Many homebuyers who are fully capable of covering a monthly mortgage still struggle to save up for a large down payment. In fact, many would-be homeowners cite their lack of substantial savings as a top reason for their inability to buy a home. For those hoping to put down 20 percent on a $200,000-300,000 home, that payment would be somewhere between $40,000-$60,000—and that doesn’t include closing costs and other associated home-buying expenses.
Fortunately, prospective homebuyers don’t have to go it alone. There are a number of Florida down payment programs that can help get you in the door, even if your savings account leaves something to be desired. Here are a few down payment assistance programs that prospective homebuyers in Florida should look into before buying a home:

Florida Down Payment Programs

Many of the down payment and loan programs in Florida are offered by Florida Housing, an organization created by the state to provide more affordable housing opportunities for residents. Florida Housing offers a few different down payment programs, typically in conjunction with one of their mortgage loan options.

3%, 4%, and 5% HFA Preferred and HFA Advantage PLUS Second Mortgage

Homebuyers who qualify for an HFA conventional loan are also eligible to receive 3, 4, or 5 percent of the home’s purchase price in the form of a forgivable second mortgage. The second mortgage has a five-year term and 20 percent is forgiven each year.

Best For: This program is good for first-time homebuyers who need to make a low down payment and could use some closing cost assistance.

Florida Assist

Homebuyers who qualify for a Florida First mortgage loan are also eligible to receive up to $7,500 in the form of an interest-free second mortgage known as Florida Assist, which can help with down payment and closing costs. Florida First mortgages are backed by either the FHA, VA, or USDA. Florida Assist second mortgages are not forgivable, but deferred, and are typically due only when you sell or refinance the home.

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Best For: This program is good for low- to medium-income homebuyers who are interested in a government-backed mortgage loan, such as an FHA, VA, or USDA loan.

Florida HLP Second Mortgage

This program offers down payment and closing cost assistance up to $10,000 in the form of a 3-percent interest, fully amortizing second mortgage with a 15-year term. A Florida HLP Second Mortgage requires a monthly payment, but the remaining balance after the 15-year term is deferred unless the property is sold, paid off, or refinanced, in which case the balance must be paid in full.

Best For: This program is good for homebuyers who need help up front, but don’t have an issue paying the monthly installments.

Salute Our Soldiers PLUS

\Active-duty military and veterans across Florida are eligible for the Salute Our Soldiers Military Loan Program, along with several down payment and closing cost assistance options, such as Salute Our Soldiers PLUS. The loan options include low-interest conventional and government-backed mortgage loans, and those who qualify are also eligible for Florida Assist, an HLP second mortgage, or Salute Our Soldiers PLUS, which is a zero-percent interest, non-amortizing, five-year second mortgage.

PLUS offers down payment and/or closing cost assistance of 3, 4, or 5 percent of the purchase price, and the loan is forgiven by 20 percent every year over its five-year term. If the home is sold, paid off, or refinanced, the remaining balance must be paid in full, unless the owner is an active-duty military member who is required to relocate and must sell as a result.

Best For: Salute Our Soldiers PLUS is a good option for active-duty military or veterans who are in need of down payment assistance that doesn’t require monthly payments.

County-Specific Programs

In addition to statewide down payment assistance programs, there’s a good chance your city or county offers assistance. Here are just a few examples of Florida programs offered at the county level:

  • Palm Bay HOME Down Payment Assistance Program
  • Orange County Down Payment Assistance Program
  • Home Sweet Home Hillsborough Program
  • Home Key Plus 2nd Mortgage (for residents of Pinellas County)
  • HFA Miami-Dade Mortgage Program
  • FirstPlus Program (for residents of Lee County)
  • Escambia County Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance
  • Broward County Homebuyer Purchase Assistance Program

If you don’t see a program for your area listed above, check the website of your local housing authority to see what they have to offer.

Discover More Tips for Navigating the Home-Buying Process

With just a bit of help with your down payment and closing costs, homeownership could be within reach. If you’re unsure of what step to take next, check out our Home Buying 101 guide to discover tips from our expert loan officers.

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