Coming up with an adequate down payment can be a problem for people trying to buy a home, especially for a first-time home buyer who has no equity from the sale of a previous home. In Florida, there are down payment assistance programs to help low-income and moderate-income people buy a home. These programs are administered by public agencies operating with federal and state funds, often in conjunction with private lenders.
Florida Assist Loan
Through the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, a home buyer can receive up to $10,000 toward the down payment and closing costs under the Florida Assist Loan. To qualify, applicants must have incomes at or below 80 percent of the area median income, which varies by county. Technically, this down-payment assistance is a second mortgage, but you don't have to make monthly payments. The home owners repay the loan only if they sell their home, pay off or refinance their first mortgage, transfer ownership or move out of the home.
Home buyers who have too much income to qualify for the Florida Assist program might be able to get help through another initiative of the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. The program is called Homeownership Assistance for Moderate Income (HAMI). This loan is targeted at moderate income home buyers who need down payment and closing cost assistance. A home buyer can get up to $5,000 for down payment and closing costs. This is an amortized loan that is offered at 5 percent interest. To qualify, the home buyer's income must be too high to qualify for the Florida Assist Loan, but not more than established income limits. The income limits vary by county, ranging from $54,800 a year in many counties up to $92,540 in Collier County, as of 2010.
Housing Finance Authorities
Throughout the state, there are regional housing finance authorities that offer down payment assistance through programs for low-income home buyers. For instance, the Escambia County Housing Finance Authority works with lenders to offer a zero interest loan of up to $8,000 for a down payment, amortized over 20 years. Other counties in Florida have similar programs, although the details regarding eligibility and the loan will differ.