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

If you're thinking about buying your first home in Hillsborough, you can consider a few things before diving into the market. You might be surprised to learn that buying a home can be cheaper than renting — but it depends on what you're looking for.

Hometown Heroes Program

Hometown Heroes is a nonprofit initiative that provides affordable homes to eligible full-time workforce, employed by a Florida-based employer.

Hometown Heroes' mission is to provide housing solutions for eligible community workers by partnering with local home builders, government, and lending institutions to produce beautiful new homes at affordable prices.

Grants of up to $35,000

The Hometown Heroes program is an excellent opportunity to receive a grant to purchase a home. This program aims to provide community workforce with the opportunity to live in their own homes. The grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Income Limits

The income limit is $130,350 per year. The home must be the primary residence of the applicant.

Hometown Heroes Hillsborough county also has a program called Veterans Land Program (VLP), which is available to all qualifying veterans who have served in active duty military service in any branch of the armed forces of the United States or who have been honorably discharged from such service.

The HUD income limits are based on the Area Median Income (AMI). The AMI takes into account the current median income level in your area as well as future growth.

Loan Limits for FHA & USDA-RD

FHA loan limits for Hillsborough, FL, are $472,030. This is the maximum amount you can borrow when purchasing a home in Hillsborough with an FHA loan under Hometown Heroes. USDA-RD does not have a Cap on Loan Limit.

If you need more money than this range to buy a home, you need to make sure that you have enough cash to cover the difference between your purchase price and the maximum limit.

Loan Limits HFA Preferred, HFA Advantage, and V.A

The HFA Preferred Loan Program is a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for eligible first-time homebuyers. The loan limit for this program is $726,200.

The HFA Advantage Loan Program is a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for eligible first-time and repeats homebuyers. The loan limit for this program under Hometown Heroes is $726,200.

The VA Loan Program has no mortgage insurance premiums and requires no down payment from the borrower; however, there are many limitations to who qualifies for a V.A. loan.

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.

Home Buying Tips Hillsborough County, Florida

If you want to move into a specific neighborhood and home, find out how much you can afford using a mortgage calculator. Run the numbers.

This will give you an idea of what kind of monthly payment you can expect, which will help when you begin shopping for homes.

The calculator also factors your down payment amount and credit score to help determine what type of loan and interest rate you qualify for.

Lower your debt

You'll need good credit to get approved for a mortgage loan, so paying off any debts before applying for financing will help boost your score — which could mean qualifying for better rates and terms on your mortgage loan.

Raise your credit score

Your credit score is one of the most important factors lenders use to determine whether you'll be approved for a mortgage. If you have a good credit score, you'll likely be able to get a mortgage with low-interest rates and fees.

So if you want to buy a home, you must take steps to improve your credit score before applying for a mortgage.

Figure out what kind of home you want

Before applying for a mortgage, you must know what kind of home you're looking for — not just what price range but also where and how big.

When deciding on a location, think about where you'll be commuting from and how long each commute will take. This can help narrow down your choices when buying a home in Tampa Bay.

Budget for all the costs of homeownership

Many hidden costs of owning a home can add up quickly. Before leaping into homeownership, there are many expenses to consider, from insurance to property taxes, utilities, and maintenance.

Have at least a 3% down payment

It is highly recommended that you have at least 20% of your home purchase price saved up as a down payment before buying a home. This will help you keep up with your mortgage payments and avoid getting in over your head financially.

The credit score minimum is 580

Credit scores above 580 are preferred when buying a home so that lenders can determine if they want to lend you money.

If your credit score is below 580, options such as FHA loans or V.A. loans may be available that can help lower your monthly payments or get you into a house sooner than expected.

Qualify for programs that provide rebates when buying a home, such as Hometown Heroes

There are several programs available to help you buy a home. The most common is down payment assistance, up to $30,000; interest rate buydowns, which can lower your interest rate by 0.25% to 2%; and first-time homebuyer assistance programs such as Hometown Heroes that provide grants and low-interest loans.

Hillsborough County Cost of Living

The average house price just rose again in Hillsborough County, but what does that mean for your finances?

In the first quarter of 2022, the average home price in Hillsborough County rose 25.7 percent compared to the same period last year. The median sales price hit $402,000, according to data from Realtor.

Need to rent a place? Rent is on the rise all around the county

The average rent in Hillsborough County increased by 2.6 percent from January through March compared to last year, according to Zillow's latest rent report.

That's not as high as some other parts of Florida — like Miami-Dade at 3 percent or Palm Beach at 4 percent — but it's still an increase that may affect your budget.

According to recent research, you can fill your fridge and pantry for less at these supermarkets.

A recent study found that Publix has the lowest overall grocery prices among major chains in Tampa Bay. Save-A-Lot and Aldi tied for second place, with Walmart close behind them.

Gas prices are rising

According to AAA, the average price of regular gas in Tampa Bay is $2.62 per gallon. That's up from $2.52 a month ago and $2.26 last year.

Eating out is getting more expensive too

The Consumer Price Index released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that food costs have increased 2 percent over the past 12 months nationwide.

Still, in Tampa Bay, it has risen by 4 percent over the same period — with some items seeing even more significant increases: eggs (5 percent), beef (4 percent), and poultry (1 percent).


In Hillsborough County, health insurance is expensive. The average cost of a family plan is $1,600 per month. The average individual premium is $420 per month.


Childcare costs are also high in Hillsborough County. The average cost for a full-time center-based infant care facility is $1,275 per month, and the average cost for a full-time center-based toddler care facility is $1,294 per month.


The average monthly utility bill in Florida averages around $113 per month. In Hillsborough County, the average monthly utility bill is $195 per month.

Florida road sign entering Hillsborough County along causeway between Tampa and Clearwater Florida

Why Hillsborough County is Good for Families and Young Professionals

Hillsborough County is an excellent place to raise a family — whether you're looking for a quiet suburban lifestyle or a more urban experience.

The county has many neighborhoods with excellent schools and safe streets and has some of the best nightlife in Tampa Bay.

Economy and job growth

Hillsborough County has one of the strongest economies in Florida. The county's unemployment rate is 4.5 percent, lower than the state's average of 4.3 percent and below the national average of 5 percent.

Hillsborough is a central hub for transportation and distribution companies like DHL Express, Amazon, and UPS. It's also home to several call centers for large companies like AT&T and Experian.

Excellent Job Opportunities

There are many jobs available in Hillsborough County due to its booming economy.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 1 million jobs were available in Tampa Bay as of 2018. The top industries in Hillsborough County include healthcare services, education services, and retail trade.

Nice Weather

Hillsborough County has a temperate climate with warm winters and hot summers.

The average temperature during the winter months is 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), while summer temperatures can reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). The average annual precipitation is about 48 inches (122 centimeters).

Good Restaurants

There are hundreds of restaurants and bars in Hillsborough County — so many that it would be impossible to list them all!

The county is also home to several theme parks, including Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, LEGOLAND Florida, and Adventure Island Water Park. Along with the theme parks and museums, many beautiful parks for families to enjoy.

Great Sports Teams

If you like sports, then Hillsborough County is the place for you! There are many professional teams here, including the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team, and plenty of college teams!

Many people who live here follow both professional and college sports teams closely!

Booming Tech Industry

Hillsborough County has a booming tech industry that employs thousands of people each year.

There are many different types of jobs available in this field, from software engineers to computer technicians, which means there's something for nearly everyone!

Culture and Entertainment

Hillsborough County has lots of culture and entertainment options for residents of all ages.

You'll find theaters, museums, and other attractions in each city across the county. Some cities have more than others — we'll cover those below!

The Best Towns and Cities to Buy a Home in Hillsborough County, Florida

Land o' Lakes

Whether you're looking for a relaxing afternoon hike or an adventure on horseback, Land o' Lakes has plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun just minutes from your home.

The county's parks are always full of families enjoying picnics and playing games on the playgrounds, while nearby trails offer runners and cyclists challenging routes through scenic landscapes.

Spring Hill

Spring Hill is one of the most family-friendly areas in the Tampa Bay area – with top-ranked schools and plenty of fun activities for children of all ages.

Plus, there are several excellent restaurants nearby if you want to go out for dinner or grab something quick from one of the many local grocery stores!

Sun City Center

The city of Sun City Center is one of the most popular destinations in Hillsborough County. It's filled with active adults who love to socialize, but the city also has plenty of family-friendly activities.

There are more than ten golf courses in this city, so you can choose between 18-hole or 9-hole courses depending on your needs and preferences.

If you're looking for something a little more laid back, try some tennis or shuffleboard instead! If you're traveling with kids, take them over to the water park, where they can cool off after a day at school or work.


Lutz has many top-rated schools and popular local restaurants that will delight both parents and kids alike! The city has an excellent public school system rated 10 out of 10 based on its student performance on standardized tests like FCAT.

Tampa is just 20 minutes away from Lutz if you're looking for something more upscale! You'll find plenty of shopping malls, movie theaters, and restaurants within reach when you settle in this region of Hillsborough County.

FishHawk Ranch

FishHawk Ranch is full of amenities, many of which are kid-friendly!

The community has two pools, tennis courts, and a clubhouse where residents can gather for social events. It's also close to several schools, including Fishhawk Elementary School and Riverview High School.


Crestview is a low-key town with a small-town feel.

The area has an abundance of parks and trails for those who enjoy spending time outdoors. There's also plenty of shopping nearby at Brandon Town Center and Westfield Brandon Mall.


Carrollwood has one of the top libraries in the nation! Residents can enjoy a range of cultural activities at the Carrollwood Cultural Center, including art shows, concerts, plays, and more!

The Best Public Schools in Hillsborough County

  • Ulysses S. Grant Elementary School is a public school located in Tampa, FL. It has 469 students in grades P.K., K-5 with a student-teacher ratio of 15 to 1. According to state test scores, 63% of students are at least proficient in math and 75% in reading.

  • Mort Elementary School is a public school located in Tampa, FL. It has 491 students in grades P.K., K-5, with a student-teacher ratio of 14 to 1. According to state test scores, 65% of students are at least proficient in math and 73% in reading.

  • Shaw Elementary School is a public school located in Tampa, FL. It has 468 students in grades P.K., K-5, with a student-teacher ratio of 15 to 1. According to state test scores, 66% of students are at least proficient in math and 68% in reading.

  • Cimino Elementary School is a public school in Hillsborough County. It has 609 students and 45 teachers. Students are required to wear uniforms, which can be purchased at the school store. The school offers prekindergarten through grade 5 and is located at 8205 N 56th Street, Tampa, FL 33617. This is a Title I school with a Free Lunch program.

  • Mabry Elementary School is a public school in Hillsborough County. It has 588 students and 44 teachers. Students are required to wear uniforms, which can be purchased at the school store. The school offers prekindergarten through grade 5 and is located at 8125 N 56th Street, Tampa, FL 33617. This is a Title I school with a Free Lunch program.

All the Towns And Cities In Hillsborough County Qualify for the Hometown Heroes Program

  • Sun City Center
  • Brandon
  • Riverview
  • Ruskin
  • Sydney
  • Lutz
  • Wimauma
  • Balm
  • Lithia
  • Mango
  • Valrico
  • Dover
  • Apollo Beach
  • Odessa
  • Plant City
  • Tampa
  • Gibsonton
  • Thonotosassa
  • Durant
  • Seffner
  • Sun City

Final Thoughts

Many men and women who served in the military and other professions requiring great sacrifices were, unfortunately, unable to buy their first home. However, there are now programs that can help.

If you're a eligible community workers and would like to buy a house in Hillsborough County, Florida, there's a program called "Hometown Heroes."

This program gives down payment and closing cost assistance of up to $35,000 to help them buy homes in Hillsborough County.

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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