Skip to content
Fact Checked by Experts

Florida Hometown Heroes Program - The Complete Guide

Listen to Article

In May 2024, Governor Ron DeSantis declared a significant increase in funding for the Hometown Heroes Program.

Starting July 1st, 2024, the Florida Hometown Heroes Program Grant funds will be released for homebuyers to use.

The Hometown Heroes Program provides up to $35,000 in financial assistance as a grant, significantly reducing upfront home-purchasing costs for Florida's essential workers.

This grant does not need to be repaid under normal conditions, making homeownership more affordable.

The 2024-2025 Hometown Heroes Program funds will be released on July 1st, 2024, and are expected to be claimed quickly, as they were last year. To secure your chance, act promptly and ensure you are fully prepared.

In this guide, we explore the features of the Hometown Hero Housing Program, including the home loan products available, the occupations that qualify, and other eligibility requirements. Read on to find out more about this groundbreaking program.

Florida Hometown Heroes Program Updates Effective July 1, 2024

Starting July 1st, 2024, the Florida Hometown Heroes program, dedicated to providing down payment assistance, will see transformative changes to extend its benefits and make a greater impact on Floridians.

Higher Down Payment Assistance Limit

  • Then: Previously capped at $25,000.

  • Now: Increased to a maximum of $35,000.

  • Impact: Offers more substantial financial support for prospective homeowners, easing the burden of down payments.

Broader Eligibility

  • Then: Focused on frontline heroes.

  • Now: Open to all working Floridians.

  • Impact: Acknowledges diverse heroes in the workforce, reaching more people who contribute significantly to their communities.

Additional Program Funding

  • Amount: Milliosn in additional funding for the fiscal year 2024-2025.

  • Purpose: Addresses increasing demands for assistance and underscores the state’s commitment to promoting homeownership.

  • Impact: Strengthens the program’s ability to assist more Floridians.

A group of essential workers in professional dress talking about Florida Hometown Heroes Program

Mortgage Options in the Florida Hometown Heroes Program

The Florida Hometown Heroes Program offers various mortgage choices to cater to different needs and circumstances. Here's a breakdown:

FHA Loans

  • Insured by: Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

  • Key Feature: More forgiving credit score requirements compared to conventional loans.

  • Suitable for: Borrowers seeking leniency in credit criteria.

VA Loans

  • Guaranteed by: Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

  • Key Features: 100% financing available, eliminating the need for a down payment. No monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP).

  • Suitable for: Veterans and qualifying service members seeking comprehensive financing options.

USDA Loans

  • Guaranteed by: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

  • Key Features: 100% financing is available for home purchases in designated rural areas. No monthly MIP.

  • Suitable for: Buyers in rural locations looking for full financing.

Conventional Loans

  • Nature: Not insured or guaranteed by the government.

  • Key Features: Requires a minimum down payment of 3%. Generally, higher interest rates than FHA or VA loans.

  • Suitable for: Borrowers with higher credit scores and the ability to afford a down payment.

FL Hometown Heroes Second Mortgage

As highlighted before, prospective homebuyers who qualify for the FL Hometown Heroes TBA First Mortgage loans can receive down payment and closing cost assistance in a 0%, non-amortizing, 30-year, repayable second mortgage.

This second mortgage is equal to 5% of the value of the first mortgage and is capped at $35,000.

It is worth noting, however, that this second mortgage is non-forgivable, and the borrower will be required to repay the outstanding mortgage balance in full if :

  • They complete payment on the first mortgage.

  • They refinance the first mortgage.

  • Transfer the deed of the property.

  • They no longer occupy the property as their primary residence.

Who Can Qualify For FL Housing Hometown Heroes First Mortgage?

As highlighted at the outset, the Hometown Heroes Housing Program is designed to help eligible community workers secure home financing assistance through various first mortgage programs and down payment and closing cost assistance via second mortgages.

If a borrower is employed full-time (must document 35+ hrs. per week) by a business located in Florida, meets program requirements, and can qualify for credit for a mortgage, many more first-time homebuyers should qualify for this program. There is no occupational requirement.

FL Housing Hometown Heroes First Mortgage Eligibility Requirements

There are several requirements that applicants must satisfy to be considered eligible for a first mortgage in the Hometown Heroes Housing Program. These include:

First-Time Homebuyer Requirement

An applicant must be a first-time homebuyer to be considered for the FL Housing Hometown Heroes program. This implies they shouldn't have shown any ownership interest in a primary house in the three years leading up to the execution of the Mortgage Loan.

However, active military service members and veterans are exempted from this standard and need not be first-time homebuyers to qualify for the program.

A Veteran is "anyone who has served in the active military, naval, or air service and was dismissed or released under terms other than dishonorable." This veteran's exception applies to all of FL Housing's programs.

Income Limit Requirement

Applicants must meet the qualifying income requirements stipulated by FL Housing to be eligible for the Hometown Heroes Housing Program.

The income limit puts a cap above which an individual cannot qualify for a mortgage. This ensures that low and medium-income earners qualify for the mortgage program.

The Hometown Hero Housing Program will be accessible to first-time homebuyers with incomes of no more than 150 percent of the state or local median income when the loan is given.

Some of the income types that are factored in when determining qualifying income include:

  • Employees' Salary/ Hourly Wages
  • Earnings from self-employment
  • VA Payments
  • Overtime earnings
  • Alimony and child support payments
  • Social security income
  • Retirement income
  • Dividends
  • Interest from investments

Credit Requirements

A good credit score is critical when applying for any mortgage since it shows your lender that you can repay the loan on time. This is why most mortgage programs have credit limit requirements for their loans.

Depending on the mortgage you are applying for in the Hometown Heroes Housing Program, you'll need to have a particular FICO score to be considered eligible.

If you're applying for the FL Hometown Heroes First Mortgage Loan For TBA (FHA, VA, and USDA-RD), you need a minimum FICO score of 640.

On the other hand, if you're applying for an HFA Preferred loan for TBA (Fannie Mae) or an HFA Advantage loan for TBA (Freddie Mac), you must have a FICO score of 640 or higher, depending on your mortgage provider.

It is worth noting that shopping for a mortgage can reduce your credit score by a few points due to credit inquiries by lenders.

DTI Requirements

Prospective homebuyers applying for mortgages in the Hometown Heroes Housing Program must satisfy specific DTI requirements to qualify for the different loan types.

  • Maximum 50% DTI with AUS A/E
  • Maximum 43% DTI with manual underwrites
  • Maximum 45% DTI with manufactured housing

Homebuyer Education Requirement

All Hometown Heroes Mortgage Program applicants must complete a pre-purchase homebuyer education course that meets the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) standards or the National Industry Standards for Homeownership Education and Counseling.

Participating lenders are charged with providing this education course directly or in partnership with a mortgage insurance business.

Certificates of completion are valid for two years from the date of completion. Post-closing education is unacceptable, and borrowers must move into the house within 60 days of the closing date.

Purchase Limits

This clause establishes a ceiling on agreed-upon purchase prices or the prices of available residences for sale.

In other words, you can't use the FL Hometown Heroes mortgage loan to pay more than the maximum amount allowed for various types of property across Florida.

The maximum purchase price varies by county and by area within a county.

Property Requirements

Generally, all mortgage products offered in the Hometown Heroes Housing Program can only be used to purchase primary homes.

They cannot be used to refinance pre-existing mortgages or purchase properties for other purposes, such as business.

Some of the property types that a borrower can purchase using these loans include:

  • Attached or Detached 1-unit dwellings, including townhouse
  • 2 - 4 unit property
  • Condos
  • Manufactured Housing (1994 or newer)

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 exempts documentary stamp tax and intangible tax for first and second mortgages and notes 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 $0.70 per $100 paid for the property in most counties, except Miami Dade, which is $0.60 per $100.

You can exclude this tax with the Hometown Heroes Program when you meet the program's criteria. The Florida intangible tax, calculated at two 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 save you approximately $2,000 in documentary stamp and intangible tax.

FL Housing Hometown Heroes Mortgage Fees

When applying, you need to be aware of various fees associated with the FL Housing Hometown Heroes First Mortgage Program. These are:

  • $400 Investor Funding Fee (payable to Master Servicer)

  • $275 Compliance Fee (payable to eHousing)

  • $75 Tax Service Fee (payable to Master Servicer)

  • $10 Flood Certification Transfer Fee (payable to Master Servicer)

Documents to Determine FL Housing Hometown Heroes Qualification

The lender is responsible for collecting and validating the following documents to determine if the borrower qualifies for the Program:

  • Fully executed HTH Loan Program Certification.

  • Copy of VOE validating currently employed, 35 hours or more a week.

Bottom Line

Funds for the 2024-2025 Hometown Heroes Program will be released on July 1st, 2024, and are expected to go quickly.

To take advantage of this opportunity, you need to act fast and be fully prepared.

Ensure you meet all eligibility requirements and have your application ready to submit as soon as the funds become available.

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