Skip to content
Fact Checked by Experts

FHA Loan in Gulf County, Florida: Learn About the Low Down Payment Options

Are you looking to purchase a home in Gulf County, Florida? While there are many different loan programs, an FHA loan is one of the most popular and reliable options. These loans can be used to purchase new or existing homes with as little as 3.5% down on the home's purchase price.

FHA loans are popular among first-time home buyers because of their low down payment requirements, as well as their easy qualification standards and long-term repayment terms.

These FHA loans have been helping people buy homes since 1934, so if you're looking to buy a house in this county, ensure you understand the basics of FHA loans before starting your application process.

This article will discuss all the crucial information you need to comprehend about FHA loans, including the 3.5% down payment, down payment assistance programs, loan limits, using cash under the mattress, and other exciting things about Gulf County. Keep reading to find out more.

Understand the Basics of FHA Loans

FHA loans are a popular choice for homebuyers in the United States because they offer low-down payment options and flexible credit requirements. You can purchase a home with as little as 3.5% down with an FHA loan.

To qualify for an FHA loan, you must have a minimum credit score of 580 and meet other eligibility requirements. Plus, you may be able to get a lower interest rate on your loan if you have an excellent credit score and steady income.

FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, which means that if borrowers default on their loans, the FHA will pay the lender back. This makes lenders more likely to lend to borrowers with less-than-perfect credit and low down payments.

With that in mind, read on to discover more basics of FHA loans.

The 3.5 Down Payment

The FHA loan is a popular mortgage for first-time homebuyers because it only requires a 3.5% down payment. This means you will need to have saved up enough money for a 3.5% of your home purchase price before applying for an FHA loan.

This low down payment option makes buying a home more affordable for families and individuals who may not have the savings for a traditional 20% down payment.

It's important to note that even if you have a low down payment, you will still have to pay mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) because it is a requirement on any loan secured with less than 20% down. You'll make regular mortgage insurance payments into your principal and interest payments.

Note that you'll have to pay a higher MIP if you pay a small down payment, while the amount will be lower if you pay a substantial down payment. For example, with 3.5% down, your MIP will be 1.75%, but with 10% down, it'll be 0.85%.

FHA Loan Limits in Gulf County, Florida

The Federal Housing Administration limits the size of mortgages it will insure. The loan limits vary by county. The counties in various states have specific loan limits and income requirements. That is because the cost of living varies significantly by region, and median income levels vary accordingly.

These limits are higher for homebuyers looking to buy a multi-unit property or in a high-cost area. The maximum FHA loan limits in Gulf County, Florida, are $420,680 for single-unit houses, $809,150 for four-unit buildings, $651,050 for tri-plex, and $538,650 for duplexes.

Down Payment Assistance Programs

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has several down payment assistance programs from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. This assistance can help you get into the home of your dreams by providing up to $10,000 to cover the cost of your down payment and closing costs.

Depending on the program you choose, you could be eligible to receive loans, grants, and other types of funding to help you afford your FHA mortgage.

In general, eligibility is determined by household income and credit history, although state-specific requirements may vary. Many programs require an application; sometimes, you may need to complete a training course.

Plans provide different levels of financial assistance. Some base their assistance on a percentage of the purchase price, while others use a fixed amount of money.

A popular FHA down payment assistance program is the second mortgage program (FL Assist Program), which offers up to $10K assistance for a down payment, closing costs, and other transaction costs.

The program isn't available to home buyers who already own or plan on buying more than one property, as it's available only to first-time home buyers.

If you meet the eligibility requirements, this second mortgage program assistance will offer you benefits such as:

  • Up to $7,500 may be offered for conventional loans and up to $10,000 for FHA and USDA-RD loans. Effective June 1, 2021.

  • 0%, non-amortizing, deferred second mortgage.

  • Meet all counties' qualifications for one of the FL First mortgage programs (FHA, USDA-RD, and Fannie Mae HFA Preferred). You'll automatically qualify since it's not a stand-alone second mortgage program.

A Florida Assist loan is set up to be deferred but becomes payable in full if the mortgagor terminates occupancy of the property, sells, transfers, pays off the first mortgage, or refinances the property.

Note that FL Assist is not reversible. FL Assist cannot be combined with FL Housing's other down payment assistance programs.

Additional resources that can assist you with your down payment are programs provided by the state, local governments, private lenders, and non-profit organizations.

Many of these programs provide loans and grants, meaning you never have to repay them. Loans are sometimes available for first-time home buyers who have lived in the house for several years.

Other assistance programs are designed for members of the military, veterans, surviving spouses, and those buying homes in low-income neighborhoods.

Each aid program has a unique set of requirements, including having a minimum credit score, a sufficient income, and a perfect debt-to-income ratio.

Can You Use Cash Under the Mattress for an FHA Loan?

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has specific guidelines and restrictions that home buyers must be aware of when using FHA loans to finance their home purchases.

If you're applying for an FHA loan, you may have wondered if cash under the mattress counts toward your liquid assets or not. This can be important to understand, especially if you plan to use the money from selling your assets to buy a new home.

Whether using your stashed cash is possible depends on several factors, including the source of cash, so read on to find out more about this type of funding option.

Besides having cash count as secret money that can hinder your chances of getting approved for an FHA loan, it also represents one of the worst places to store funds due to several disadvantages. You can cause many problems if you hide cash under your mattresses.

When financing an FHA-insured loan, the Federal Housing Administration won't accept cash value as an eligible payment source. This is done to prevent these government-backed loans from being used as money laundering practices.

The trouble with mattress money or hoarding cash in hidden places in your home is that there's no paper trail. Your lender can't confirm the source of your stashed cash, when you started saving it, or whether it's part of your ongoing savings routine.

One of the reasons for loan rejections or delays is the lack of proof that you can pay the closing costs or repay a loan with the cash under the mattress. Therefore, you must present proof of regular income and savings to lenders before a loan is approved.

If you have cash under your mattress or stashed in a hidden place in your house and wish to use it for FHA loan down payment and closing costs, deposit it into a bank account at least three months ahead.

Consequently, you'll have mature funds in your bank account, and no hefty deposits will show up on your bank statements when the lender reviews them.

Depending on your best banking method, you can deposit "the cash under your mattress" into your bank account via an ATM that accepts cash deposits or online banking.

FHA Loan phrase on the book cover

Family-friendly Activities in Gulf County, Florida

Gulf County, Florida, has always been one of the most popular places to visit or stay in the Sunshine State due to its unspoiled beaches and pristine nature. As a destination, Gulf County has much to offer families looking to spend time together and make memories.

Whether you want to relax on the beach or explore the wildlife and county attractions, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

Below are seven fun activities in Gulf County to keep your family entertained through thrilling outdoor adventures or casual outdoor relaxation.

Visit the Beaches

The beaches here are some of the most beautiful in the world. The water is crystal clear, and the sand is white and powdery. Plenty of activities keep everyone entertained, from swimming and sunbathing to fishing and kayaking.

What's more than a family spending a day lounging on the sand, playing with the waves, and tanning? And when you're ready for a break from the sun, there are plenty of restaurants and shops nearby to explore.

Don't forget to pack some snacks, drinks, and plenty of sunscreens to keep everyone happy. Below are some of the best beaches in Gulf County, Florida:

  • Coral Beach
  • Cape Palms Park
  • Lee Street Beach
  • George Core Park
  • Panama City Beach
  • Destin Beach
  • Pensacola Beach
  • St. Pete Beach
  • Dunes Drive Beach
  • Higgens Street Beach
  • Indian Pass Boat Ramp

Bike Ride Along The Loggerhead Trail

The Loggerhead Trail is a family-friendly biking trail that runs along St. Joseph's Bay in northwestern Florida, near Cape San Blas. You can start along the trail and ride as long or as short as you like.

There are plenty of options, from beach cruisers and mountain bikes to electric ones. Renting a bike from one of the local shops is an easy way to start.

The trail is also great for walking, running, and rollerblading and is wide enough for strollers. There are also plenty of places to stop and take a break along the way on the benches or under shade trees. You'll see dolphins, birds, and wildlife along the way. There are no fees for bikes or pets on this trail.

Go Camping

Camping is a great way to spend time with your family, bond with nature, and create lasting memories. There are plenty of camping spots in Gulf County, so you're sure to find one perfect for your family. You can roast marshmallows over the campfire or play games together when you're not hiking or fishing.

Cooking at the campsite will also be an option if you bring enough food. For those who prefer staying close to home, there are also many options within driving distance.

Below are some of the favorite campgrounds in Gulf County:

  • Old-Salt RV Park
  • Water's Edge RV Park
  • Aqua Bay RV Park LLC
  • Indian Pass Campground
  • Gardner Landing Campground
  • Mexico Beach RV Resort
  • Fisherman's Landing RV Park
  • Wewa RV Park & Trading Post
  • Presnell's Bayside Marina & RV Resort

Visit the Amusement Parks

Gulf County is home to some of the best amusement parks in The Sunshine State. If you're looking for a fun-filled day with your family, look no further than these top-rated attractions.

From thrilling roller coasters to gentle rides for the little ones, there's something for everyone at these parks. And when you're ready to take a break from the excitement, check out the eateries and shops onsite.

Many parks offer discounts for large groups, making it more affordable for families. Here are 10 of the best amusement parks in Gulf County:

  • Gulf County Veterans Memorial Park at Beacon Hill
  • Constitution Convention Museum State Park
  • George Core Park (Lighthouse Park)
  • Swampy Jack's Wongo Adventure
  • Shipwreck Island Waterpark
  • Cape San Blas Lighthouse
  • Beachfront Adventures
  • Cape Palms Park
  • Salinas Park
  • Race City
  • Stumphole

Go Shopping

Shopping is a great activity to do with your family because it can be done anytime. It's a great way to bond and find gifts for loved ones. Plus, it's an easy activity for kids because they can choose what they want.

There are plenty of great places to go shopping in Gulf County. You can find everything from clothes and accessories to home goods and souvenirs. Plus, there are plenty of stores that offer discounts for families.

Shopping at these stores is a great way to save money with your family. Here are some of the top shopping spots in Gulf County, Florida:

  • Fuss
  • Drip Kids
  • Heaven Sent
  • Boutique Off 98
  • Coastal Cabin Marketplace
  • No Name Books & Gifts
  • Randy's Discount Grocery
  • Wewa Outdoors & Pawn LLC
  • Goodwill Retail Store & Donation Center

Visit One of the Top Restaurants for a Delicious Hispanic Cuisine

If you're looking for a delicious and affordable meal, head to one of Gulf County's many Hispanic restaurants. You'll find traditional dishes like tacos and enchiladas and special fares like plantains and tamales.

The food is delicious, the atmosphere is perfect for a family meal, and the staff in each Hispanic restaurant is friendly and accommodating.

Stop by one of the following restaurants for a delicious and authentic Hispanic dining experience in Gulf County:

  • Pepper's Mexican Grill & Cantina
  • Quattro Locos Tacos and Cantina
  • Mr. G's Smokehouse & Seafood Grill
  • Taqueria Melina
  • Taco Bell
  • Peachy'S Beach Eats
  • Sand Dollar Cafe
  • Skully's Low Country Boil
  • Provisions Restaurant & Catering

Bottom Line

If you're considering buying a home in Gulf County, Florida, but want to avoid dealing with the frustration of high down payments, an FHA loan might be right for you. While conventional financing requires at least 20% down, an FHA loan requires as little as 3.5% down payment if you take advantage of one of the low-down payment options available through the program.

To make things even easier, the FHA allows homebuyers to use assistance programs, grants, and gift funds for this down payment requirement.

Don't hesitate to contact an FHA-approved lender or your local Federal Housing Administration office to confirm your eligibility and get the help you need to send your loan application.

With over 50 years of mortgage industry experience, we are here to help you achieve the American dream of owning a home. We strive to provide the best education before, during, and after you buy a home. Our advice is based on experience with Phil Ganz and Team closing over One billion dollars and helping countless families.

Find The Right Mortgage

For more than 20 years, Phil have been helping customers achieve their home purchase and refinance goals by providing them with invaluable resources and support.

Schedule a FREE Consultation
Phil Ganz

Subscribe to Get Your First Time Homebuyer Checklist

Sign up for the weekly newsletter to stay up to date on the latest real estate market trends, loan news, and so much more!