2021 Florida first-time homebuyer assistance programs

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First-time homebuyers in Florida who need help making their purchase have a number of resources available to them. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation, known simply as Florida Housing, offers several down payment and closing cost assistance programs to help you buy your first home.

Florida Housing programs are available to first-time homebuyers or anyone who hasn’t owned and occupied a home in three years. Activity military members, qualified veterans and anyone purchasing in a federally designated targeted area may also be eligible.

Florida first-time homebuyer loan programs

Florida Housing’s loan programs are all 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Here’s an overview:

Florida Housing homebuyer programs

Florida Housing has a few categories of loans for first-time homebuyers, which include the Florida First program for federally-backed loans plus the FL HFA conventional loan programs and the Preferred or Advantage 3, 4 and 5 percent PLUS programs, which include a forgivable second mortgage to help with down payment and closing costs.

Borrowers who qualify for these 30-year, fixed-rate conventional mortgages will see lower mortgage insurance costs than with comparable federal loan program. The loans can usually be combined with a down payment and closing cost assistance program.

Salute Our Soldiers Military Loan Program

Geared toward qualified active duty and veteran military members, these programs offer 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages for government-backed loans (FHA, VA and USDA). Salute Our Soldiers offers lower rates than Florida First, but you don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer to use either program. Borrowers can combine these loans with a Florida Housing down payment and closing cost assistance program.


Borrower requirements:

Property requirements:

  • Must be a primary residence located within the state of Florida

Florida down payment and closing cost assistance programs

Florida Assist Second Mortgage Program (FL Assist)

Through Florida Housing, eligible borrowers receive up to $7,500 at zero percent interest on a deferred second mortgage to use toward a down payment. Repayment is deferred until the home is sold or ownership is transferred, or when the loan is paid off or refinanced.

HFA Preferred Grants (3, 4 and 5 percent) 

This program provides qualified borrowers with 3, 4 or 5 percent of the home’s purchase price to use toward the down payment and closing costs. This second mortgage is forgiven at 20 percent after five years.

Florida Homeownership Loan Program (FL HLP)

This program gives buyers up to $10,000 in a second amortizing mortgage at 3 percent. The mortgage must be paid off over 15 years unless you move, in which case the balance must be paid in full.

Note: These programs must be used with a Florida Housing loan program.

Other first-time homebuyer loans and programs

There are a number of national programs to help first-time homebuyers get into homes, as well. These include FHA, USDA and VA loans, as well as a handful of more specialized programs based on your mortgage lender, or whether or not you plan to renovate your new property. Check out Bankrate’s guide for more information.

Get started

Now that you have the lowdown on what help is available to buy your first home in Florida, you’re ready to take the next steps. For full details on loan programs and requirements, visit Florida Housing’s website. Keep in mind that Florida Housing is not a lender and doesn’t make borrowing decisions. Reach out to one of its approved lenders to apply for a mortgage or learn more details about which program best meets your needs. Note that lenders may have their own income and credit rules to qualify for a loan.

Nearby states first-time homebuyer programs

Learn more:

Written by
Zach Wichter
Mortgage reporter
Zach Wichter is a mortgage reporter at Bankrate. He previously worked on the Business desk at The New York Times where he won a Loeb Award for breaking news, and covered aviation for The Points Guy.
Edited by
Mortgage editor
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