1st Time Homebuyers

Before You Buy

The real estate market in Florida is very competitive. Redfin reports that as of July 2022, the typical sales price in the state is $410,900, a rise of more than 17% annually. In late July, the median sales price of a home in the United States was $402,400, as reported by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

You might start saving now for a down payment on a home, despite the high cost of real estate. Here are some crucial measures to take:

  1. Gather your documents. You’ll need particular evidence and papers, such as recent tax returns, bank statements, and so on. It might be beneficial to create a folder on your computer that contains everything you need. You can also consider storing papers to the cloud so that you may access them quickly if a mortgage underwriter requests a crucial document while you are not at your personal computer.
  2. Look at your credit score and history. With AnnualCreditReport.com, you may acquire a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once every year see whether there are any errors that can be fixed. As soon as possible, settle all of your bills. In addition, your credit score will suffer if you file for new debt at the same time you apply for a mortgage.
  3. Obtain pre‐approval. To obtain pre‐approved for a mortgage, work with a reputable lender or broker. A pre‐approval letter shows you how much home you can afford and guarantees the seller that you have the necessary funds. Also, just because you’ve been accepted for the maximum loan amount doesn’t mean you have to purchase a property at the very top of your price range. Many lenders may pre‐approve you in a short period of time without triggering repeated rigorous credit checks.
  4. Locate a real estate agent. Request recommendations from friends and family members for agents in your region. Find one who has a track record of success in the areas you’re interested in. Keep specific requirements in mind, such as if you need a renovated kitchen or locations without a homeowners’ association, since these incur extra monthly expenses.
  5. Look for a place to live. Avoid becoming too tied to any one location and instead seek out many that match your interests and keep in mind that sellers want to receive a pre‐approval letter since it shows you’re serious about purchasing the home and not simply looking.

Florida Homebuyer Programs

Take advantage of these options if you’re having trouble making a down payment on a Florida house. You should only apply for homebuying assistance programs if you have plenty of time to wait for approval before making an offer on a house. These first‐time homebuyer programs may not be suitable if you need a house quickly.

When looking for housing, you’ll come across a number of acronyms for organizations, programs, and items. Half the difficulty is making sense of the different acronyms and abbreviations.

Some of the most notable ones mentioned in this article are:

  • FHFC – The Florida Housing Finance , often known as Florida Housing, is the go‐to organization for low‐ to moderate‐income Floridians wishing to purchase a house, as it offers services and initiatives to make the process simpler and more inexpensive.
  • FHA – The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is a government agency that was created in 1934 to help increase homeownership in the United States by providing mortgage insurance to lenders. The FHA does not lend money directly to borrowers, but rather works with approved lenders to insure mortgages that meet certain standards.
  • HUD – S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which manages the FHA, also offers a number of other programs for first‐time homebuyers, including veterans and their families. HUD does more than just give grants and loans; they also provide comprehensive guidance to first‐time buyers on their rights, the home‐buying process, getting a mortgage, and more.
  • USDA – Homebuyers in rural regions may be eligible for assistance from the Rural Development Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture.
  • VA – Veterans, active duty service members, and their spouses may be eligible for a mortgage loan via the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • PMI – Private mortgage insurance is often required of borrowers whose down payments are less than 20%. As a result, the lender is safeguarded against loss in the event of a default and subsequent foreclosure. 3% down payments are standard on loans for first‐ time homeowners with low to moderate incomes.

If you conduct any internet research regarding purchasing a property, you will undoubtedly come across references to 30‐year fixed mortgages. Almost all homeowners use this kind of mortgage. A mortgage with a fixed interest rate and monthly payments that stays the same for 30 years is called a “fixed rate mortgage.” 30‐year mortgages are the most popular kind of loan since their payments are often lower than those of 15‐year mortgages.bui

Benefits Available to First‐Time Homebuyers in Florida

Florida Housing, HUD, and other first‐time homebuyer programs have income and/or purchase price requirements for applicants. Price points and minimum incomes are not uniform throughout the nation.

These requirements apply to all 67 counties in Florida:

  • Minimum credit score of 620
  • The property must be in Florida
  • First and foremost, it must be the purchaser’s principal residence.
  • The purchaser is required to complete a homebuyer education course. 

Your FICO score might be the deciding factor in whether or not you are granted a mortgage. If you pay late, max out your credit cards, don’t pay back your loans, or apply for credit often, your credit score will suffer.

It’s a smart idea to get your free credit report from each of the three major agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) so you can get a complete picture of your financial health. Improving your credit score might make you a more appealing candidate for a house loan, increasing your chances of being approved.

Statewide and Regional First‐Time Homebuyer Programs and Grants

For many First-Time homebuyers, the primary hurdle to buying a home is not having the money for the down payment.  Low down payment loans are one solution because they allow for first-time homebuyers to get into a home with as little as 3% down, instead of the standard 20%. 

Florida state and regional programs for first‐time homebuyers and Down Payment assistance include:

  • HUD‐approved housing counseling agencies. Florida residents may get affordable or free advice from non‐profits certified by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on a wide range of housing concerns, including purchasing, renting, financing, and avoiding foreclosure. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling and the Financial Counseling Association of America are two programs among them.
  • Good Neighbor Next Door Program. This program is a first-time home buyer program for applicants in certain professions.  These professions include Law Enforcement , Teachers, Firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians.  The program offers discounts of up to 50% on homes located in a designated “revitalization area”.  Several requirements to qualify for this first-time home buyers grant is that this MUST be your Primary residence, you MUST commit to living in the home for at least three years and certify occupancy on an annual basis until the three years is up.  
  • Florida Housing Finance Corporation. Housing assistance, low‐interest loans, down payment and education aid are just some of the services offered by Florida Housing to its homebuyers and renters.
  • Habitat for Humanity. A charitable group that facilitates house ownership for low‐ income people by combining “sweat equity” (owner labor) with volunteer efforts.
  • Community Development Block Grants. With funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program, states may

repair and construct new homes in low‐income regions. The state and local governments in Florida sponsor the distribution.

  • HOME Investment Partnership Program. Homeownership Opportunities Made Easier (HOME) is another HUD program that gives money to local organizations so that they may assist people with low incomes purchase and fix up houses.
  • State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Program. SHIP, which is managed by Florida Housing, offers financial incentives to municipalities for the construction and upkeep of low‐income and multi‐family dwellings.
  • USDA Rural Housing Service. Those who live in rural regions may take advantage of the program’s low‐interest loans for the purchase or renovation of single‐family homes, duplexes, triplexes, and quads. Like other Government-backed loans, the Lender may only offer USDA loans to borrowers that meet this qualifying requirement. USDA mortgage requires no down payment BUT do require monthly PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) until you reach 20% equity in the home.

Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program. The Florida Housing program provides down payment and closing cost assistance to front‐line and healthcare employees such as Law Enforcement officers, Firefighters, educators, healthcare professionals, childcare employees and active military or Veterans, so that they may purchase or modify their first homes and reside in the community in which they serve. Military people who are buying a house for the first time may take advantage of the program’s reduced mortgage rates.

Florida Housing Mortgage Programs

Lender pre‐qualification and pre‐approval exposes a lot about your financial status and sets the groundwork for the kind of mortgage that works best for your budget and financial goals.

Depending on your income and other variables, these actions may also steer you toward federal help programs for which you may be eligible.

To choose the perfect loan for your needs and budget, Florida offers a wide variety of options. If you’re a first‐time buyer in Florida, you have several options for financing your home purchase:

  • HFA Conventional Loan- HFA stands for “Housing Finance Agency” or “Housing Finance Authority.” This refers to each state’s agency that provides advice — and sometimes financial assistance — to home buyers. Via the HFA loan program qualified borrowers might qualify for a 3% down payment mortgage and even down payment assistance.

Coming up with a down payment might be the most challenging component of owning a house for persons with lower earnings. All down payment assistance programs provided by Florida Housing are conditional on the usage of a Florida Housing mortgage. There are three programs currently available in the State of Florida:

Florida Assist Second Mortgage Program (FL Assist). Allows qualified borrowers to borrow up to $10,000 for a down payment on a home with an FHA, VA, or USDA loan, with no interest charged. Because of the delayed second mortgage arrangement, repayment is postponed until either the property is sold, or the borrower secures a new loan.

Preferred Grants from the HFA (3, 4, and 5%). Borrowers who put down 3%, 4%, or 5% of the purchase price and make all their mortgage payments on time for five years will have the remaining balance forgiven.

Homeownership Loan Program in Florida (FL HLP). Homebuyers may get a second mortgage for up to $10,000 with an interest rate of 3%. A complete payment is required upon sale or refinancing of the property, or within 15 years if the home is to be paid off via other means.

  • Hometown Heros Housing program
  • Though limited to specific front‐line and healthcare employees such as Law Enforcement officers, Firefighters, educators, healthcare professionals, childcare employees and active military or Veterans, Borrowers can receive up to 5% of the first mortgage loan amount (maximum of $25,000) in down payment and closing cost assistance.

Buying a house for the first time in Florida might seem impossible at times due to rising prices and a lack of supply, but there are a number of options and assistance programs available to help make this dream a reality.

When making what is likely to be the largest investment of your life, it is important to start the process with realistic expectations. There are a variety of alternatives available, including those that may help with the down payment and other closing costs.


"Kurt Heide is the utmost professional. His knowledge of the mortgage business, along with doing what is right for his customers is why I highly recommend Kurt for all your mortgage needs."

Like to find out more and talk to an experienced professional who can answer your questions about being a first-time homebuyer?

Like to see if you can qualify as a foreign national for finance to purchase property in the USA?

Call Kurt (He’s easy to talk to)