The road to homeownership doesn’t always have to involve conventional loans. If you want to own a home in South Florida, you have the benefit of being able to apply for government mortgages. In this post, we will outline the requirements for homebuyers who want to buy a home in South Florida for the first time through Florida Housing’s programs.
Buying a House for the First Time in Florida?
The Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC) or the Florida Housing offers a wide range of programs and grants for first-time homeowners, including:
- First-Time Homebuyer Program. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you may be able to obtain a 30-year loan from participating lenders across the state of Florida. Note that your income and the price of the property you plan to buy must be below your county’s limits.
- Florida Assist. FL Assist is a cost assistance program where you can get up to $10,000 on a government loan or $7,500 on a conventional loan at an interest of 0% with no monthly payments. To be eligible for FL Assist, your income must be between 80% to 120% of the Area Median Income (AMI). So if the AMI is $60,000, your income must be between $48,000 and $72,000.
- Florida Homeownership Loan Program. The FL HLP comes with $10,000 in assistance with a 3 percent interest rate. The amount must be paid within 15 years, however, if you move, sell, or refinance the property, the amount must be promptly paid in full.
- HFA Preferred and HFA Advantage PLUS Second Mortgage. This program lets you get a second mortgage for up to 3%, 4%, or 5% of the total loan amount with no interest and no monthly payments. It is forgivable at a rate of 20% a year.
There may be other programs you’re eligible for, so don’t limit yourself to the programs mentioned above. It would be best to consult a real estate professional, such as an all South Florida property management firm, to find out what your options are.
Requirements for Florida’s First-Time Homebuyer Programs
So, what are the requirements for applying for Florida’s programs for first-time homeowners? The obvious requirement is that you’re a first-time homebuyer, meaning you haven’t owned a home in the last three years, or you’ve only ever owned a mobile home. You may also be eligible if you’ve only ever owned a home with someone else, such as a past spouse.
Furthermore, the price of the property and your income must be below the county’s limits. For example, if you plan to purchase a home in Miami, it must not cost more than the current price ceiling of $352,000 (according to miamigov.com) for existing and new construction homes. Due to the myths about buying new construction homes, people ignore new construction homes but it might be a great deal. A property management company can help determine the most up-to-date price ceiling in the county where you plan to buy a home.
Another requirement for first-time homebuyers in Florida is to meet the maximum debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. This will depend on the homebuyer program, but in general, it will be set by the lender.
In general, regardless of where you reside in Florida, the requirements to qualify for first-time homebuyer benefits are:
- You must have a good credit score (at least 620).
- The property you plan to buy must be in Florida.
- The property must be considered as your primary residence. (This means it can’t be an investment property).
- You must complete the education course.
How to Apply for First-Time Homebuyer Programs
Below, we’ve broken down the step-by-step of how to apply for Florida’s first-time homebuyer programs:
#1 Find Out if You Qualify
Figure out what programs you’re eligible for by using Florida Housing’s Homebuyers Wizard. You’ll need to submit your income, the number of persons in your household, and the county in which you intend to purchase a house.
#2 Choose an Approved Lender
A list of cooperating lenders will be available to you if you’re buying a home via homebuyer programs. Keep in mind that who you choose can determine how much you’ll have to pay for your home, so choose wisely. You do not need to work with the first lender you find. First, create a pool of potential lenders and then narrow down your options to ensure you get the best mortgage rate.
#3 Choose a Real Estate Agent
The FHFC has a list of real estate agents who can help you choose a home and navigate the FHFC’s various programs. Their real estate agents can help you through the whole process, from choosing the right program to negotiating deals.
#4 Take the Homebuyer Education Course
To buy a home under Florida’s homebuyer program, you must complete the pre-purchase education course. It should be conducted by a HUD-approved certified housing counselor.
#5 Avail Yourself of Down Payment Assistance (Optional)
When buying a home through the Homebuyer Program, you can opt for down payment assistance, which is a second mortgage that covers some of the upfront and closing costs.
#6 Complete Your Loan
Once you’ve chosen a home and have filled out the application form for first-time homebuyers, your lender will help you complete the process. If everything checks out, you’ll be able to close on the mortgage, buy your home, and get your keys in no time.
Maintain Your Home With an All South Florida Property Management Firm
Buying a home through the homebuyer program takes multiple steps, so once you’ve bought your home, it would be in your best interest to maintain it. It can be beneficial to partner with an all South Florida property management company that can conduct preventive maintenance on your behalf, particularly if you’re busy with other aspects of life. Most companies have a tried-and-tested property maintenance plan or checklist to keep your property in tip-top shape. Additionally, because they’re in the business of property maintenance, you can rest assured that they’ll tackle every aspect of your property – even the ones you’ll likely overlook.
At Luxury Property Care, we offer premium property maintenance services in South Florida. We’ll make sure your hard-earned home is well-maintained so you and your family can reside it in for years. Call (561) 944 – 2992 or complete our contact form for more information on our all South Florida property management services.