

Programs available as of May 15, 2020. For informational purposes only and not a guarantee of rates, terms, or program availability.


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