Salute our Soldiers: Florida First Mortgage Government Loan Program
Whether you are an active or retired military personnel, you can now own your first house via the Florida first mortgage government loan program.
The Florida Housing Finance Corporation has partnered with eHousingPlus and the US Bank to offer military personnel and veterans financial assistance to receive their first mortgage.
This first mortgage loan is available at a lower rate than traditional mortgages in honor of our soldiers. You must be either active-duty military personnel or a veteran with an honorable discharge status to qualify for the loan.
This comprehensive write-up explains everything you need to know about the Florida first mortgage government loan program and how to secure this loan for your first house purchase.
Overview of the Florida First Mortgage Government Loan Program
The Florida First Mortgage Government Loan Program, also known as Salute our Soldiers loan program, is a unique mortgage facility tailored for our soldiers serving or having served in the military to help them buy their first home.
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, over 2,000 Florida veterans faced homelessness in 2019, one year before the Salute our Soldiers program launched in 2020.
The home loan program is all about giving back to our soldiers who sacrificed to protect our borders, and its primary objective is to help active soldiers and veterans find a home and reduce cases of homeless vets.
This loan is available from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation in partnership with eHousingPlus and several reputable lenders under US Bank Home Mortgage.
The Florida Housing Finance Corporation is a creation of the state legislature and has been in existence for more than three decades. The role of this state housing agency is to help aspiring homeowners, including active and retired military personnel, find affordable options for single-family and multi-family housing units.
EHousingPlus has been in the business of offering affordable homeownership programs for over two decades. They work with several housing finance agencies (HFAs), such as the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, to provide qualified veterans and military personnel financial assistance to buy or build their first home using their VA benefits.
The US Bank serves as the primary servicer for first mortgage loans via the Florida Housing Homebuyer Program. The bank works with several reputable lenders to provide down payment and closing costs assistance options to eligible borrowers. The bank trains participating lenders on delivery and purchase requirements. It also reviews and purchases mortgage files
Unlike other Florida Housing mortgage programs, this loan program offers a 30-year first mortgage to eligible borrowers at a lower fixed rate. The loan is available via The Bond Alternative Program, allowing our military service members to become homeowners. It comes with various down payment assistance options.
The State has set aside over $8 million to cover down payments and closing costs. The program also receives funding from the State housing trust fund and the local government housing trust fund.
Minimum Qualification Requirements
To qualify for the Florida first mortgage government program, you must be either an active-duty military service member or a veteran from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, National Guard, and the Reserves. Veterans must have an honorable discharge status to become eligible for the loan.
Since this is a first mortgage loan for first-time homebuyers, Florida Housing only considers the income and homeownership status of the applicant. Veterans do not have to be first-time homebuyers to qualify for this loan.
Unlike other FL housing first mortgage loan programs, the Salute our Soldiers Program does not have an upfront 1% origination fee. The lender won’t charge you the standard 1% fee as with other first mortgage loan products.
Here are other minimum qualification requirements for the Salute our Soldiers military loan program:
640 Credit Score - The FICO credit score for active military personnel and veterans seeking to secure a loan is usually 620. The minimum credit score for the Salute our Soldiers home loan program is slightly higher. You have to maintain a credit score of 640 to secure a Florida first mortgage government loan.
45% debt-to-income ratio - A debt-to-income ratio refers to the percentage of your monthly income that goes into servicing your debts. Lenders will always evaluate your debt-to-income ratio before approving or disapproving your loan application. This exact requirement applies to the Salute our Soldiers loan program, but this time, you must have a 45% or lower debt-to-income ratio to qualify.
Homeownership status - Your first mortgage government loan worthiness depends on your homeownership status. An active-duty service member does not qualify for the Salute our Soldiers home loan program if they already have or have been on title to a primary residence in the last three years. You must not have had ownership interest or appeared on the deed in your prior home to become an eligible borrower.
Veterans are exempt from this rule and can apply for this loan even if it’s not their first home. However, it must be an owner-occupied purchase to qualify for this first mortgage government loan.
Income and Maximum Sales Price Limits - Income and maximum sales price limits vary by county. For instance, the purchase price limits for bank loans to households in Alachua county range between $84,180 and $87,840. The highest limit is in Monroe County, and it ranges from $116,955 to 122,040, depending on the household size.
Qualifying income - Your income is a determinant factor in your Salute our Soldiers loan application. The lending institution will evaluate your total income before approving or rejecting your mortgage application.
The qualifying income for a first mortgage loan refers to the maximum amount a household can earn to be eligible for financial assistance to buy a home.
Closing costs - Closing costs refer to the fee you pay the lender for processing your loan. The closing costs for a mortgage loan usually range between 3% and 6% of the property’s purchase price.
The closing costs involved in the Salute our Soldiers loan program vary depending on the seller. The home seller can choose to contribute to the buyer’s closing cost to reduce the financial burden on the applicant and minimize out-of-pocket payments.
Cashback options - Most lenders give prospective applicants various cashback options as an incentive to take out a mortgage loan with them. However, the Salute our Soldiers first mortgage government loan program does not accept cashback to buyers during closing. Receiving cash from a lender can disqualify you from future mortgages unless the funds were part of a gift from a documented source.
- Documentary stamp taxes - The primary benefit of taking out a Salute our Soldiers loan is that document stamp taxes are not a requirement. The lender will not subject you to intangible taxes on your mortgages and notes, and you can save thousands of dollars when purchasing your first home. For instance, a property costing $250,000 can save you up to $1,375.
Income & Purchase Price Limits Per County
The Salute our Soldiers government loan program is available to active-duty military personnel and veterans with an honorable discharge status throughout all the 67 counties in Florida.
Income and purchase price limits for the Salute our Soldiers program vary by county.
Here is a detailed list of these income and purchase price limits for selected counties throughout the State for 2021 and 2022:
Seminole County - Seminole County is an excellent place for veterans to retire and own a home. The county has a population of over 460,000 residents. It offers an urban and suburban mix, with many apartment buildings and single-family homes to choose from.
The median home value is comparatively higher than the national value as it stands at $242,600. The income and purchase price limits range from $87,745 to $91,560.
St. Johns County - St. Johns County is another ideal destination for active-duty service members and veterans to buy a home, thanks to its diversity, active nightlife, and numerous job opportunities. Even though the median home value is $304,700, most county residents own their properties. The maximum income and purchase price limits range from $86,020 to $89,760.
Hillsborough County - Hillsborough County has a beautiful array of upscale apartments and lavish townhouses, explaining why it has a population of over 1 million residents. Thanks to its youthful nature, the county is ideal for young servicemen and women. The median home value is $216,300, while the maximum purchase price limit ranges from $84,870 to $88,560.
Alachua County - Alachua is one of the most popular counties in Florida, with over 260,000 residents. The median home value in Alachua is about $186,700, lower than the national value. The maximum purchase price limits range from $84,180 to $87,840.
Leon County - If you would like to live in a quiet and serene environment, consider buying a home in Leon County. The county has a lean population of slightly over 280,000 residents, and the median home value is only $203,100, lower than the national average. Income and purchase price limits range from $87,745 to $ 91,560.
Glades County - Glades County is another popular location for active-duty military personnel and veterans to buy a home. The county has a lean population of only 13,000 residents, making it ideal for homeowners who love quiet neighborhoods. Properties are cheap, with the median home value standing at $76,700. The income and purchase price limit are between $80,500 and $ 84,000.
Charlotte County - Thanks to the numerous housing options, Charlotte County is another excellent place to buy your first home. The median home value in this county is only $195,400, making it relatively affordable for first-time homebuyers. The maximum purchase price limit ranges from $80,500 to $84,000.
Miami-Dade County - House prices in Miami-Dade might be on the higher side, but this does not mean you should give this county a wide berth. Many consider it the healthiest county in Florida, and it has the best outdoor activities in the entire State. The income and purchase price limit range from $105,110 to $109,680, while the median home value is $289,600.
Palm Beach County - If you want to live next to the pristine blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean and don’t mind the heat, consider buying a home in Palm Beach County. The median home value in Palm Beach is $283,600, and the income and purchase price limit range from $100,970 to $105,360.
Santa Rosa County - Santa Rosa County has a population of 174,755 residents and is renowned for its affordable housing options. The median home value is $199,200, while the income and purchase price limit is between $80,500 and $84,000
Even though the county has a young populace, it has plenty of job opportunities for veterans to find work. So, if you are a retired military officer, do not hesitate to check out Santa Rosa County for your next home.
Orange County - Orange County has numerous public parks, amusement parks, malls, and restaurants. The county has friendly neighborhoods, making it ideal for military personnel and veterans with families. The median home value is $235,800, while the income and purchase price limits are between $87,745 and $91,560.
Pinellas County - Pinellas County is renowned for its diversity and vibrant nightlife. The county has some of the best public schools in Florida, making it ideal for service members with children. The median home value in Pinellas is $201,200, while the income and purchase price limit are between $84,870 and $88,560.
Okaloosa County - If you are an active serviceman or woman with a young family, Okaloosa County is an ideal place for your children to grow up. The county has some of the best public schools and is close to the beach. Many residents own their homes, and the median home value is $219,100. The income and purchase price limits are between $90,390 and $94,320.
Martin County - Martin County has less congestion with quiet and peaceful neighborhoods, making it ideal for retired veterans. Even though it has a high median home value of $273,700, most residents are homeowners. The income and purchase limits range from $82,225 to $85,800.
- Brevard County - Thanks to its diversity and manageable population, Brevard County is a suitable place to buy your first home, whether you’re a young service member or a veteran. The median home value in Brevard County is $196,400, and the maximum purchase limits range from $83,490 to $87,129.
Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance Programs
As you know by now, the Salute our Soldiers loan program offers lower first mortgage rates, allowing you to utilize your VA-guaranteed loan benefit appropriately.
That’s not all. The loan comes with various down payments and closing cost assistance programs like FL Assist (Florida Assist First Mortgage Program).
Under this program, eligible borrowers receive up to $7,500 conventional or $10,000 government loans at zero percent interest to assist in paying their down payment and closing costs.
The payment is usually deferred until you pay off your first mortgage, sell the property, transfer the deed, refinance the mortgage, or no longer live in the home as your primary residence.
Other down payment and closing cost assistance programs are for second mortgages, such as the FL Homeownership Loan Program (HLP). Under this program, you stand to receive up to $10,000 to help manage your down payment and closing costs. The loan has a 3% interest and monthly payment considered in your debt-to-income ratio.
Are you currently enlisted or a veteran in Florida? Learn more about Florida VA Loans.
The delivery timeline for the first and second mortgage loans is 60 days, meaning you will likely receive funds within this period as long as you meet all minimum eligibility requirements.
Reservation to underwriter certification is 45 days, while reservation to purchase the loan is 69 days. If you buy your loan after the delivery date has elapsed, it will be subject to repricing costs and late purchase fees.
Loans not delivered within 60 days are subject to cancellation, while loans delivered to US Bank cannot be canceled even after the 60 days.
If you are an aspiring homeowner but struggling to secure financing to buy your first home, the Salute our Soldiers first mortgage government loan program is here for you.
This 30-year fixed-rate housing finance is ideal for active service members and veterans. The loan is available at significantly lower rates and has minimal eligibility requirements, making it the ultimate path for you to purchase your first home in Florida.
Contact the Florida Housing Corporation for financial assistance if you feel ready to take the next step in your homeownership journey.
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.
About Author - Phil Ganz
Phil Ganz has over 20+ years of experience in the residential financing space. With over a billion dollars of funded loans, Phil helps homebuyers configure the perfect mortgage plan. Whether it's your first home, a complex multiple-property purchase, or anything in between, Phil has the experience to help you achieve your goals.