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

The Florida Hometown Heroes Loan Program will help community workers who meet specific criteria to acquire homes affordably by taking advantage of closing fees and down payment assistance. All counties, including Okaloosa, participate in the loan program.

Who is eligible for the Hometown Heroes program in Okaloosa County, Florida?

The Hometown Heroes housing program is open to all eligible full-time workforce, employed by a Florida-based employer in the county so they can afford to buy primary residences in the areas they serve.

You'll need to produce proof of two years of continuous occupation, pay stubs, tax and wage statements, and three years of federal tax returns.

Any gaps in your employment history may be investigated as well. It is not a must to have worked for the same company for two years.

What kind of help do you get if you meet the requirements?

Eligible community workforce in Okaloosa County may be eligible for lower interest rates on a first mortgage from the VA, FHA, USDA-RD, Freddie Mac, or Fannie Mae and down payment assistance, reduced upfront fees, and closing expenses.

In addition, lenders cannot include origination fees in the closing expenses for this particular financing program.

The first mortgage program options are as follows:

  • The Florida First for TBA government - This encompasses all government-sponsored mortgage programs, such as the VA, FHA, and USDA-RD. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is available to eligible applicants.

  • The HFA Preferred Heroes for TBA - This conventional loan program from Fannie Mae offers qualified borrowers a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. This mortgage scheme also offers cheaper Private Mortgage Insurance costs for borrowers with less than 80% AMI. However, borrowers with AMI above 80% are subjected to standard PMI.

  • The HFA Advantage Heroes for TBA - This conventional Freddie Mac program offers qualified borrowers a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and low-cost private mortgage insurance for AMI below 80%.

If you meet the criteria for these first mortgage options, you'll be entitled to the closing cost and down payment assistance automatically.

Homebuyers may qualify for closing costs and down payment assistance up to 5% of the first mortgage. The highest amount of down payment and closing cost assistance available is $35,000.

The closing cost and down payment support is offered in the form of a 0% non-amortizing second mortgage with a 30-year deferral period. If you refinance the first mortgage, transfer the deed, sell the house or rent it out, this second mortgage will become fully due.

Qualifying criteria for the Florida Hometown Heroes loan program

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.

To qualify for the Hometown Heroes loan program in Okaloosa County, you must deal with an approved loan officer, meet the income requirements for the county, and have a Credit score above 640 and maximum debt-to-income ratio of 50%.

There will no longer be an occupational requirement.

Active service members must also submit Form 1003 and a duplicate of their military ID. They must be first-time homebuyers, or they will be automatically disqualified.

On the other hand, veterans who exhibit a legitimate DD-214 with a non-dis-honorable discharge status do not need to be first-time homebuyers. Only a surviving wife or husband with a valid Certificate of Eligibility is eligible for a VA first loan.

All other program participants must be first-time buyers or not have owned or held title to a home in the last three years.

Does this program have income and home price limits?

The home financing program for Hometown Heroes includes income caps and maximum loan limits. Only applicants with salaries below 150% of the county's median income are considered.

Meanwhile, the negotiated purchase price must not exceed the county's Purchase Price Cap. Here's the breakdown for Okaloosa County, Florida:

  • Hometown Heroes Income Limits - $139,650
  • Hometown Heroes Loan Limits (FHA) - $603,750
  • Hometown Heroes Loan Limits (HFA Preferred, HFA Advantage and VA) - $726,200

USDA-RD does not have a Cap on Loan Limit.

What documents are required for this loan program?

To prove one's eligibility for the Florida Hometown Heroes loan program, one must provide the following documentation.

  • COPY of signed, FINAL 1003.
  • COPY of VOE confirming employment of 35 hours a week or more with a Florida based employer.
  • COPY of DD214, if applicable (for Veterans).
  • COPY of LES or SCRA (for active-duty military personnel).
  • COPY of fully executed FL Hometown Heroes Certification Form.

There will be no cash returns at closing; any remaining monies will be used to pay off the first mortgage. Borrowers can get up to $1000 in reimbursement for excess deposits if the minimum contribution has been reached and all FNMA standards followed.

How do you apply for the FL Hometown Heroes program in Okaloosa County, Florida?

Get connected with an approved loan officer and begin the application process for the Hometown Heroes' program down payment and closing cost support if you work full-time (35 hours or more a week), meet the income and purchase requirements, and are qualified for any of the first mortgage programs.

What homes can you purchase with this program?

You can use Hometown Heroes' home loans to buy new or refurbished homes, townhouses, single or multi-families, subsidized condos, and manufactured homes.

The lending program is offered in all cities in Okaloosa County, Florida so that individuals can buy a home anywhere in the county.

The county is divided into 16 cities. Destin is the costliest city, with a median listing price of $619.5K, while Crestview is the most inexpensive, with a median home listing price of $305.9K.

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.

About Okaloosa County, Florida

Okaloosa is one of the gorgeous places on Florida's Emerald Coast. The county, stretching from the Alabama state line to the Gulf of Mexico, is ripe with water adventure opportunities. The turquoise waters and immaculate white sandy beaches attract visitors and residents alike.

Okaloosa was formed from sections of Walton and Santa Rosa Counties on September 7, 1915, to become Florida's 52nd county. It is accessible and boasts a multicultural population, award-winning schools, and a wide range of job prospects.

In 2015, the county's median household income was $55,880. The average earning per 5 person was $28,902, and 11.3% of residents lived below the poverty line.

Gulf of Mexico at Okaloosa Island in Florida

Is Okaloosa County, Florida great for families and young professionals

Yes, while many people come to the county for water-based adventures, relaxing on the sandy beaches, camping, shopping, or enjoying arts inland, others consider it an honor to live here.

The county's population is diverse, with about 211 000 people, 79,235 houses, and 51,719 families. Residents say they love it here because of its sustainability, robust economy, and good quality of life.

According to the annual BestPlaces Comfort Index, this is the coziest county to live in Florida. It averages 0 inches of snow every year, 66 inches of rain, and the temperature never falls below 40 or rises above 91 F.

A significant military presence in the area attracts many technology-based businesses, defense contractors, and related sectors.

All enjoy a business-friendly municipal government and acclaimed public schools (including the state's first STEM-oriented middle school).

Top Okaloosa private and public sectors include:

  • Eglin Air Force Base
  • Okaloosa County School District
  • Okaloosa County BCC
  • Publix
  • Boeing
  • Crestview Aerospace LLC
  • Reliance Test & Technology
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Fort Walton Beach Medical Center
  • White Wilson Medical Center
  • North Okaloosa Medical Center

The best Elementary Schools in the county include:

  • Bluewater Elementary School
  • Destin Elementary School
  • Liza Jackson Preparatory School
  • James E Plew Elementary School
  • Northwest Florida Ballet Academie

Best Middle Schools include:

  • Addie R. Lewis School
  • Destin Middle School
  • Davidson Middle School
  • Laurel Hill School

Best Private and Charter Schools include:

  • Rocky Bayou Christian School
  • St Mary Catholic School
  • Calvary Christian Academy
  • Cinco Baptist School
  • Lakewood Christian School

Best Colleges and Universities include:

  • Northwest Florida State College campus in Niceville, Hurlburt Field, Ft. Walton Beach, and Crestview

Okaloosa County Housing Market

Okaloosa County provides vast opportunities in commercial and residential real estate to meet the various needs of its growing community.

However, as is the situation throughout the country, home prices have risen rapidly over the past few years. In April 2022, Okaloosa County home prices were up 18.7% compared to last year, selling for a median price of $370K.

This figure is close to the state's, rising by about 20%. Despite this rise in home prices, household income has remained the same level over the years. These factors make homeownership challenging and unattainable for many people in the county.

The most affected are community workers in Okaloosa County, Florida. Their earnings are significantly below the level required to purchase a home. It's why the Florida government has launched the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program.

Best Neighborhoods to live in Okaloosa County, Florida

The Hometown Heroes loan program is only for primary residents. That means you can't use it to snatch up investment properties or vacation homes. There's also a 60-day move-in time frame after closing.

After the 60-day purchase period, mortgage loans may be subject to repricing fines, extension costs, and cancellation fees. These costs will be deducted from a participating Bank's SRP at purchase.


  • Median home price is $619.5K
  • Above-average charter/private schools

Fort Walton Beach

  • Median home price is $350K
  • Affordable condos
  • Above-average elementary schools


  • Median home price is 305.9K
  • Affordable multi-family homes
  • Affordable three-bedroom houses


  • Median home price is 464K
  • Above-average elementary schools
  • Above-average high schools
  • Affordable townhomes
  • Affordable condos

Choctaw Beach

  • Median home price is 465K
  • Affordable condos
  • Affordable townhomes
  • Above-average elementary schools

Okaloosa Island

  • Median home price is $410K
  • Affordable multi-family homes
  • Affordable townhomes


  • Median home price is $324.9K
  • Affordable condos

Mary Ether

  • Median home price is 318.3K
  • Affordable condos
  • Affordable townhomes

What if you are not buying a home for the first time?

Suppose you are not purchasing your first home but are purchasing one in a federally designated area or are a qualified veteran. Then you may still qualify for the Hometown Heroes loan program.

Who is in charge of the program?

The Florida Hometown Heroes loan program is overseen by the Florida Housing and Finance Corporation, sometimes known as Florida Housing.

Florida Housing was founded by the legislature 40 years ago. The state's housing finance agency oversees federal and state funds to help Floridians secure inexpensive rental housing and homeownership.

Eligible full-time workers, employed by a Florida-based employer will be eligible for closing costs and down payment support under this program, which will help them purchase a primary residence in the communities they serve.

But, keep in mind that this down payment program for Hometown Heroes cannot be paired with other Florida housing deposit aid programs unless the other supporting institutions take on a third lien position.

Which cities in Okaloosa County, Florida are eligible for this program?

The Florida Hometown Heroes loan program is available across all communities in Okaloosa County, including:


  • Crestview
  • Destin
  • Fort Walton Beach
  • Laurel Hill
  • Mary Esther
  • Niceville
  • Valparaiso


  • Cinco Bayou
  • Shalimar

Census-designated places

  • Eglin AFB
  • Lake Lorraine
  • Ocean City
  • Wright

Various other unincorporated communities

  • Baker
  • Blackman
  • Dorcas
  • Escambia Farms
  • Florosa
  • Garden City
  • Okaloosa Island
  • Seminole
  • WynneHaven Beach


With home prices soaring above the roof, Florida legislators have approved a program to help many community workers afford homes in the neighborhoods they serve.

The Hometown Heroes loan program is available to eligible community workers whose earnings are significantly below the level required to purchase a home.

Among the many benefits, the program will include cheaper rates on the first loan with the FHA, RD, VA, Freddie Mac, or Fannie Mae and fewer upfront fees and no origination fees.

The program will also provide closing costs and down payment support in a 0%, non-amortizing second mortgage with a 30-year deferral period.

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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