First Time Home Buyer Florida: 2024 Guide to Unlocking Homeownership

Buying your first home can be exciting, but there is also a lot of stress involved, especially regarding money. After all, buying a home is probably the biggest purchase you make in your life. 

First time home Buyer Florida or anyone who hasn’t owned and occupied a home in three years can benefit from Florida Housing Programs. Active military members, qualified veterans, or anyone purchasing in a federally designated targeted area may also be eligible. 

For first time buyers, to make the home-buying process easier, the Florida state offers handful of first time home buyers programs that helps in state-buyers secure their first mortgage and make a down payment. 

First Time Home Buyer Florida Programs

Florida First Time Home Buyer - FLTrendz

Florida has offered its first time home buyers programs through an organization known as Florida Housing. Florida’s state government created the Florida Housing.

One of the primary ways Florida Housing assists first time home buyers through its mortgage program, make it easier for new homeowners to get 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. This program works with conventional, FHA, VA, USDA, and FHA mortgages. 

Although the intention behind the program is to make it easier for first-time home buyers to get approved for a mortgage, there is one problem. Only 30-year mortgages are offered by Florida Housing, and those are a terrible deal.

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Florida Down Payment Programs

One of its top mortgage programs, Florida Housing offers a few major down payment assistance programs designed specifically for first-time home buyers.

These programs take the form of either a second mortgage or a grant and must be paired with a mortgage from the Florida Housing program we discussed earlier.

Also read: Best Home Builders in Florida

Florida’s, down payment assistance programs are, the Florida Assist Second Mortgage Programs tProgram, da Homeownership Programs Program, A grant-based programs.

Florida Assist Second Mortgage Program

Florida Assist Second Mortgage Programs also known as FL Assist, offers first time home buyer down payment assistance in form of 0% interest deferred loan, means you don’t need to make payments on your down payment assistance until you pay off your primary mortgage. You can borrow up to $10,000 on conventional, VA, FHA, or USDA loans.

For instance, when you sell or refinance your home, the balance of the Florida Assist loan will be due in full immediately, which means if the interest rate goes down and you want to refinance your mortgage to take advantage, this will cost you up to $10,000 right out of the gate. 

Florida Homeownership Program

Florida Homeownership Program also named as FL HLP, offers first time buyers $10,000 loan for their down payment that can be paired with FL Assist.

However, unlike FL Assist, FL HLP loans carry a 3% rate and monthly payments. But now the monthly is not that much, only $69.06, but you’ll pay it for 15 years. That’s on top of your house payment, Seriously!

Also read: How to buy a condo in Florida

HFA Preferred & HFA Advantage Plan

Unlike the other two programs, the HFA Preferred and HFA Advantage Plans offer down payment assistance in the form of a forgivable grant rather than a loan.

It means, under most circumstances, the home buyers who use this program don’t need to pay back that money, which can be 3-5% of the home’s value.

But there’s a catch: only 20% of the grant is forgiven each year, which means it won’t be completely forgiven for five years.

This program is only available to approved buyers with low or moderate income because it takes the form of a grant rather than a loan.

Other First-Time Home Buyer Programs in Florida

Florida Housing has also offered two other first-time home buyer programs designed for buyers in specific lines of work.

Salute Our Soldiers Military Loan Program

The Salute Our Soldiers Military Loan Program provides discounted rates on 30-year fixed mortgages, available to active duty service members and most veterans.

However, It may also be paired with any of Florida’s down payment assistance programs. 

Even with a discounted rate, a 30-year mortgage will still cost you a ton more in interest over the long haul than a 15-year loan.

And what you’re getting in exchange for that extra interest is the privilege of being in debt for an extra decade and a half and slightly smaller monthly payments. 

Hometown Heroes

Hometown Heroes is a down payment assistance program from Florida Housing, similar to FL Assist.

Likewise, the FL Assist also offers buyer-down payment assistance as a 30-year deferred second mortgage with 0% interest.

The Hometown Heroes was specifically designed for Floridians who serve the community in their full-time jobs.

The list of eligible occupations includes licensed K-12 teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other frontline workers. 

Moreover, Hometown Heroes also facilitates larger loans than FL Assist -5 % of the home’s total value, up to $25,000.

Should I use the First Time Home Buyer Florida Program?

These programs may seem like great options, specifically if you’re interested in buying a house but don’t have enough money for a strong down payment. However, you should not use them, suggesting you stay far away. Why?  

For newbies, all these programs require a 30-year mortgage. And 30-year mortgages flat-out stink.

For instance, if you take a mortgage in your 20s, you will still make payments in your 50s. Frustrating? Who wants to be chained to debt for so long?

Moreover, at any point, if interest rates go down over those years and you want to refinance your mortgage, then you will have to come up with cash to pay Florida Housing back for your second mortgage on the spot.

Here’s a suggestion for firs-time homebuyer, you should not buy home unless you will be able to make down payment for 5-10% without second mortgage or grant. If you cannot, you’re not ready to buy a home. 

For a down payment, relying on a second loan means taking on more debt, and smaller down payments mean bigger monthly payments.

So, instead of using these Floridian Housing Programs, buy your first home immediately by taking the time to save money for 5-10% down payments.

Florida Down Payments Assistance

Florida Assist Second Mortgage Program

Eligible borrowers can receive up to $7,500 at zero percent interest on a deferred second mortgage to use towards a down payment on conventional loans through Florida Housing.

If obtaining an FHA, VA, or USDA loan, eligible borrowers can receive up to $10,000. The repayment will be deferred until the borrower moves, the home is sold, or the borrower refinances the mortgage.

HFA Preferred Grants

The HFA Preferred Grants program provides borrowers with 3,4, or 5 percent of the home’s purchase price for the down payment and closing costs. After five years, the second mortgage is forgiven.

Florida Homeownership Loan Programs

This program provides buyers with up to $10,000 in assistance as a second mortgage at 3 percent interest.

The mortgage must be paid off over 15 years unless the buyer refinances, moves, sells, or transfers the ownership of the property. In these cases, the balance must be paid off in full. 

Other First Time Home Buyer Florida Loans and Programs

There are a number of national programs, including FHA, VA, and USDA, which help first-time home buyers get into homes, as well.

However, FHA, VA, USDA loans, and other specialized programs are based on your mortgage lender or plans to renovate new properties. 

Making Sense of Florida Home Buyers Programs

When researching Housing Options, you’ll get a list of acronyms for agencies, programs, and products. Some of the important ones are mentioned below:

  • FHFC: The Florida Housing or Florida Housing Finance Corp, a go-to-agency for Floridians with low to moderate income and looking to buy a home, provides resources and programs to make the process clearer and more affordable. 
  • FHA: In 1934, during the heart of the great depression, The Federal Housing Administration was created to ensure mortgage and construction standards. 
  • HUD: The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development has a variety of programs to help homebuyers, including veterans and their spouses. HUD also has extensive guidance on your rights as a homebuyer and how to shop for a home, get a mortgage, and more. 
  • USDA: The U.S Department of Agriculture Rural Development Agency has various programs for homebuyers in rural areas. 
  • VA: The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs offers mortgage loans to members of veterans, military, and their spouses. 
  • PMI: Private Mortgage Insurance is usually required for borrowers whose down payment is less than 20%. If the borrower can’t pay and is foreclosed on, it helps to protect lenders. For low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers, most of the loans offered have a down payment of 3%, so this will likely be required while buying a home. 

Florida Housing Help for First Time Home Buyers

If you’re a first-time Florida home buyer, one of the first places to visit is Florida Housing, which was created by the Florida Legislature in 1980 as an independent agency.

This agency ensures the state’s residents have affordable options for buying homes, including renting in a challenging market. 

For first time buyers, Florida Housing has three main programs 

Homebuyers Programs: This program provides 30-year fixed rate mortgage loans for time home buyers by participating lenders throughout the state, including conventional 30-year mortgage, its 3% plus 30-year mortgage, and its Military Heroes programs for active-duty military and veterans. 

Down Payment Assistant Programs: Down Program and closing cost assistance, in the form of a second mortgage loan, is used with Florida Housing’s first mortgage loan.

Mortgage Certificate Programs: A federal Income Tax Credit that can be used with a first mortgage helps generate income for a borrower to make mortgage payments and meet other household expenses. 

Florida Housing also has a State Housing Initiative Partnership, help first time homebuyer to meet financial challenges, specific to certain parts of Florida. Therefore, it’s recommended that you check Florida Housing’s website to see if the community has any program that can help you.

Qualifying for Florida Housing First-Time Homebuyers benefits

Certain income limits exist to qualify for first-time homebuyer programs of Florida Housing, HUD, and other agencies. The limit can vary by country: 

Following are the standards, no matter which of Florida’s 67 counties you live in.

  • 620 or higher credit score. 
  • The property must be in Florida. 
  • It must be the buyer’s primary residence. 
  • The buyer must take 6-8 hours of homebuyer education. 

While applying for a mortgage, your FICO credit score can be the most important part. Maxed-out credit cards, late payments, loan defaults, and using for credit more often will lower your credit score.

The Florida Housing’s website can help you understand what you may qualify for and provide information on where to apply for loans. 

Get Started

You’re ready to take step towards buying home as Florida Housing has offered you several programs to assist first time homebuyers. You just need to visit Florida Housing’s website for full details on loan programs and requirements. Remember, Florida Housing is not a lender and doesn’t make borrowing decisions. To apply for a mortgage or learn more about which program best meets your needs, just reach out to one of its approved lenders. Keep in mind that lenders might have their own income and credit rules to qualify for a loan. 


Yes. In Florida, many Florida-specific and national loan options help you to buy your first home. 

No. Being prequalified for a mortgage does not mean you’ve been approved for a mortgage. You still have to secure funding through the standard loan application process. 

You’re eligible to put no money down if you qualify for a VA or USDA loan. However, you can put as little as 3% down if you qualify for a conventional loan. 

Is there a first-time homebuyer tax credit in Florida?

Yes, Floridians who are also first time home buyers may qualify for mortgage credit certificate, that allows them to claim 10% to 50% of the mortgage interest paid in a given tax year, as a federal tax credit. 

Yes, because the home you love may have hidden flaws or be overpriced. Therefore, underwriters require a home appraisal from a lender-approved appraiser before providing final mortgage application approval. A home appraisal’s objective is to give you an idea about the home’s value to ensure you aren’t over-extending yourself financially. 

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