Skip to content
Fact Checked by Experts

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

Most renters don't venture into homeownership due to the steep financial requirements of buying a home. The down payment, in particular, is an upfront payment that non-homeowners have to pay out of pocket and most often cannot afford. Furthermore, the risk of losing the investment if you default on your monthly payments is enough to make anyone hesitate to buy a house.

Fortunately, you can take advantage of low down payment mortgage and down payment assistance programs to significantly lower your barrier to entry into homeownership. The federal government offers these programs to minimize people's obstacles when buying houses.

The programs are tailored to reduce the risk for lenders while empowering them to offer low down payment options and interest rates. They're also more lenient towards people with a turbulent financial history and can accommodate even those who've faced bankruptcy.

If you've set your sights on Wakulla County, you may be eligible for government-backed mortgage loans requiring a much smaller down payment than conventional loans. Furthermore, you may even qualify for down payment assistance to cover the initial costs of purchasing a house.

In this guide, you'll learn about the low down payment and loan assistance programs to consider as a first-time home buyer in Wakulla County and how each of these programs affects the amount of money you need to raise on your own when buying your primary residence.

What is the Florida FHA Loan?

The Florida FHA loan is a mortgage backed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

These loans are typically available with very low-down payment options. They are also more forgiving to people with low credit scores.

Furthermore, it is possible to qualify for an FHA loan with a history of bankruptcy and add the closing costs to your monthly premiums instead of paying them outright. For such reasons, many first-time home buyers find FHA loans attractive.

That said, it is essential to note that FHA loans are insured to protect the lender from losses if you default on your payments. You must pay a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) upfront and annually for the life of the loan or 11 years, depending on how much down payment you pay.

You must pay at least a 10% down payment to qualify for the second option. In most cases, the mortgage premium will be 1.75% of the base loan amount.


To qualify for a loan from the FHA, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be planning to use the home as your primary residence, not investment or secondary residence.

  • You must move into the property within 60 days after closing.

  • The home must be inspected and certified to meet the minimum property standards.

  • An FHA-approved appraiser must appraise the home.

Down Payments

A down payment is an upfront amount, usually a percentage of the purchase price, which you must put down on a home you're interested in buying. This investment assures the lender that you won't default on the loan since you will lose the down payment if you do.

The minimum down payment you can make on an FHA loan greatly depends on your credit score, a figure that lenders use to determine your creditworthiness. It ranges from 300 to 850; the higher your score, the better your loan conditions.

If your credit score is between 500 and 579, you may qualify for an FHA loan that requires a minimum of 10% down payment. However, if your score is above 580, FHA only requires a minimum of 3.5% down payment.

A better credit score will result in a much lower down payment amount, but keep in mind that paying less than 10% of the deposit means that your MIPs last the life of the loan.

Loan Limits

FHA mortgage loans in Wakulla County may not exceed the following limits:

  • Up to $420,680 for a single-family unit
  • Up to $538,650 for a duplex
  • Up to $651,050 for a triplex
  • Up to $809,150 for a quad-plex

Note - Buildings with more than four living spaces or units are considered commercial and therefore don't qualify for FHA loans.

In addition to these loans, the residents of Wakulla County have access to the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM). Unlike the FHA loans listed above, the HECM's limit does not vary with the size of the house, and in 2022, its upper limit is $970,800.

Interest Rates

Due to government backing, FHA offers very competitive interest rates, making it less risky for lenders to offer very low-interest rates.

Bear in mind, however, that this rate can be influenced by factors such as your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, the loan amount you plan to borrow, and the size of your down payment.

Credit Score

A FICO score of 580 allows you to pay as little as a 3.5% down payment on an FHA loan, whereas a score between 500 and 579 raises the down payment minimum to 10%.

Your credit score can determine how little or how much you pay upfront for an FHA loan. A good credit score is a solid indicator of your creditworthiness, and the factors that affect that include:

  • How much credit do you use
  • How much you owe on your credit cards
  • Credit types (loans, credit cards, etc.)
  • How do you pay your bills
  • The amount of recent credit you have

If you have a poor credit rating, your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio can boost your eligibility for an FHA loan. The DTI ratio is the percentage of income you spend on debts. It is calculated by dividing the total debt you own by your monthly gross income.

For example, if you make debt payments that amount to $5,000 per month and earn $10,000, your DTI is 50%. Lenders prefer borrowers with lower DTIs as they have more income to cover the monthly payments of their loans.

To qualify for an FHA loan, your monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 31% of your gross income per month, and your DTI should be no higher than 43% of your monthly gross income (this only applies if your loan is manually underwritten).

Income Requirements

FHA does not require a specific income amount to qualify for loans. What you need to prove is that you've had steady employment.

To that end, you must share bank statements, W-2s, federal tax returns, pay stubs, and other verification forms with the lender to help them verify your income.

Word FHA written on wooden cubes with magnifying glass and documents

Can You Make a Down Payment in Cash?

Cash payments tend to be frowned upon by lenders. Cash can be untraceable, which makes it impossible for lenders to ascertain that it isn't being laundered or coming from an illegal source of income. All lenders must see a clear paper trail for your money before qualifying for any loan.

If you have a pile of cash under the mattress that you wish to use as a down payment, here's what you need to do.

  • Deposit the cash – If you don't have a bank account, open one and deposit the cash. You can also deposit it into any active bank accounts you own.

  • Wait 60 days – "seasoning your funds" is a way to earn lenders' trust by letting money sit in your account. During this period, avoid making any vast withdrawals or moving money around.

  • Disclose the source of the cash – Whether you received a cash gift from a friend or liquidated an asset, it's essential to disclose the source of your income to the IRS for tax reasons. This is especially important if you're a cash-based business. Even if you make multiple cash deposits every month, disclosing them to the IRS allows lenders to verify your sources of income.

You can use contributions from friends and relatives to make down payments, but only under the following conditions:

  • The gift comes from an approved source of income.

  • The gift donor does not have any interest in the sale of the property. You cannot pay with gifts from your real estate agent, the builder, or the seller.

  • The gift is not a loan that you will need to pay back.

Florida Housing Down Payment Assistance Programs

If you cannot afford to raise the down payment for a mortgage loan, the FHA offers two down payment assistance programs that can ease your financial burden. They are as follows.

The Florida Assist Second Mortgage Program

If you qualify for an FHA loan, you automatically qualify for the Florida Assist Second Mortgage Program, called FL Assist for short.

Borrowers that qualify for any other FL First Mortgage Loan Program, a Fannie Mae FHA, or a USDA-RD loan automatically qualify for the FL Assist. However, there are different loan limits for conventional and government-backed loans:

  • You can get up to $7,500 for conventional loans (such as Fannie Mae FHA)

  • You can get up to $10,000 for USDA-RD and FHA loans

The Florida Homeownership Loan Second Mortgage Program

Qualifying for an FHA loan also means automatic qualification for a Florida Homeownership Loan Second Mortgage Program, the FL HLP.

All borrowers that qualify for an FL First Mortgage Loan Program are eligible for this DPA program and can receive up to $10,000. The FL HLP has a 15-year term and comes with a monthly payment. It also cannot be combined with another down payment assistant program.

Down payment assistant programs such as these enable you to cover all upfront and closing costs of purchasing a home. With a good credit score and low DTI, you can easily qualify for a mortgage loan and down payment.

Reasons to Purchase a Home in Wakulla County, Florida

Wakulla County, Florida, was historically a transport corridor that connected the North and the South via the Tallahassee – St. Marks railroad trail. Today, it is chiefly recognized for the wildlife in its large natural areas, such as the Apalachicola National Forest, the St. Marks National Wildlife refuge, and Wakulla Springs, one of the world's largest freshwater springs.

As of the 2020 census, the population of Wakulla County sits at just over 33,000. The county's many schools and historical attractions attract most people who move here. Here are some reasons why thousands of families choose to settle in Wakulla County.

Access to schools

The population is served by four elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school, a Christian school, and a charter school, which comprise the Wakulla County school district.

Following changes in their education system, the county now has an education center for pre-kindergarten kids and adults. The Sopchoppy Education Center, formerly known as Sopchoppy Elementary School, provides auxiliary education and serves as a second chance school.

Family-friendly activities

Wakulla County is home to an expansive natural environment that offers many family-friendly outdoor activities opportunities.

One of the most popular pastimes for the locals is spending time on the water. The county has 129 square miles of water, including several streams, rivers, and lakes. Furthermore, the stunning Gulf of Mexico is just a few minutes away!

Families here spend weekends and holidays on boats and kayaks since rentals are available on just about every block. Water activities range from mild and relaxing to adrenaline-inducing, and there are more than enough waterways to explore.

Hundreds of miles of hiking trails and campsites are available in Wakulla County, making camping and fishing some of the most popular activities. In each of the five protected wildlife sanctuaries, there are hiking opportunities, birding (bird watching), and strolls into the intriguing woods.

If preferred, families can explore the scenic trails and coastlines on horseback, thanks to the abundance of ranches and stables. Horse riding is very popular among the locals, so there are plenty of opportunities to adapt.

Historical sites

Wakulla County is a historical hotspot. It is home to the San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park. The Florida state park is built around a Spanish colonial fort that the English, the Americans, and the Confederacy later used. This is a great place to bring the kids for an educational trip.

The Spanish built the park in 1753, a rich historical artifact. Apart from the endless educational value it provides tourists; it is also an excellent spot for hiking on foot or horseback.

Great Hispanic cuisine

In Crawfordville, the county seat of Wakulla County, you'll have the pick of the litter for eateries and fine dining.

A popular spot is Zaxby's, a family-style restaurant serving chicken wings, sandwiches, and simple salads in an offbeat atmosphere that lets you blend in and enjoy the meal.

Lovers of Latin cuisine are served by the affordably priced Mama Chucha's Café, which offers a decent breakfast menu along with Mexican and Latin American favorites.

Heavy's BBQ is the go-to barbeque place for most locals around Crawfordville, and with grilled meats of all varieties available here, it's a pretty good place to visit when you're in the mood.

Bottom Line

Wakulla County is a great place to raise a family. It might be cheaper to purchase in this region if you're in the market for a new house, thanks to Florida Housing's mortgage loans and down payment assistance programs.

This historical location offers numerous child-friendly activities, scenic natural environments, a robust education system, and affordable housing options. Renters can easily take advantage of FHA loans to acquire low-interest, low down payment mortgages and down payment assistance loans of up to $10,000.

Borrowers may qualify for FHA loans with down payments as low as 3.5% to 10%, even with a troubled financial history.

Having money in a bank account during the loan approval process is essential. It is imperative to ensure that any cash sums you have are deposited 60 days before your application process. Lenders must see a paper trail to verify that your income is legitimate.

Due to the low-interest rates, FHA loans must be insured to protect the lender, which introduces monthly insurance premiums. These premiums are usually paid annually and upfront, together with the closing costs.

Down payment assistance loans like the FL HLP can also be rolled into your existing loan payments to lower the barrier of entry for new homeowners. Buying a home in Wakulla County, Florida, is a lot easier thanks to the low-down payment options offered by the Florida Housing Administration.

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!