In many U.S. states, grants are available to help people buy a primary home. For first-time homebuyers, there are even more options. These grants assist buyers in covering some of the costs associated with homebuying, such as closing costs and the down payment.
Florida has a variety of grants available that that help first-time homebuyers afford a house. The unifying conditions for these grants are that the buyers must qualify as first-time homebuyers and must purchase within the state of Florida. Some grants have additional qualifying conditions.
Important: To qualify as a first-time homebuyer, you do not necessarily have to be buying your first home. Under some programs, a first-time homebuyer is someone who has not owned a home for 3 years.
2019 First Time Homebuyer Grants in Florida
Homeownership Assistance for Moderate Income Loan (HAMI): Under this Florida Housing program, buyers can get a second mortgage to cover the down payment and closing costs. The program is for eligible first-time homebuyers within the state of Florida that meet income and credit score qualifications.
Mortgage Credit Certificate Program (MCC): Florida Housing gives qualifying first-time homebuyers the opportunity to get a 10-30% federal income tax credit, based on their home purchase value and household income. Tax credits over 20% have a $2,000 cap. This credit reduces their federal income tax burden dollar-for-dollar.
Florida Assist Second Mortgage Program (FL Assist): This grant is provided by Florida Housing. The FL Assist program is a second mortgage program with a limit of up to $7,500. This mortgage is meant to be used for closing costs and other costs associated with buying a home. Payments for FL Assist loans can be deferred until the buyer is able to pay, or until the house is sold or transferred, the first mortgage is paid off, the property is refinanced, or the buyer ceases occupying the home.
Military Heroes Program – (Florida First Government Loan Program): Active duty military personnel and veterans in Florida who meet certain qualifications may be eligible for this first-time homebuyer’s program under Florida Housing. With the Military Heroes program, you get a lower mortgage interest rate than you would under other mortgage programs. It is a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan that automatically qualifies you for other Florida Housing down payment assistance programs.
Florida HFA Preferred & Preferred Plus: These programs can give first-time homebuyers access to conventional mortgage loans with better terms. However, the biggest advantage is that many first-time buyers can apply for a non-repayable grant of 3%-4% of the home’s purchase price alongside the loan. This is great for covering the closing costs and other associated costs. HFA Preferred programs are offered through Florida Housing.
Everyday Hero Housing Assistance Fund (EHHAF): This grant program helps police, firefighters, teachers, social workers, medical professionals, and other community heroes with closing costs when purchasing a home. This is not a loan program, but a gift fund to help cover the partial or full down payment for eligible buyers.
State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP): Florida Housing has a partnership initiative with all counties in Florida that provide subsidized housing for low to moderate income families, especially those buying first homes. These partnerships can assist in down payments, closing costs, mortgage buydowns, matching federal housing grants, homeownership counseling, and more.
Florida First: Similar to the Military Heroes loan program, Florida First loans are sponsored by Florida Housing. They are 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgages with traditionally lower rates than other mortgages. With the Florida First program, you may also be eligible for down payment assistance programs.
Local Area First Time Homebuyer Grants
Beyond the statewide grants and programs, there are some programs for first-time homebuyers in specific counties and cities throughout Florida. Here are some of those programs:
- Infill Housing Program
- Palm Bay HOME Down Payment Assistance Program
- West Palm Beach Home Purchase Assistance Program
- Pensacola Housing Incentive Program
- Panama City Gap Finance Program
- Tallahassee Purchase Assistance Program
- Gainesville Down Payment Assistance Program
- Ocala Purchase Assistance Program
- Volusia County Homebuyer Assistance Program
- Daytona Beach Affordable Home Ownership Assistance Program
- Orange County Down Payment Assistance Program
- Tampa Mortgage Assistance Program
- Seminole County Purchase Assistance Program
- Miami-Dade County Homeownership Assistance Program
- Hallandale Beach First-Time Home Buyer Program
- Hardest-Hit Fund Down Payment Assistance (HHF DPA)
Explore Your Options
Consult your mortgage broker to explore your options. Florida offers a wide variety of grants and assistance program for first-time homebuyers statewide. Whether you’re looking for a home in a specific area or in the state of Florida in general, you’re likely to find an opportunity for a state or local area grant. Many federal grants for first-time homebuyers are also applicable in Florida.
Marimark Mortgage is based in Tampa, Florida and serves the mortgage needs of homebuyers, homeowners, and investors in Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
We specialize in conventional home mortgages, FHA, VA, and USDA mortgage options, refinance loans, and reverse mortgages. We’ve worked extensively with cash-out refinancing, and help clients with HARP refinancing to lower their monthly mortgage payments.