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Hometown Heroes Loan Program - Learn How to Get up to a $35,000 Grant in Calhoun County, Florida

Due to rising demand, housing prices in Florida are rapidly rising, and lending rates are following suit. Many Floridians, especially those who serve in areas that directly help the state's residents, struggle to save for closing expenses and a down payment on their first house.

What is the FL Hometown Heroes Loan Program?

The Florida Hometown Heroes Mortgage Program helps eligible community workforce afford homes by providing low-cost first mortgage options and substantial down payment assistance, among other perks.

Eligible full-time workforce, employed by a Florida-based employer are eligible for the program.

The loan program is made possible by the Bond Alternative (TBA)Program, which works to enhance and sustain affordable housing options.

The TBA program only considers the applicant(s)' income and first-time purchaser status. If the husband or wife is not on loan, this program doesn't consider family income or the spouse's first-time homeowner status. (The borrower(s) are the individuals named on the loan application form).

While introducing the program, the governor remarked that the state appreciated the efforts of its community workers. He referred to these people as the "backbone of the community."

He stated that one way to reward them and ensure the success of the American Dream is to help them afford homes in the communities they serve.

What are the low-cost first mortgage options?

First-time homebuyers who meet their county's income requirements may be eligible for lower-than-market interest rates on their first mortgage through the hometown heroes loan program.

Available first mortgage options include:

  • 30-year fixed-rate government-sponsored home loan (aka FL First for TBA) - Lending enterprises include the FHA, USDA-RD, and the VA.

  • The Fannie Mae Offering (aka HFA Preferred for TBA) - a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage program with reduced-cost private mortgage insurance for borrowers with AMI below 80% AMI.

  • The Freddie Mac Offering (aka HFA Advantage for TBA) - a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with cheaper private mortgage insurance for borrowers with AMI below 80%.

What is the down payment assistance?

Down payment aid (DPA) refers to financing that can help with closing costs and down payments. Many community workers do not make enough money to save for down payments on homes they want to buy.

The hometown heroes loan program offers down payment help to all who qualify for the above first mortgage options.

It's a 5 percent Second Mortgage — 5% of the first loan amount, up to a maximum of $35,000. Individuals may utilize the fund to boost their down payment and cover closing charges.

However, the DPA fund for Florida hometown heroes is neither a grant nor a forgivable debt. It is available as a zero-rate, non-amortizing second mortgage to be repaid in 30 years but may become fully due sooner.

Any remaining loan balance will be due in full in case of the following:

  • The borrower(s) refinance.
  • The borrower(s) pay off the first mortgage.
  • The borrower(s) transfer deed.
  • The borrower(s) move out of the house and no longer occupy it as their primary residence.

However, the down payment aid offered by the hometown heroes program cannot be paired with another FL Housing down payment aid program from FL Housing.

That said, it can be paired with down payment assistance from other agencies, such as SHIP, as long as the second agency assumes a third lien position.

Of course, there are many other DPA agencies out there. Most are geared toward first-time homebuyers and require a stellar FICO score and a low to medium income.

Learn about DPA initiatives in your region by speaking with an experienced local loan officer.

They should be able to help you find any local DPA grants or loan programs that can help you. You can also research to identify the current DPA programs you are eligible for.

However, not all programs adhere to the same set of requirement and some even provide grants or forgivable deferred loans.

What other assistance does the Hometown Heroes loan program provide?

Apart from reduced-cost first mortgage options and down payment assistance, the hometown heroes loan program reduces upfront fees.

The loan scheme does not impose a 1 percent upfront loan origination fee, as is standard with other FL Housing Corporation first mortgage loan packages. The advantage here is that it saves borrowers big time in upfront closing fees.

Lenders cannot charge the regular 1% origination fee imposed on other Florida Housing's first mortgage loan options. But they may charge other regular, fair, and typical origination fees.

The US Bank Home Mortgage will pay lenders a service release premium of 2.5% on all purchased hometown heroes' first mortgage loans.

Are you eligible?

If a borrower is employed full-time (must document 35+ hrs. per week) by a business located in Florida, meets Program requirements, and can credit qualify for a mortgage, many more First Time Homebuyers should be able to qualify for this program.

There will no longer be an occupational requirement.

This housing loan program is available to families earning less than 150 percent ($128,250) of the county median income.

Except for war veterans, all program participants must be full-time workforce, employed by a Florida-based employer.

What are the application requirements?

To be approved for this loan program, eligible first-time homebuyers must meet specific requirements and work with approved loan officers.

These requirements are as follows:

Be a first-time home buyer

The Hometown Heroes home financing program is designed to help community workers purchase houses in the neighborhoods they serve.

This indicates that the program is primarily for first-time homebuyers or those who haven't possessed or owned title to a home in the past three years.

Meet the income and loan limits set for the county

The hometown heroes loan program has income and loan limits.

Only families with less than 150 percent ($128,250) of the county's median income are eligible. This loan scheme solely takes into account 1003 or credit-qualifying income.

Meanwhile, the loan cap for the FHA loans is $472,030 and $726,200 for VA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac programs. USDA-RD does not have a Cap on Loan Limit.

Credit Score & DTI

All Borrowers must have a minimum FICO of 640. DU blended FICOs are not permitted. Manufactured housing and manual underwrites require a minimum 660.

Meanwhile, you require a maximum DTI of up to 50% but maximum DTI with manufactured housing is 45%.

Supporting documentation

You will have to produce these documents to prove your eligibility:

  • COPY of fully executed FL Hometown Heroes Certification Form.
  • COPY of signed, FINAL 1003.
  • COPY of VOE confirming employment of 35 hours a week or more with a Florida based employer.

Non-citizens must show proof of identity and Florida residency. They must also adhere to loan agency guidelines (FHA, USD-RD, VA, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae).

Active-duty individuals must additionally present Form 1003 and a copy of their service ID. There is no need for Military Eligibility Papers.

Military vets may be excused from the first-time homebuyer requirements if they have a valid DD-214 and honorable discharge status. Certificates of Military Eligibility are not required.

Surviving spouses of service vets may get a VA first mortgage if they produce authentic certificates of eligibility.

Create a compliance package to be submitted to the EHP Online Portal

The package must include:

  • $225 compliance review fee receipt (this fee goes to eHousingPlus).
  • Copy of your homebuyer education certificate (where applicable).
  • Copy of negotiated house contract.
  • Copy of the first mortgage signed disclosure form.
  • Copy second mortgage signed disclosure form.
  • Copy of the warranty deed.
  • For any repayment of excess gift funds at the time of closing, a copy of the gift letter will be required.

Finish a recognized homebuyer education course

Before purchasing a property, those who qualify must take a homebuyer education course recognized by the program.

The course must satisfy the Housing and Urban Development standards for homeowner education programs. Online and in-person courses are both acceptable. You cannot take a course after closing a purchase.

Homebuyer education provided by a mortgage insurer is allowed if it meets National Industry or Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requirements.

Homebuyer education course certificates of completion remain valid for two years after they are issued.

Florida Tax Exemption Benefits

One of the top benefits of using the Hometown Heroes Program is tax exemption, saving you thousands of dollars.

Under Section 420.513(1) of the Florida Statutes, this program provides an exemption from documentary stamp tax and intangible tax for first and second mortgages and notes used to secure loans for housing financed through Florida Housing's Homebuyer Programs.

This means that when you purchase a home through these programs, you won't have to pay the documentary stamp tax and intangible tax on your mortgage, saving you a substantial amount of money.

The Florida documentary stamp tax is a real estate transfer tax levied at a rate of $0.70 per $100 paid for the property in most counties, except Miami Dade, where it is $0.60 per $100.

With the Hometown Heroes Program, you can exclude this tax when you meet the program's criteria. Additionally, the Florida intangible tax, which is calculated at 2 mills per dollar of the note's just value secured by the mortgage, is also exempted.

For each $100,000 of your home purchase price, this exemption can potentially save you approximately $2,000 in documentary stamp tax and intangible tax.

Altha Florida on a Map

Where can you buy a home in Calhoun County, Florida?

The hometown heroes loan program is available throughout the county so community workers can afford to live in the communities they serve.

It's one of the cheapest Florida counties to live in. The median home cost here is $116,000 compared to the entire state's $294,900 and the country's $291,700.

For this reason, 81.4% of county residents own their homes, which is sure to increase thanks to the hometown heroes program.

With this program, you can buy new or refurbished houses, multi-family or single-family homes, program-approved condos, or manufactured homes. However, if you want to buy a house, you will need a FICO score of at least 640.

Some of the best locations to live in the county include:


  • Median listing price - $226.3K
  • Schools - Blountstown Elementary, Middle and High Schools, Calhoun Virtual Instruction Program (K - 12), and Calhoun County Adult Education Center
  • Popular neighborhoods - Marian, 32351, Quincy, Atha, and Wewahitchka


  • Median listing price - $269.5K
  • Schools - Altha Public School
  • Popular neighborhoods - Chipley, Fountain, 32428, 32421


  • Median listing price - $233.8K
  • Above-average schools - Carr Elementary & Middle School
  • Popular neighborhoods - Youngstown, 32455, Fountain, Chipley, Marianna, 32404


  • Median listing price - $89.9K
  • Schools - Faith Christian Academy
  • Popular neighborhoods - Panama City, Wewahitchka, Overstreet, Lynn Haven, 32466

Is it possible to have a cosigner?

Only the FHA and Fannie Mae's first mortgage choices permit co-signers. They are also exempt from taking a mandatory homebuyer education course. However, these individuals won't appear in the house deed.

Because these two loan schemes demand credit for loan qualification, a co-signer's income may be considered in the loan calculations.

However, the income of your co-signer may disqualify you from the low-cost mortgage insurance benefit offered by Fannie Mae to borrowers with an AMI of less than 80%.

What if this is not your first time buying a home?

The hometown heroes program generally caters to first-time homebuyers; still, you can qualify otherwise if you buy in a federally specified zone or are a military veteran.

Are you a first-time homebuyer?

Those acquiring a home for the first time can also apply for Mortgage Credit Certificates (MCC) to reduce their mortgage expense. The FL Housing Corporation doesn't offer these certificates, but the IRS does.

MCCs are federal tax credits. See, you must return the principal and interest when you take a loan. MCCs allow you to reclaim part of the interest on your loan as tax credits.

That means the more the interest you've paid, the bigger the tax credit you can claim. Usually, the max amount that can be claimed is $2000.

To be eligible for MCCs, you must meet particular income requirements and negotiate property within a sure price cap. For Florida, it's $250,000.

However, the application process is a breeze, plus FICO scores as low as 640 are acceptable. You must fill out the Mortgage Interest Credit: IRS 8396 form.

How do you apply for the program in Calhoun County?

It would be best if you dealt with a program-approved loan officer. If you fit the program requirements, contact an approved loan officer and begin the application process. The loan officers will interview you and then assist you with the application.

You will not email any files directly to the FL Housing Corporation. The lender will reserve cash in the program for you based on your signed home purchase contract and signed Form 1003.

All funds in the program must conform to a 60-day delivery date after reservation. Any loans secured after this date may be subject to repricing costs and penalties for late delivery. These fees will be deducted from the issuer's SRP at purchase.

Loans that will not have been purchased or delivered by their due date must be terminated and re-reserved. If you have to change the property, the loan must be canceled and re-reserved.


Calhoun County eligible community workers are encouraged to apply for the hometown heroes loan program. The loan scheme is managed by the Florida Housing Corporation and is funded by taxpayers.

First-time homebuyers can take advantage of the program's lower first mortgage rates, upfront fees, closing costs, and down payment assistance.

Borrowers may use the funds to purchase primary residences in their service areas.

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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