If you’re dreaming of becoming a homeowner in the Sunshine State but struggling with the costs, Florida’s first-time home buyer grants might be your solution.
These programs offer financial assistance for down payments, closing costs, and other expenses associated with buying your first home. In this guide, we’ll break down what first-time home buyer grants are and explore some of the prominent programs available across Florida.
Understanding First-Time Home Buyer Grants
First-time home buyer grants are designed to make homeownership more accessible, particularly for those new to the real estate market. These grants come in various forms, with some being outright gifts that don’t require repayment, while others function as forgivable loans, meaning you don’t have to pay them back if you meet certain conditions, such as not selling or refinancing the house. These grants are offered by a range of entities, including local governments, community development organizations, and nonprofits.
To qualify for most first-time home buyer grant programs in Florida, you typically need to:
- Be a first-time home buyer, as defined by the specific program.
- Complete a home buyer education course.
- Stay within specified income and purchase price limits.
- Buy a property in an approved location.
- Use the home as your primary residence.
In addition to the grants discussed here, there are other Florida programs aimed at making homeownership more affordable. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC) offers various initiatives, including mortgages, grants, and a mortgage tax credit program.
First-Time Home Buyer Grants Across Florida
Managed by the FHFC, SHIP distributes funds to counties and cities across Florida. Local governments utilize these funds to provide down payment and closing cost assistance, homeownership counseling and much more. Given below are some first-time home buyer grants available in Florida:
Grant Programs in the Florida Panhandle
HOME Homebuyers Program (Pensacola and Escambia County)
This program offers up to $12,500 in down payment and closing cost assistance in the form of a forgivable loan, provided you meet program terms. Eligible homes must have been built after 1978 and be located in Escambia County or designated redevelopment areas in Pensacola.
Pensacola Housing Incentive Program (Pensacola)
Qualified applicants can receive up to $15,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance through this program in the form of a forgivable loan. These funds are reserved for low- to moderate-income families, and the home must be within Pensacola city limits.
Gap Finance Program (Panama City)
This grant program offers up to 50% of the required down payment and up to $3,000 in closing cost assistance for eligible applicants. Meeting general eligibility requirements is essential, and you must have at least $1,500 of your own funds to put toward closing costs. The house’s cost should not exceed $150,000 and must be located in Panama City.
Purchase Assistance Program (Tallahassee)
Administered by the Tallahassee Lenders’ Consortium, this program provides up to $7,000 for a down payment and closing costs. Depending on need, applicants may qualify for an additional $5,000 in assistance, all provided as a loan.
Grant Programs in North Florida
Down Payment Assistance Program (Gainesville)
This program offers first-time home buyers up to $8,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance, with an additional $2,000 available for minor repairs. Property must be located within the city limits of Gainesville.
HomeBuyer Assistance Program (Volusia County)
This grant program helps eligible households “close the gap” of funds needed to buy a home. The amount of assistance depends on the borrower’s income level, but the program provides up to $30,000 for a down payment and up to $6,000 for closing costs. Funds are provided in the form of a deferred subordinate loan with no interest, and the home must be in Volusia County, but outside the city limits of Daytona Beach, Deltona, or Ponce Inlet.
Purchase Assistance Program (Ocala)
Low to moderate-income first-time home buyers can use this program to help with down payment and closing costs, receiving up to $20,000 in the form of a no-interest loan.
Affordable Home Ownership Assistance Program (Daytona Beach)
This program assists qualified applicants in purchasing a home within Daytona Beach’s city limits. Eligible individuals can receive up to $50,000 in assistance, depending on program funding and applicant income. Grant money can be used for a down payment, closing costs, and home rehabilitation. Applicants must also contribute at least $500 toward the purchase and use the home as their primary residence.
Grant Programs in Central Florida
Down Payment Assistance Program Florida (Orange County)
First-time home buyers may receive up to $30,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance, with the specific amount depending on their income. Funds are provided as a 10-year deferred loan, which must be repaid if the borrower sells, rents, refinances, or moves out of the property before the loan period expires.
Grant Programs in South Florida
Homeownership Assistance Program (Miami-Dade County)
Through the Miami-Dade Advocacy Trust, this grant program provides first-time home buyers with up to $7,250 for down payment and closing costs. Funds are offered as a no-interest, no-payment loan forgiven after 10 years, provided the borrower continues to occupy the home and hasn’t done a cash-out refinance.
First-Time Home Buyer Program (Hallandale Beach)
Administered by the Hallandale Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, this program offers first-time home buyers up to $50,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance. Funds are provided as a no-interest loan that can be forgiven if the house becomes the borrower’s primary residence for at least 10 years.
Home Purchase Assistance Program (West Palm Beach)
This grant program, administered by the West Palm Beach Department of Housing and Community Development, makes up to $60,000 available for down payment and closing cost assistance, depending on income. Assistance comes in the form of a no-interest, deferred-payment loan with no repayment required if the borrower owns and occupies the home for a specific period.
Taking the Next Step
If you think one of these first-time home buyer grant programs might be right for you, reach out to the program administrator for additional details regarding eligibility requirements and the application process. These administrators can also help you find an approved home buyer education class and a participating lender, if required by the program. It’s crucial to fully understand the terms and conditions of any grant program before applying.
Q : What are Florida first time home buyer grants?
A : First-time home buyer grants are financial programs in Florida that provide assistance with down payments, closing costs, and other homebuying expenses.
Q : Who is eligible for these grants?
A : Eligibility typically requires being a first-time home buyer, completing a home buyer education course, meeting income and purchase price limits, and using the home as your primary residence.
Q : How can I find out more and apply for a FTHB grant?
A : Contact the program administrator directly for details on eligibility requirements and the application process. They can guide you through the necessary steps.