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Hometown Heroes Program FAQ and Changes in 2024

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In November 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a substantial funding boost for the Hometown Heroes Program, allocating an additional $36 million to the initiative. This influx of funds is poised to expand the program’s reach and enhance the support provided to local heroes.

The Hometown Heroes Program, established to support local champions who have made significant contributions to their communities, has undergone several updates for the year 2024.

This article serves as a resource to learn everything you need to know about the Florida Hometown Heroes Program.




What is the Florida Hometown Heroes Program?

The Florida Hometown Heroes Program is an initiative designed to provide down payment assistance to working Floridians aiming to purchase a home.

Contrary to its name, the program is not exclusive to frontline heroes; it is open to all gainfully employed residents of Florida.

For the 2023-2024 fiscal year, the maximum down payment assistance has seen an increase from $25,000 to $35,000. The program also benefited from an additional infusion of $100 million in funding.

However, as of late 2023, specific details regarding the funding allocation for 2024 and its release date remain undisclosed. Nonetheless, it's anticipated that more information will become available by early summer 2024.

Eligibility criteria for the program include:

  • Being a first-time homebuyer.

  • Holding a minimum credit score of 640.

  • Earning an income less than 150% of the area median income for the applicant's respective county.

  • Being employed by a Florida-based employer.

  • Committing to purchase a home in the community where the applicant works and serves.

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Who is eligible to participate in the program?

The Florida Hometown Heroes program is designed to assist individuals in achieving homeownership by providing down payment assistance.

To be eligible for this program, prospective homebuyers must meet certain criteria outlined below:


First-Time Homebuyer Status

Applicants must be first-time homebuyers, meaning they have not owned a principal residence within the past three years.

This requirement ensures that the program targets individuals who are new to homeownership and could benefit from financial assistance.

As of November 2023, there is now an exception for Veterans, who can use the program at any time!


Minimum Credit Score

A minimum credit score of 640 is required to qualify for the Florida Hometown Heroes program.

This criterion assesses the applicant's creditworthiness and indicates their ability to manage financial responsibilities effectively.


Income Limitations

To be eligible, homebuyers must earn less than 150% of the area median income (AMI) for their county. The AMI varies based on the location and is determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

This income threshold ensures that the program primarily assists individuals who fall within the moderate to low-income range.


Employment by a Florida-Based Employer

Applicants must be employed by a Florida-based employer.

This requirement aims to support individuals who contribute to the local economy and have a direct connection to the community in which they work and reside.


Home Purchase in the Community of Employment

In addition to being employed in Florida, applicants must purchase a home in the community where they work and serve.

This criterion emphasizes the program's focus on supporting individuals who are committed to their local communities and encourages the development of vibrant and sustainable neighborhoods.


By meeting these eligibility criteria, aspiring homebuyers can take advantage of the Florida Hometown Heroes program's down payment assistance.

It is important to note that meeting the requirements does not guarantee acceptance into the program, as funding availability may also be a factor.

Prospective homebuyers who fulfill the eligibility criteria outlined above should consider exploring the opportunities offered by the Florida Hometown Heroes program.

This initiative aims to empower individuals and provide them with the necessary support to embark on their homeownership journey, fostering stronger communities across the state of Florida.


What are the changes to the program effective July 1st, 2023?

The Florida Hometown Heroes program, which provides down payment assistance to eligible individuals, is undergoing significant changes starting from July 1st, 2023. These changes aim to expand the program's reach and increase its impact on the lives of Floridians.

Here are the key updates:


Increased Maximum Down Payment Assistance Amount

One of the notable changes to the Florida Hometown Heroes program is the increase in the maximum down payment assistance amount.

Previously set at $25,000, the maximum assistance available will now be raised to $35,000.

This adjustment offers aspiring homeowners in Florida greater financial support, helping them overcome the initial hurdle of down payment requirements.


Expanded Eligibility Criteria

In an effort to make the program more inclusive, the Florida Hometown Heroes initiative will expand its eligibility criteria.

Previously limited to frontline heroes, the program will now be available to all working Floridians.

This expansion recognizes that heroes exist in various forms and aims to support a broader range of individuals who contribute to their communities through their work.


Additional Funding Allocation

Recognizing the importance and success of the Florida Hometown Heroes program, an additional $100 million in funding has been allocated for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

This increase in funding demonstrates the state's commitment to supporting its residents in achieving homeownership and addresses the growing demand for assistance.


With these changes, the Florida Hometown Heroes program aims to provide increased financial support, widen its scope of beneficiaries, and make homeownership more accessible to hardworking Floridians.

Whether you're a frontline hero or an essential worker, these modifications seek to create opportunities for individuals across various professions to fulfill their dream of owning a home.

If you are considering homeownership in Florida, it's worth exploring the enhanced benefits offered by the Florida Hometown Heroes program starting from July 1st, 2023.

The increased down payment assistance amount, expanded eligibility criteria, and additional funding signify the state's dedication to empowering its residents and fostering vibrant communities throughout Florida.


What are the different mortgage options available under the program?

The Florida Hometown Heroes Program offers a variety of mortgage options, including:

  • FHA loans - FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). They have more lenient credit score requirements than conventional loans.

  • VA loans - VA loans are guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). They offer 100% financing, so you don't need a down payment. They also have no monthly mortgage insurance premiums (MIP).

  • USDA loans - USDA loans are guaranteed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). They are available to borrowers who purchase homes in rural areas. They offer 100% financing, and they have no monthly MIP.

  • Conventional loans - Conventional loans are not insured or guaranteed by the government. They typically require a down payment of at least 3%, and interest rates tend to be higher than FHA or VA loans.

The specific mortgage options that are available to you will depend on your individual circumstances, such as your income, credit score, and the type of property you are buying.

You should work with a qualified lender to determine which mortgage option is best for you.


What are the income and maximum loan limits for the program?

The income and maximum loan limits for the Florida Hometown Heroes Program vary depending on the county where you are buying a home.

You can find the income and maximum loan limits for your county on the Florida Housing Finance Corporation website.

Here are some examples of income and maximum loan limits for different counties:

  • Miami-Dade County - Maximum income is $154,800 and Maximum loan limit is $557,750.

  • Hillsborough County - Maximum income is $130,350 and Maximum loan limit is $472,030.

  • Volusia County - Maximum income is $128,250 and Maximum loan limit is $472,030.

If you are a first-time homebuyer, you may be eligible for additional down payment assistance, which could increase your maximum loan limit.

You can find more information about first-time homebuyer programs on the Florida Housing Finance Corporation website.


How I Find a Hometown Heroes Program Lender?

The reservation and loan delivery process for the Florida Hometown Heroes Program is as follows:

  • Find a participating lender - The first step is to find a participating lender. You can find a list of participating lenders on the Florida Housing Finance Corporation website or simply contact MakeFloridaYourHome using our website.

  • Apply for the program - Once you have found a participating lender, you will need to apply for the program. The lender will review your application and determine if you are eligible.

  • Make an offer on a home - If you are approved for the program, you can make an offer on a home. The lender will need to approve the loan before you can close on the home.

  • Reserve the funds - Once the lender approves the loan, you will need to reserve the funds. This means that you will need to pay a reservation fee. The reservation fee is typically 1% of the down payment assistance amount.

  • Close on the home - Once the funds are reserved, you can close on the home. The lender will provide you with the down payment assistance funds at the time of closing.

The reservation and loan delivery process typically takes 30-60 days. However, the process may take longer if there are any delays in the underwriting process.


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.


Where can I find more information and who can I contact with questions about the program?

For individuals seeking more information about the Florida Hometown Heroes program or having questions about the eligibility requirements, application process, or any other related inquiries, the primary point of contact is MakeFloridaYourHome.

MakeFloridaYourHome is a designated organization responsible for administering and overseeing the Florida Hometown Heroes program.

Their team of dedicated professionals is committed to helping aspiring homebuyers navigate the program and make their dream of homeownership a reality.

Whether you have questions about the program's eligibility criteria, the application process, the maximum down payment assistance amount, or any other aspect of the program, the team at MakeFloridaYourHome is there to assist you every step of the way.

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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