Great news for Florida first-time homebuyers, the Hometown Heroes loan program recently expanded in July 2023 to include ALL qualified home buyers, not only frontline workers. In addition, the program’s down payment assistance has increased, up to $35,000 in some cases.
The Hometown Heroes program eliminates many barriers by allowing income-eligible first-time home buyers to secure 0% interest loans to pay for their down payment and closing costs. The HTH program in Florida is to be funded with $100 million for the 2023–2024 fiscal year.
Hometown Heroes – How Does it Work?
The Hometown Heroes program is a joint effort between the state of Florida and participating banks and lenders. It provides assistance to income-eligible homebuyers by offering 0% interest loans for down payments and closing costs. The loan is repaid when the borrower sells, transfers or refinances their home.
This program can provide 5% of the purchase price (up to $35,000) in assistance for those who qualify. The qualifications vary based on the type of loan and lender but typically include being an income-eligible, first-time homebuyer.
The funds are made available through participating lenders, who offer a variety of financing options and terms to meet borrowers’ needs. In addition to 0% interest loans for down payments and closing costs, some lenders may also provide other types of assistance, such as grants for homebuyer counseling and credit score improvements.
Florida Hometown Heroes Program Guidelines:
- Must be a first-time homebuyer (no homeownership in previous three years)
- This program is only available to residents purchasing a home in the state of Florida. All applicants must be employed full-time by a Florida-based company and work full-time. Other than military veterans, all buyers must work 35 hours or more a week to be eligible.
- The Hometown Heroes Program can be used together with regular Conforming, USDA, FHA, and VA purchase mortgages.
- All home buyers listed on the application must have a minimum 640 credit score.
- The program is only available for owner-occupied primary residences. Investment properties and lot/land loans are not eligible. In addition, refinance transactions are not eligible.
- Single Family residences, town homes, and FHA-approved condos are eligible.
- Applicant(s) must take an approved HUD homebuyer education course.
- The household must earn below 150% of the area’s median income (see income link above) The gross income caps start at $128,250 and go up to $162,750 in high-cost counties like Monroe County.
It is important to remember that this program does not guarantee homeownership. Buyers must still meet the lender’s criteria and qualify for a loan in order to buy a home. This includes being able to properly document wage income and assets, and meeting debt ratio requirements, loan amount limits, etc.
In Florida, the VA and conforming loan limits for 2024 go up to $766,550, slightly higher for high-cost Monroe County. FHA loan limits start at $498,257 in most locations for a single 1-unit property.
By taking advantage of this program, buyers may be able to purchase a home sooner than they would have otherwise been able to without the assistance. It is important for buyers to do their research and find out which lenders offer the best rates and terms for their situation.
The Florida Housing Finance Corporation also provides resources to help borrowers understand the home-buying process and make prudent decisions when selecting a mortgage. They offer online tools such as checklists, calculators, and educational videos to provide guidance on all aspects of purchasing a home.
Homebuyers who have questions can connect with us by calling the number above, or just submit the Info Request Form on this page. We are happy to assist buyers throughout Florida including Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Gainesville, Ocala, and Tallahassee.