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19 First-Time Home Buyer Programs for Florida Residents

Written by:  

Lauren Hargrave

Lauren Hargrave

Lauren Hargrave

Personal Finance Writer

Lauren Hargrave is a writer from San Diego who focuses on technology, finance, and healthcare. She worked in finance for seven years before pivoting to a career in writing, and now, instead of putting numbers into spreadsheets, she writes about them instead.

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Fact Checked by:  

Dan Silva

Dan is the Vice President of Marketplace Lending at Own Up. Throughout his career, he has held executive leadership positions in the mortgage and banking industry.

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Houses in an Orlando neighborhood; photo by E Mens on Unsplash

Homebuyers looking to purchase a home in Florida have many down payment and closing cost assistance options. The programs are offered from statewide and local agencies and provide assistance in the form of second mortgages. Each program is structured a little differently, so make sure to check out the bullet points and additional resources linked under each section for program details.

General Eligibility Requirements for Down Payment Assistance Programs

Homebuyers that wish to apply to these down payment assistance programs must have an annual income and home purchase price that doesn’t exceed the program maximum. All homebuyers that participate in these down payment assistance programs must use the home they are purchasing as their primary residence, they must take a homebuyer education course, and they may have to contribute some of their own funds. Some programs require that homebuyers secure a first mortgage through a participating lender.

See What You Qualify For

Statewide Florida Down Payment Assistance Programs

Homebuyers applying for Florida’s statewide down payment assistance programs must have an annual income that is at or below the qualifying income limit for the homebuyer’s county. The home purchase price must meet purchase price limits for the home's county, and homebuyers must meet the IRS definition of a first-time homebuyer. Homebuyers must also have a minimum credit score of 620. Homebuyers can apply for the program through a participating lender. For more program details contact the Florida Housing Finance Corporation at: (850) 488-4197.

Below are several down payment assistance programs available at the state level.

The Florida Assist

Key Features:

  • Up to $10,000 in down payment assistance for FHA, USDA, VA, and Conventional loans.
  • Borrowers must use this program in conjunction with a first mortgage from Florida Housing.
  • This is a 0%, deferred second mortgage.
  • The loan must be repaid upon one of the following occurrences: sale or transfer of home, complete repayment of first mortgage, refinancing of first mortgage, or when the homebuyer ceases to occupy home as their primary residence.

The Florida Homeownership Loan Program (FL HLP) Second Mortgage

Key Features:

  • $10,000 in down payment assistance.
  • This is a fully amortizing, 15-year second mortgage. This means if you make every loan payment on time, the mortgage should be paid off in full by the close of the loan term.
  • Homebuyers will pay 3% interest on their loan amount.
  • Loan payments must be made on a monthly basis.
  • The balance of the loan must be repaid in full upon one of the following occurrences: sale or transfer of home, complete repayment of first mortgage, refinancing of first mortgage, or when homebuyer ceases to occupy home as their primary residence.

3%, 4%, and 5% HFA Preferred and HFA Advantage Plus Second Mortgages

Key Features:

  • Homebuyers receive down payment assistance equal to 3%, 4%, or 5% of the first mortgage amount.
  • This is a forgivable second mortgage loan.
  • 20% of the loan will be forgiven each year over the course of five years.
  • To be eligible for this assistance, homebuyers must secure one of the following loans from Florida Housing Financial Corporation as their first mortgage: the conventional HFA Preferred for TBA loan or the HFA Advantage for TBA loan.

Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program

Key Features:

  • Up to 5% of the first mortgage amount (not to exceed $35,000) in down payment and closing cost assistance.
  • Eligible homebuyers must be a frontline community worker like a police officer or firefighter in addition to meeting the other Florida Housing Finance Corporation requirements.
  • This program is intended to help frontline community workers purchase a home in the community in which they work.
  • This is a 0%, non-amortizing, 30-year second mortgage. The loan must be repaid in full when one of the following occurs: sale or transfer of home, complete repayment of first mortgage, refinancing of first mortgage, or when homebuyer ceases to occupy home as their primary residence.
  • Click here for the program-specific income and loan limits, as determined by the county in which the home is located.

Florida Panhandle Down Payment Assistance Programs

Homebuyers looking for down payment assistance in the Florida Panhandle can find programs targeted to the following areas: City of Pensacola and Escambia County, Panama City, Tallahassee, and Leon County. To qualify for these assistance programs, homes must be located within the city or county limits and homebuyers must meet the program’s financial requirements.

SHIP First-time Homebuyers Program (The City of Pensacola and Escambia County)

Key Features:

  • Up to $25,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance.
  • For first-time homebuyers or those who haven’t owned a home in the last three years.
  • Must qualify for a first mortgage with a participating lender.
  • 0%, deferred second mortgage.

HOME Homebuyer Program (The City of Pensacola and Escambia County)

Key Features:

  • Up to $12,500 in down payment and closing cost assistance.
  • Must qualify for a first mortgage with a participating lender.
  • 0%, deferred second mortgage.

Pensacola Homebuyer Incentive Program

Key Features:

  • Up to $30,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance.
  • Home must be located within Pensacola city limits.
  • Must qualify for a first mortgage with a participating lender.
  • 0%, deferred payment loan.

SHIP Panama City Housing Assistance

Key Features:

  • Up to $50,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance.
  • For first-time homebuyers or those who haven’t owned a home in the previous three years.
  • Homebuyers must have an annual income that is equal to or less than program limits.
  • Home must be located in Panama City.
  • Home purchase price can’t exceed $300,000.
  • This is a second mortgage.

TLC Tallahassee Down Payment Assistance

Key Features:

  • Up to 20% of the purchase price in down payment and closing cost assistance.
  • Homebuyers must have an annual income that is equal to or less than program limits.
  • Maximum home sale price is between $211,000 and $282,000.
  • 0%, deferred second or third mortgage with a 30-year term.
  • Homebuyers can repay the assistance loan over the course of the 30-year term, or all at once at the end of the 30 years.
  • If one of the following occurs, the loan balance must be repaid in full: sale or abandonment of the home, first mortgage refinance, foreclosure on the home, bankruptcy, maturity of the first mortgage, or when the homebuyer no longer occupies the home as their primary residence.

TLC Leon County Down Payment Assistance

Key Features:

  • Up to $10,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance.
  • Homebuyers must have an annual income that is equal to or less than program limits.
  • Home must be located within Leon County, but outside Tallahassee city limits.
  • Maximum home sale price is $349,525.
  • 0%, deferred second or third mortgage with a 30-year term.
  • Homebuyers can repay the assistance loan over the course of the 30-year term, or all at once at the end of the 30 years.
  • If one of the following occurs, the loan balance must be repaid in full: sale or abandonment of the home, first mortgage refinance, foreclosure on the home, bankruptcy, maturity of the first mortgage, or when the homebuyer no longer occupies the home as their primary residence.

North Florida Down Payment Assistance Programs

North Florida homebuyers buying a property located in Gainesville, Alachua County, Volusia County, and Daytona Beach could qualify for locally-sponsored down payment assistance programs. Homes must be located within the designated geographic boundaries and homebuyers must meet other qualifying criteria.

Gainesville Down Payment Assistance

Key Features:

  • Up to $15,000 in assistance.
  • For first-time homebuyers, those who haven’t owned a home in the last three years, and homebuyers that meet other qualifying requirements.
  • Homebuyers must have a qualifying annual income.
  • Home must be located within Gainesville city limits.
  • Maximum home sale price is between $172,000 to $227,000.
  • 0% deferred, forgivable loan. The loan will be forgiven after the homebuyer has lived in the home for five years.

Alachua County SHIP Down Payment Assistance

Key Features:

  • For first-time homebuyers.
  • Homes must be located in Alachua County and outside Gainesville city limits.
  • Homebuyers must have a qualifying annual income.
  • 10-year, deferred second mortgage. The loan must be repaid when one of the following occurs: sale or transfer of the property, refinance of the first mortgage, or expiration of the second mortgage term.

Volusia County Homebuyer Assistance

Key Features:

  • Up to $50,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance.
  • For first-time homebuyers.
  • Home must be located within city limits of the following: Edgewater, Pierson, Port Orange, and Oak Hill.
  • Homebuyers must have an annual income of 80% or less than the area median income.
  • 0%, deferred second mortgage with a 15-year term.

Daytona Beach Affordable Home Ownership Assistance Program (AHOAP)

Key Features:

  • Up to $50,000 in assistance.
  • Homebuyer must have an annual income that meets HUD section 8 program income limits.
  • Homebuyer can’t have filed for bankruptcy in previous three years.
  • Home must be located within Daytona Beach city limits.
  • Maximum home purchase price is $258,690.

Central Florida Homebuyer Assistance Programs

Homebuyers in Orange County, Tampa, and East Tampa have access to locally-sponsored down payment assistance programs. To qualify, homebuyers and the homes they’re purchasing must meet location, financial, and other qualifying criteria.

Orange County Homebuyer Program

Key Features:

  • Up to $45,000 in assistance.
  • Homebuyers must have an eligible annual income.
  • Homebuyers must have a minimum credit score of 620.
  • Homebuyers must have lived in Orange County for at least 12 months and have the right to permanently live in the U.S.
  • Maximum home sale price is $300,000.
  • 10-year, deferred second mortgage that is forgiven incrementally on an annual basis.

Dare to Own the Dream Tampa

Key Features:

  • Up to $40,000 in assistance.
  • Homebuyers can have an annual income equal to 140% of area median income or less.
  • Must have a minimum credit score of 600.
  • Maximum home purchase price is $350,000.
  • 0%, deferred, second mortgage. The loan is fully forgiven after the homebuyer has lived in the home for 10 years.

East Tampa CRA Down Payment Assistance Program

Key Features:

  • Up to $50,000 in assistance.
  • Homebuyers can have an annual income equal to 140% of area median income or less.
  • Must have a minimum credit score of 600.
  • Maximum home purchase price is $350,000.
  • 0%, deferred second mortgage. The loan is fully forgiven after the homebuyer has lived in the home for seven years.

South Florida Down Payment Assistance Programs

South Florida has two down payment assistance programs for homebuyers looking to purchase homes in either Miami-Dade County or Hallandale Beach. To qualify, homebuyers must be purchasing a home within the program’s designated geographic boundaries and meet other qualifying criteria.

Miami-Dade Homeownership Assistance Program

Key Features:

  • Up to $28,500 in assistance.
  • Homebuyers must have an annual income that doesn’t exceed 140% of the area median income.
  • Home must be located within Miami-Dade County.

Hallandale Beach CRA

Key Features:

  • Up to $100,000 in assistance. First responders could qualify for an additional $5,000.
  • For homebuyers who haven’t owned a home in the previous three years.
  • Homebuyers must have an annual income that is between 50% and 120% of the annual median income for Broward County.
  • Must have a minimum credit score of 640.
  • 0%, deferred and forgivable loan with a 10-year term.

The Bottom Line

There are many options for Florida homebuyers looking to bridge the gap between their savings and what they need to put a down payment on a house. If you have more questions about your eligibility for a program, reach out to that program directly or speak to a mortgage advisor. Good luck!

See What You Qualify For

See What You Qualify For

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