Skip to content
Fact Checked by Experts

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

Highlands County is an excellent option for retirees, young professionals, and families for its proximity to large cities. But if you're looking to buy a house here, you may need some help from the government. That's where Hometown Heroes program comes in!

Hometown Heroes is a government-backed loan program that offers up to $35,000 in grants for eligible community workforce buying homes in Highlands County and surrounding areas.

The program is designed primarily to help an eligible full-time workers receive long-term financial assistance as they seek to own a home in Highlands county, Florida.

If you're eligible for this program and want to learn more about how it works, we've got all the information you need right here!

Hometown Heroes Loan Program

This year, Florida's housing prices are soaring. While this is excellent news for the real estate market and local economy, it's not so great for hardworking community workforce.

But that's where the Florida Housing Hometown Heroes Program comes in. The Hometown Heroes Loan Program provides funding for an eligible full-time workforce looking to buy their first home. And since it's from the state Legislature, it's free—no fees or interest!

So if you're an eligible community worker (and first-time homebuyers), you will get assistance with down payment and closing costs. You can apply now if you qualify!

Requirements For The Program

If a borrower is employed full-time (must document 35+ hrs. per week) by a business located in FL, 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. Eligibility requirements for this program includes:

  • Borrower(s) must be employed full-time by a Florida-based employer and work 35 or more hours per week.

  • The property the borrower(s) is purchasing will be their primary residence and they will be a Florida resident.

  • The borrower(s) are first-time homebuyers which means, a borrower(s) must have had no present ownership Interest in a principal residence at any time during the three-year period prior to the date on which the Mortgage Loan is executed.

  • Borrower(s) must not exceed the maximum Income & Loan Limit requirements, household size, for the county in which the property is being purchased.

  • Have a minimum credit score of 640 (or higher) and maximum DTI of 50%.

What assistance does this program offer?

The Florida Hometown Heroes mortgage program provides eligible community workers with lower than market rates on an FHA, VA, RD, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac first mortgage.

That's right! You can get your dream home at an affordable price—and even get a down payment and closing cost assistance to help with that dream.

Also, borrowers can receive up to 5% of the first mortgage loan amount (maximum of $35,000) in down payment and closing cost assistance.

But wait—there's more! A 0%, non-amortizing, 30-year deferred second mortgage. That means you don't have to make any payments on it during that time—until you sell your house or refinance your first mortgage.

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.

Best Places To Buy A Home In Highlands County, Florida

Highlands County is a gorgeous county in the Florida Panhandle, known for its natural beauty and proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. It's also where you can find some of the best places to buy a home.

Homes in Highlands County offer various options, from those with fantastic water views to ones with plenty of space for family gatherings or parties. You'll be able to find what you're looking for in this area—and then some!

If you're looking for something more specific than just "a home," though, Highlands County has those too. Here are some of the best places to buy a home in Highlands County:

Lake Placid

If you like your life to be as close to paradise as possible, Lake Placid is your place. This town has everything you could ask for: a small population (1,907), a cool name that sounds like it belongs in Hawaii, murals everywhere (over fifty!), and a festival called the Caladium Festiva.

Besides, there are great schools, low crime rates, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. There are so many things to do that we thought we'd tell you about them here.

You'll love its proximity to major cities and our relaxed suburban atmosphere because it's just two hours away from Orlando and Miami. That's a drive that's easy enough to make over the weekend or whenever you feel like getting away from it all.

This is just a small town where everyone knows everyone, but they make up for it by being very close-knit and friendly. Lake Placid might not be as big as other towns, but we have more fun!

Highlands County is the best place for a home in Florida if you're looking to live in a town where you can get jobs, golf, fish all day, and retire at night.


If you're looking for a sweet little Central Florida town full of friendly people and great activities, Sebring is your spot. This community is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the state, excellent schools, tons of fun things to do, and plenty of green space.

Sebring has a population of 10,377 people, and it's located between Lake Okeechobee and the Atlantic Ocean. You'll find some of the best golf courses in Florida and fishing spots perfect for anyone who enjoys spending time on or around the water.

And if you love theater, this community has got it: excellent local theater productions featuring talented actors and musicians and concerts at South Florida State College (about 20 minutes north).

The world-famous Sebring International Racetrack hosts events all year long—and their 12-Hour race each March is one not to miss! This community also offers tours through Highlands Hammock State Park—an awe-inspiring experience with wildlife.

Avon Park

This suburb is filled with families and retirees alike. Residents are generally liberal, and the community has a lot of activities year-round for people of all ages.

There's even a mall in downtown Avon Park that hosts fun events throughout the year—from festivals to concerts. The library is a great resource center with available programs in the community.

Schools have football games, basketball games, baseball games, and volleyball games open to the public as well—it's a great way to get involved with your kids' school!

Avon Park may be a small town, but it's got plenty of big things in store for families like yours!

People walk along a wooden path in the forest in Florida

Moving To Highlands County, Florida - What You Need To Know

Moving to Highlands County, Florida, is a big decision. You're going to be trading your old hometown for a new one, and that means you'll have to find all sorts of new things to do, people to hang out with, and local businesses that you can count on.

So what's the best way to ensure that your move is successful? The answer is simple - research! Before you even start packing up your boxes, take some time to learn about the area. This guide will give you everything you need to know about moving to Highlands County, Florida.

From how much it costs, what jobs are available in the area, and when the best time of year is for moving there.

The Cost Of Living in Highlands County, Florida

When you're looking for a place to settle down and start your family, it can be tough to find an affordable area with everything you want. Luckily, Highlands County is the perfect place for you and your family!

With a cost of living index of 82.8, this area is on the lower end of the spectrum than other Florida counties. The state's cost of living index is 102.8—which is still high compared to the national index of 100—but it's not as expensive as some other parts of Florida.

The Weather

Highlands County is a sunny place where the sun shines all year round. But if you're looking for a break from the Florida heat, you can always head to Highlands County in February and March. These months are some of the most pleasant of the year, with temperatures ranging from 70-85 degrees.

Of course, if you're looking for something more extreme—and we mean extreme—then July is when you want to be in Highlands County.

July is one of the hottest months of the year, with an average high temperature of 92.5 degrees (which ranks it as one of the hottest places in Florida).

And if you're lucky enough to visit Highlands County in November, you will experience some gorgeous weather: cool breezes and dry air!

The humidity here has been described as stifling in August and July, so visiting during this time might not be your best bet.

Voting And Political Views

Voting is a big deal in Highlands County, Florida.

According to the latest census data, 66.8% of residents voted for the Republican Party in the last presidential election, compared to just 32.4% who voted Democrat. The Republican Party has won every single presidential election since 2000 in Highlands County.

So if you're someone who wants to see a more conservative government at work, you might want to consider moving to Highlands County—or at least voting there!

Crime Rates

It's safe to say that Highlands County is a pretty safe place to live.

That's not to say you shouldn't be careful—there's always a chance that you could get mugged or robbed, and there are certainly some areas of town where you'll want to watch your back more than others.

But if you stay aware of your surroundings and use common sense, there's no reason you should have any problems at all!

The violent crime rate here is 29.2 per 1,000 residents. (The U.S. average is 22.7.) That means you'll have to look out for yourself just a little more than the average American, but we're not talking about the Wild West or anything like that. You'll probably be fine if you keep your head up and stay aware of your surroundings!

As for property crime, Highlands County has a rate of 57.6 per 1,000 residents—which is pretty good! (The U.S. average is 35.4.) So go ahead and relax! Your stuff will be safe here in Highlands County unless you leave it lying around on the ground!


Highlands County is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. One of the main reasons for this is its schools. The public and private institutions in Highlands County are some of the best in the state—and they're also very affordable.

The average cost per student at a Highlands County school is $9,063 per year (compared to $12,383 on average across the U.S.). This includes tuition, fees, books, transportation costs, and other applicable expenses.

There are 15 pupils per teacher in Highlands County (compared to 16 nationwide) and 497 children per counselor (compared to 415 nationwide).

Availability Of Jobs

Highlands County is an affordable place to live where you can enjoy the space to grow your career and build a life; this county got just what you need.

With an average salary of $35,911 per year, Highlands County is an excellent choice for anyone looking to step up their game without breaking the bank.

Highlands County has been growing steadily over the past few years—and we think it's going to keep growing. The average employment growth rate over the past year was 0.2%!

That might not seem like much, but when you consider how much more room there is to grow in a small town like this one, we'd say that's pretty impressive!

Housing Costs

If you're looking for a new home in the Highlands County, Florida area, you should know that the median home cost is $173,000. But don't let that deter you!

Home appreciation in Highlands County has been 86.6% over the last 10 years and is up 17.3% from 2017 to 2018 alone.

And if you're thinking about renting? There are plenty of homes available for rent in Highlands County - 1.8% of houses and apartments are rentable. The average age of homes in Highlands County is 31 years old. So if it's time for an upgrade, consider this area!

A list of places in Highlands County, Florida

Here is a list of Highlands county's significant towns, neighborhoods, and other populated places under the Hometown Heroes housing loan in Florida.

  • Avon Park
  • Lake Placid
  • Lorida
  • Sebring
  • Venus

Other populated places

  • Alpine
  • Archbold
  • Avon MH Park
  • Avon Park Lakes
  • Bairs Den
  • Bear Hollow
  • Bonnie Brae MH Estates
  • Braswells Heritage Estates MH Park
  • Brentwood MH Park
  • Brighton
  • Buttonwood Bay MH Park
  • Childs
  • Cornwell
  • Crawfords Trailer Park
  • De Soto City
  • Desoto MH Park
  • Dinner Lake Haven MH
  • Fort Basinger
  • Francis I Mobile Estates
  • Hagners Trailer Park
  • Hammock Mobile Estates MH Park
  • Hen Scratch
  • Hickory Grove Trailer Park
  • Hicoria
  • Highland Lakes
  • Highland Wheel Estates MH Park
  • Highlands Park Estates
  • Istokpoga
  • Jackson Creek Mobile Estates
  • Josephine Lakeside Park MH Park
  • Kissimmee River Fishing Resort MH Park
  • Kuhlman
  • Lake Bonnet Village MH Park
  • Lake Gardens MH Park
  • Lake Glenada MH Park
  • Lake Letta MH Court
  • Lake Redwater MH Park
  • Lake Viola Trailer Park
  • Lakemont
  • Lakeshore MH Park
  • Lakeside Village MH Park
  • Leisure Acres MH Park
  • Lorida
  • Mallard MH Park
  • Marina Cove MH Park
  • Marland
  • Negrotown Knoll
  • Oak Gardens MH Park
  • Oak Ridge MH Park
  • Oakridge MH Park
  • Paradise Mobile Village
  • Parker Island
  • Placid Lakes
  • Plains
  • Reflections on Silver Lake MH Park
  • Ridge Trailer Park
  • Sebring Gardens Trailer Park
  • Sebring Mobile Estates
  • Sebring Resort MH Park
  • Sebring Shores
  • Sebring Village MH Park
  • Southland MH Park
  • Stewart Mobile Village
  • Sunny Ridge MH Park
  • Sunshine Park MH Park
  • Sunvale
  • Sweeneys MH Park
  • Sylvan Shores
  • Tanglewood MH Park
  • The Highlander MH Court
  • The Palms MH Park
  • Thunderbird Hills South MH Park
  • Tower Wood MH Park
  • Tropical Harbor Estates MH Park
  • Valencia Family MH Park
  • Venus
  • Villa del Sol MH Park
  • Washburn MH Park
  • Whispering Pines Village MH Park
  • Wild Island
  • Woodhaven Estates MH Park

A Final Word

So you want to buy a house in Highlands County, Florida. You've got your eye on a cute little bungalow with a yard or maybe a new construction home with all of the bells and whistles.

Whatever your dream home looks like, we're sure it's important to you. And we're sure you're doing everything you can to make that dream come true—including looking into financing options.

We think Hometown Heroes is such an incredible program - it makes it easy for eligible community workers who have served our country to focus on what matters most - buying a dream house quickly. Don't wait for another second - head over there now and apply!

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!