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25 Florida First-Time Home Buyer Grants & Programs | 2024

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Did you know that tens of thousands of Florida first-time home buyers will receive $35,000 in assistance for down payments and closing costs this year?

And that's from just one grant.

Our guide explores 25 first-time home buyer grants and programs available in Florida in 2024.

Learn how much financial aid you can receive, what you need to qualify, and check your eligibility.




Requirements for First-Time Home Buyer Grants & Programs

Understand that you, a first-time buyer in Florida, can access 25 grants and programs that may save you thousands of dollars buying your first home.

These include cash grants, tax credits, and reduced mortgage rates.

While each of these grants and programs have unique terms, the general qualifications include:

  • Being a first-time home buyer according to the program's definition.

  • Completing a home buyer education course.

  • Adhering to specified income and purchase price limits.

  • Purchasing a property in an approved area.

  • Using the home as your primary residence.


A large board with title Home Buyer Grants and Programs in Florida


Florida Hometown Heroes Program

  • Up to $35,000 in assistance for down payments and closing costs.

  • Lower first mortgage interest rate for eligible borrowers.

  • Over 100,000,000 in funding from the state of Florida.

Requirements

  • Must be a first-time homebuyer.

  • Must be employed in or serving the community where you intend to purchase the home.

  • Meet certain income limits based on household size and location.

  • Have a credit score of at least 620.

  • Complete a homebuyer education course.


FHA Loan Program

  • Lower minimum down payment (as low as 3.5%).

  • More accessible for buyers with lower credit scores than conventional loans.

  • Allows for higher debt-to-income ratios, providing more flexibility in qualifying for a mortgage.

  • Potential for a lower interest rate.

Requirements

  • Must meet FHA credit score requirements.

  • Purchase a home that meets FHA property standards.

  • Pay mortgage insurance premiums.


Miami-Dade Advocacy Trust Grant

  • Up to $28,500 in a no-interest, no-payment loan for down payment and closing costs.

  • The loan is forgiven after 20 years, provided you continue to occupy the home as your primary residence.

Requirements

  • Must be a first-time homebuyer in Miami-Dade County.

  • Contribute your own funds toward the purchase.

  • Complete a homebuyer education course.

  • Meet income and purchase price limits based on household size.


Hallandale Beach Community Grant

  • Up to $100,000 for down payment and closing costs.

  • No-interest loan, forgivable after maintaining the property as your primary residence for a minimum of 10 years.

Requirements

  • Must invest $2,000 of your own funds toward the down payment.

  • Eligible properties must be located within the designated reinvestment area and pass a home inspection.


Own a Home Opportunity Grant Program

  • Up to 5% of the total loan amount, which can be applied towards a down payment or closing costs.

  • Broad eligibility across several Florida counties.

Requirements

  • Must meet specific financial criteria, including adhering to income and purchase price limits.

  • Have a credit score of at least 640.

  • Eligible properties include single-family homes, condominiums, and townhouses.


Own a Home Opportunity Program

  • Up to $7,500 in assistance for down payments and closing costs in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Lee, or Sarasota counties.

  • Up to $10,000 in assistance in Palm Beach County.

  • Zero-interest, deferred loan.

Requirements

  • Must be a first-time homebuyer.

  • Meet income and purchase price limits based on household size and location.

  • Complete a homebuyer education course.


The Good Neighbor Next Door (GNND) Program

  • 50% discount off the list price of homes located in designated revitalization areas.

  • Encourages community revitalization and homeownership.

Requirements

  • Must be employed full-time as a teacher, law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical technician (EMT).

  • Agree to live in the property as your sole residence for at least 36 months.

  • The home must be located in a HUD-designated revitalization area and be a single-family residence.


HOME Homebuyers Program

  • Up to $12,500 in down payment and closing cost assistance as a zero-interest deferred loan.

  • The loan is deferred until the home is sold, refinanced, or the mortgage is paid off.

Requirements

  • Must be a first-time homebuyer in Escambia County or Pensacola.

  • Homes must be built after 1978 and adhere to HOME price limits.

  • Meet income limits based on household size.

  • Complete a homebuyer education course.


SHIP First Time Homebuyers Program

  • Up to $25,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance as a zero-interest deferred loan.

  • The loan is forgiven after a specified period, typically 10-15 years, provided you maintain the home as your primary residence.

  • Broad definition of a first-time buyer, including those who haven't owned a home in the last three years.

Requirements

  • Must meet income limits based on household size.

  • Complete a homebuyer education course.

  • Secure a primary mortgage through a participating lender.

  • Eligible properties include single-family homes, condominiums, and townhouses located within Pensacola or Escambia County that meet safety and habitability standards.


VA Mortgage

  • 0 down payment and 100% mortgage guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

  • No mortgage insurance required.

  • Minimum credit score requirement of 620.

  • Competitive interest rates, often lower than conventional mortgage rates.

Requirements

  • Must be an active-duty military member, veteran, or surviving spouse.

  • Served a minimum term of active duty or have been honorably discharged.

  • Surviving spouses of veterans who died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-connected disability may also be eligible.


Panama City Grant

  • Up to $50,000 to cover closing costs, down payments, and mortgage payments.

  • The loan is forgiven after a specified period, typically 10-20 years, provided you maintain the home as your primary residence.

  • Accommodates a diverse range of home types to ensure broad accessibility.

Requirements

  • Must be a first-time homebuyer.

  • The purchase price of the property must not exceed $300,000.

  • Meet income limits based on household size.

  • Complete a homebuyer education course.

  • Secure a primary mortgage through a participating lender and contribute a minimum of $500 toward the purchase.

  • Eligible properties include single-family homes, condominiums, and townhouses located within Panama City limits that meet safety and habitability standards.


USDA Mortgage

  • 0 down payment and 100% mortgage supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for homes in rural areas.

  • Allows 100% financing with no down payment for buyers with a minimum credit score of 580.

  • Offers the most affordable low-down-payment mortgage rates, resulting in lower monthly payments and significant savings.

  • Flexible credit guidelines.

Requirements

  • Must meet income limits based on household size and location.

  • Property must be located in a designated rural area and be used as your primary residence.

  • Eligible properties include single-family homes, condominiums, and manufactured homes that meet USDA safety and habitability standards.


FHFA First-Time Home Buyer Discount

  • Automatic mortgage rate discounts of up to 1.75 percentage points on conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.

  • Reduces monthly mortgage payments by up to 20%, making homeownership more affordable.

  • Discount amounts vary depending on credit score, down payment, property type, and loan program.

Requirements

  • Must be a first-time homebuyer.

  • Utilize a conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

  • Have an income at or below the average household income for your area.


Dare to Own the Dream

  • Up to $40,000 in assistance for down payment and closing costs.

  • Deferred-payment loan that is completely forgiven after 10 years of ownership and occupancy.

  • Collaboration with city-approved counseling agencies, loan officers, and real estate agents for comprehensive support.

Requirements

  • Must be a first-time homebuyer (haven't owned a home in the past three years).

  • Meet income limits based on household size.

  • Complete a homebuyer education course.

  • Contribute a personal financial contribution toward the purchase, with the minimum amount varying based on income and household size.

  • Eligible properties must be within Tampa city limits, pass a city inspection, and meet purchase price limits based on property type and income.


East Tampa CRA Down Payment Assistance Program

  • Up to $50,000 in assistance for first-time homebuyers purchasing within the East Tampa community reinvestment area.

  • Zero-interest loan for down payment costs, forgiven after the home remains your primary residence for seven years.

Requirements

  • Must be a first-time homebuyer.

  • Meet income limits based on household size.

  • Complete a homebuyer education course.

  • Secure a primary mortgage through a participating lender and contribute a minimum of $1,000 toward the purchase.

  • Eligible properties include single-family homes, condominiums, and townhouses located within the East Tampa CRA boundaries that meet safety and habitability standards.


HomeReady

  • Lower rates and costs, along with a 3% down payment option.

  • Accessible option for buyers with a minimum FICO score of 620.

  • $500 credit for closing costs when buying a HomePath property.

  • HomePath Ready Buyer program offers a 3% cash contribution to cover mortgage closing expenses.

  • Flexible underwriting guidelines, including the use of non-traditional credit sources and income from non-occupant borrowers.

Requirements

  • Must meet income limits based on household size and location.

  • Property must be used as your primary residence.

  • Eligible properties include single-family homes, condominiums, and townhouses.


Fannie Mae's Standard 97% LTV Loan

  • Allows financing up to 97% of the home purchase with just a 3% down payment.

  • Gift funds can be used toward the down payment and closing costs.

  • Allows for a higher debt-to-income ratio than some other loan programs.

Requirements

  • At least one borrower must be a first-time homebuyer.

  • Minimum FICO score of 620.

  • Meet debt-to-income ratio requirements.

  • Property must be a single-family home, condominium, or townhouse and be used as your primary residence.


Home Possible

  • Allows a 3% down payment.

  • Provides reduced mortgage rates and costs, including fixed-rate and adjustable-rate loan options.

  • Flexible sources of funds for the down payment and closing costs, including gift funds, grants, and community second programs.

  • Flexible underwriting guidelines, such as allowing for a higher debt-to-income ratio and the use of non-traditional credit sources.

  • Allows for the inclusion of income from non-occupant borrowers, which can help multi-generational households qualify for a larger loan amount.

Requirements

  • Must meet income limits based on household size and location.

  • Property must be used as your primary residence.

  • Eligible properties include single-family homes, condominiums, and manufactured homes.

  • Minimum FICO score of 660.


The National Homebuyers Fund

  • Offers cash grants up to 5% of the purchase price.

  • Two types of grants are available: the NHF Down Payment Assistance Grant and the NHF Closing Cost Assistance Grant.

  • Down Payment Assistance Grant provides up to 5% of the purchase price to be used toward the down payment.

  • Closing Cost Assistance Grant provides up to 5% of the purchase price to be used toward closing costs.

Requirements

  • Must commit to living in the home as your primary residence for at least five years.

  • Meet income limits based on household size and location.

  • Eligible properties include single-family homes, condominiums, and townhouses.

  • Cannot apply directly; only your mortgage company can apply on your behalf.


Forgivable Mortgages

  • Can be canceled after meeting certain conditions, such as making regular payments for an agreed-upon period.

  • Encourage buyers to stay in their homes and invest in their communities long-term.

  • Provide a significant amount of financial assistance without the worry of repayment if program requirements are met.

Requirements

  • Typically must meet income limits based on household size and location.

  • Property must be used as your primary residence.

  • Eligible properties may include single-family homes, condominiums, and townhouses, depending on the specific program.

  • Must reside in the home and meet payment obligations for the agreed-upon term, usually five years.


Discounted Homes from HUD

  • Offers repossessed homes to first-time buyers at a 50% discount.

  • Encourages professionals like teachers, firefighters, law enforcement officials, and emergency medical technicians to live in and invest in the communities they serve.

  • Favorable financing terms, including low down payment options and the ability to finance closing costs.

Requirements

  • Must be a teacher, firefighter, law enforcement official, or emergency medical technician.

  • Commit to living in the home as your primary residence for at least 36 months.

  • Eligible homes are located in designated revitalization areas and are typically single-family residences.

  • Homes are sold as-is, so careful inspection and budgeting for repairs are necessary.


Down Payment Loans

  • Replace down payment with borrowed cash, making homeownership more accessible for those without a large down payment saved.

  • Interest rates are usually in the one-percent range and amortized over 30 years for ultra-low payments.

  • It can significantly reduce the amount of money needed to save for a down payment.

Requirements

  • Check with your lender before applying to ensure they are comfortable with your financial stake in the property.

  • Some mortgage programs do not allow down payment loans.

  • Contact your municipal government's housing administration for local connections and information on available programs.


Deferred Mortgages

  • Allow you to delay repayment until you sell or refinance your home.

  • Can provide up to $25,000 in funding for first-time homebuyers who meet certain criteria.

  • Do not impact your debt-to-income ratio, making it easier to qualify for a primary mortgage and achieve homeownership.

  • Provide a significant amount of financial assistance without the worry of repayment until the property is sold or refinanced.

Requirements

  • Must be a first-time homebuyer.

  • Have an income below the area average.

  • Have a credit history with a track record of on-time payments.

  • Meet income limits based on household size and location.

  • Property must be used as your primary residence.

  • Eligible properties may include single-family homes, condominiums, and townhouses, depending on the specific program.


$15,000 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

  • Offers a refundable tax credit of up to $15,000 for first-time homebuyers.

  • Can be claimed in addition to other tax deductions and credits related to homeownership, such as the mortgage interest deduction and credits for energy-efficient home improvements.

  • The refundable nature of the credit means you can receive the full credit amount even if you don't owe $15,000 in taxes.

Requirements

  • Must be purchasing your first home.

  • Meet certain income limits based on household size and location.

  • Use the home as your primary residence.

  • Applicable for homes bought after December 31, 2020.


$25,000 Down Payment Toward Equity Cash Grant

  • Offers up to $20,000 for first-generation buyers, plus an additional $5,000 for buyers from disadvantaged backgrounds.

  • Covers down payments, closing costs, and real estate taxes and enables lower mortgage rates.

  • It can be used in conjunction with other homeownership assistance programs, such as the $15,000 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit.

Requirements

  • Must be a first-generation homebuyer (your parents or legal guardians do not own a home).

  • Or must be from a disadvantaged background, such as having a low income or living in a historically underserved community.

  • Currently proposed, with expectations of reintroduction in the current Congressional session.


Florida Homebuyer Programs & Grants FAQs

We've answered some common questions that you may have while trying to pick a grant or program here:


How do I determine which Florida first-time homebuyer grant is right for me?

Consider your location, income, credit score, and the type of property you're interested in. Matching these factors with the specific requirements of each program can help narrow down your options.


Can I apply for more than one grant program at a time?

Yes, depending on the programs' rules. Some may allow combining grants for greater assistance but always check the specific eligibility requirements and restrictions.


What are the benefits of completing a home buyer education course?

Besides being a requirement for most programs, these courses provide valuable information on the home-buying process, financial planning, and homeownership responsibilities.


Are there grants available for homes outside urban areas?

Yes, programs like the USDA mortgage are specifically designed for rural areas. They offer 100% financing and low rates to encourage homeownership in less densely populated regions.


How does the definition of first-time homebuyer affect eligibility?

Most programs define a first-time homebuyer as someone who hasn't owned a home in the past three years. This broader definition allows more individuals to qualify for assistance.


What role does my credit score play in qualifying for these programs?

Your credit score can influence which programs you're eligible for and the amount of assistance you can receive. Programs typically require a minimum credit score.


Can I use these grants for any type of home?

Each program has its own restrictions on the type of properties eligible, such as single-family homes, condos, or townhouses, and some have price limits or location requirements.


What happens if I leave my home before the grant's occupancy requirement is met?

You may have to repay the grant or a portion of it, depending on the specific terms of the program. These requirements are designed to encourage long-term homeownership and community investment.


How do income and purchase price limits affect my eligibility?

These limits ensure the programs assist those most in need and vary by location and household size. Staying within these limits is crucial for qualifying for assistance.


Where can I find more information about applying for these programs?

Contact MakeFloridaYourHome today and see every grant and program you can use to make your dream of homeownership a reality.

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.

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