HFA Advantage Military Loan Program
For many years, veterans and military servicemen (and women) seeking to set up roots in Florida were locked out of homeownership due to high upfront costs and closing costs. However, this bleak situation has changed considerably since the Sunshine State introduced the “Salute Our Soldiers” program.
Through this program, members of the military and veterans can receive home financing assistance through various Mortgage products offered by Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FL Housing). Eligible veterans and military personnel can qualify for low-interest First Mortgage loans, down payment assistance (DPA), and closing cost assistance through second mortgages.
One of the best First Mortgage products offered under the “Salute of Soldiers” program is the HFA Advantage First Mortgage conventional loan which allows military members and veterans to purchase a primary residence without dealing with barriers such as upfront payments. Read on to find out what this program is all about and how you can benefit from it.
HFA Advantage First Mortgage Loan Overview
The HFA Advantage First Mortgage is a fixed-rate, 30-year conventional low-interest loan that is designed to help low to medium-income earners become homeowners without having to save up for many years to raise downpayment. HFA Advantage First Mortgage loans are offered by Housing Finance Agencies (or HFAs) to prospective homebuyers whose income is less than or equal to 80% of the Average Median Income (AMI) as determined by Freddie Mac.
In Florida, the guidelines for HFA Advantage conventional loans are set by FL Housing, which works collaboratively with the US Bank and various approved lenders to ensure veterans and military service members who require home financing aid benefit from the program. Borrowers with an income greater than 80% of the Average Median Income may also qualify for HFA Advantage Loans, although they are subject to standard mortgage insurance rates.
The HFA Advantage First Mortgage is just one of two conventional loans for TBA offered by FL Housing. The other option is the HFA Preferred First Mortgage (Fannie Mae). These two home financing products bear many similarities. For instance, both HFA Advantage First Mortgage and HFA Preferred First Mortgage loans can be combined with down payment assistance through second mortgages provided by FL Assist, FL HLP Second Mortgage program, and HFA PLUS 3%, 4% & 5% Second Mortgage. Likewise, both HFA Advantage and HFA Preferred loans have a minimum downpayment of 3%
With that being said, HFA Advantage and HFA Preferred First Mortgage TBA loans differ in several ways. For example, while an HFA Preferred loan can be used to finance a property with up to 4 units, an HFA Advantage loan is only usable on a single-unit property. Considering this and many other differences between these two mortgage products, it is essential to do due diligence and understand the hallmarks of each when deciding on the right housing finance option for you.
How Do I Qualify For FL HFA Advantage First Mortgage Program?
In general, the criteria for eligibility for HFA Advantage First Mortgage loans vary depending on the state you reside in. While the rules and guidelines are similar across the country, the threshold for qualifying for these mortgage products may differ from one state to the next. Therefore, you must understand the minimum eligibility requirements of your state’s HFA when considering whether to apply for this loan.
If you’re looking to purchase a primary residence in the State of Florida using an HFA Advantage loan, here are some of the conditions you’ll need to satisfy to be eligible:
As noted previously, HFA Advantage Freddie Mac loans are designed to make housing financing easier for low- to moderate-income borrowers. A borrower’s family income must not exceed the Florida Housing Finance Corporation’s income threshold to be deemed eligible for the HFA Advantage conventional loan. As such, the income restriction condition ensures the HFA Advantage First Mortgage program is available to those who most need it.
It’s important to note that the income restriction varies based on where you want to buy a house. In general, the income ceiling in federally designated areas is more significant than in other parts of the country.
First Time Homebuyer Requirement (FTHB)
To be eligible for the Florida HFA Advantage First Mortgage program, a borrower (and any occupants in their home over the age of 18) must not have owned a principal property in the three years before applying for the HFA Advantage conventional loan.
With that being said, veterans who have served in the navy, military, or airforce are not subject to this restriction. They may still be eligible for the loan even when purchasing a second property. Nevertheless, they must still satisfy all of the other conditions in the Mortgagor Affidavit to qualify for the program.
Due to natural catastrophes or slow economic growth, the federal government designates some localities to need further development assistance. As a result, potential homebuyers looking to buy a second home in certain areas can apply for home financing through the HFA Advantage First Mortgage program. Similarly, borrowers who want to buy a house in a federally designated targeted area do not have to be first-time homebuyers eligible for the FL HFA Advantage First Mortgage loan.
A borrower must have a minimum FICO score of 640 and a DTI of not less than 50% to qualify for the HFA Advantage First Mortgage loan. The product has a maximum loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 97 percent and a maximum combined loan-to-value (CLTV) ratio of 105 percent. The CLTV measures the degree of default risk where several loans are employed. These figures predict if a homebuyer is likely to default on their loan.
Acquisition / Purchase Price Limit
This criterion places a ceiling on the prices of properties bought using an HFA Advantage conventional loan. The acquisition price limit is usually determined based on the county in which the property is situated. Put another way, and the FL HFA Advantage First Mortgage loan cannot be used to pay more than the maximum amount allowed for different types of property in Florida counties.
Other Considerations For HFA Advantage First Mortgage Conventional Loan
Apart from satisfying the abovementioned minimum qualifying standards, there are some guidelines and regulations that you must be familiar with when applying for an HFA Advantage conventional loan. These are:
Home Buyer Education
Completing a pre-purchase homebuyer course is a requisite for any borrower seeking an HFA Advantage conventional loan. The program must satisfy the standards set by the National Industry Criteria for Homeownership Education and Counseling or the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD).
Participating lenders are charged with providing this education course either or in partnership with a mortgage insurance business. Certificates of completion are valid for two years from the date of completion.
Non-occupants are typically not authorized to co-sign on behalf of a borrower on an HFA Advantage conventional loan. Non-occupying co-borrowers are also not allowed to sign, although anybody above the age of 18 who is both an occupier and a co-borrower is entitled to do so. The non-purchasing spouse and any adult occupants named on the deed must, however, be first-time purchasers.
Borrowers seeking home financing assistance through the HFA Advantage conventional loan program must adhere to the Freddie Mac Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) citizenship criteria and provide proof of citizenship. Likewise, they must also show that they have the ability and desire to reside permanently and legally in Florida.
Loan to Value (LTV) Ratios
Various property types can be purchased using the FL HFA Preferred First Mortgage conventional loan. However, unlike HFA Preferred loans which allow borrowers to buy properties of up to 4 units, FL HFA Advantage First Mortgage loans can only be used to purchase single-unit residences.
The LTV requirements for each of these property types are different. For 2-4 unit dwellings, the LTV cannot exceed 95%, and a 3% minimum borrower contribution is needed. LTVs for condos, on the other hand, might range from 95 percent to 97 percent if US Bank authorizes them.
Like the HFA Preferred First Mortgage program, HFA Advantage loans cannot be used to purchase mobile homes or manufactured housing.
Lenders are allowed a 60-day acquisition deadline while completing FL HFA Advantage loans. Any loan that is not available for purchase after 60 days will be charged a 25 basis point (0.25 percent) extension fee, and a 30-day extension will be given automatically after that. Late purchase penalties and re-pricing expenses apply to any loan obtained after the maximum delivery date. All of these expenses are deducted from the lender’s service release price (SRP) at loan acquisition.
HFA Advantage First Mortgage Fees
You should be aware of several fees when applying for an HFA Advantage conventional loan. These are:
- Tax Service Fee of $80
- Compliance Fee of $125
- Funding Fee of $200
- Realtor Commission (may vary)
- Realtor Transaction Fee of $400
How To Apply For The HFA Advantage First Mortgage Loan
Suppose you’ve considered all of your housing financing alternatives and determined that an HFA Advantage loan is the best option. In that case, the first step is to visit the HFA website and read the qualifying requirements and the additional terms and conditions. This will assist you in determining whether you are eligible for the loan.
Then, to begin the loan application procedure, contact the HFA. If the agent you’re chatting with feels you fulfill the qualifying requirements, they’ll email you the application paperwork to complete. After that, you’ll need to locate a mortgage lender prepared to advance you the funds.
It is important to note that HFA Advantage loans are only available via partnering lenders that the HFA has recognized. The list of lenders is available on the HFA website, so make sure you analyze lender ratings and reviews to help you narrow down your options.
Once you have found a suitable lender, you can start the preapproval and application process. When applying for an HFA Advantage First Mortgage loan, be prepared to submit all of your financial information, including pay stubs and tax returns. Your prospective lender will use these to determine whether or not you qualify.
FL HFA Advantage First Mortgage Down Payment Assistance
Each HFA has its guidelines for the down payment support it offers to qualified applicants. As such, the generosity of your state or area will decide how much you receive and if you are eligible.
For potential homeowners looking for down payment help, Florida Housing’s HFA Advantage First Mortgage provides three alternatives. They are as follows:
This program offers up to $7,500 in down payment and closing cost assistance through a 0%, non-amortizing, 30-year second mortgage. Payment is postponed until the borrower sells, refinances, pays off the first mortgage, transfers deeds, or no longer resides in the property as their principal residence, payment is due and payable in full.
FL Homeownership Loan Program (HLP)
FL HLP Second Mortgage program provides up to $10,000 worth of down payment and closing cost assistance through a 3%, amortizing, 15-year second mortgage. This second loan has a monthly payment factored in the borrower’s DTI. Any outstanding principal amount must be repaid in full if the property is sold or refinanced, the initial mortgage is paid off, the deed is transferred, or the borrower no longer uses the property as their primary residence.
HFA Advantage PLUS Second Mortgage
Through this program, borrowers receive downpayment and closing cost assistance amounting to 3%, 4%, or 5% of the total loan amount offered as a 0% non-amortizing 5-year forgivable second mortgage. This is forgiven at a rate of 20% annually over the 5-year term.
Suppose the borrower refinances, pays off the initial mortgage, transfers the deed, or no longer resides in the property as their primary residence. In that case, any unpaid principal amount must be returned in full. Any outstanding principal amount will be forgiven for active-duty military members who are forced to relocate and sell their property due to their service.
Advantages and Disadvantages of HFA Advantage First Mortgage Loans
Like other home financing mortgage products, HFA Advantage conventional loans have their fair share of benefits and downsides that you need to be aware of before applying. Here is an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of HFA Advantage First Mortgage loans:
Low Down Payment - The main benefit of HFA Advantage loans is that they allow people with low to moderate incomes to become homeowners without making large out-of-pocket payments for upfront costs. HFA programs provide 30-year fixed-rate conventional loans with a meager 3 percent down payment.
Low Monthly Insurance (MI) Premiums - Although borrowers of HFA Advantage First Mortgage loan must pay monthly premiums, the amount is pretty minimal and is generally canceled if home equity reaches 20%.
- Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance - Borrowers who qualify for the HFA Advantage conventional loan are automatically eligible for down payment and closing cost assistance through a second loan. This is made available by FL Housing through the FL Assist, FL HLP Second Mortgage, and FL HLP PLUS Second Mortgage programs in the State of Florida.
Guidelines and Qualifications May Be Inconsistent - The laws and regulations regulating HFA Advantage First Mortgage loans may differ depending on your residence. This means you must conduct extensive research to see whether you fulfill all of the minimum standards and different rules for qualification in your state.
- Down Payment Assistance Is Not Uniform in All States - Each state’s HFA establishes its benchmark for the type and amount of down payment that qualified applicants may obtain. This means that certain conditions may be more generous regarding down payment assistance than others.
FL Housing recognizes the need for veterans and military personnel to enjoy the comfort and peace of mind that comes with homeownership. The Salute, Our Soldiers program, couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.
Thanks to the HFA Advantage Military loan program, veterans now have the opportunity to become homeowners in Florida without having to work themselves to death to raise upfront fees. The best part is that those who qualify for the HFA Advantage conventional loans can also enjoy various forms of down payment and closing cost assistance through the second mortgage programs made available under the HFA Advantage First Mortgage program.
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