First Time Home Buyer Programs in Florida

Florida First Time Home Buyer Programs

Are you thinking of buying your first home in Florida?  Do you need help coming up with the required down payment? Would a program designed specifically to help first time buyers be of interest? Would some much needed financial assistance and incentives make it easier for you to qualify for a first mortgage? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’ll want to learn about the various programs that are available to you. It will be well worth your time to educate yourself about the programs that the State of Florida provides.

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program was created by Title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974. The primary statutory objective of the program is to develop viable communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for persons of low- and moderate-income. This general objective is achieved by concentrating on activities which benefit low- and moderate-income families. The program can also aid in the prevention or elimination of slums or blight, and under unique circumstances, the State may also use its funds to meet urgent community development needs. A need is considered urgent if it poses a serious and immediate threat to the health or welfare of the community and has arisen in the past 18 months.

Here is the contact info for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity:

Department of Economic Opportunity
107 East Madison Street
Caldwell Building
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-4120
Phone: 850-245-7105

An Ample Offering of Local Grants in Florida

There are multiple grant programs designed specifically for people that meet certain requirements, such as grants for people with disabilities so they can continue to live independently at home. It is worth visiting HUD’s website to see what assistance is currently available. For your convenience, simply go to here.

Here is the contact information for the HUD office in Florida:

Jacksonville Field Office
Charles East Bennett Federal Building
400 West Bay Street
Suite 1015
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Phone: (904) 232-2627
Fax: (904) 232-3759

Here are the details of all the local programs in Florida:

Alachula County State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP) (352) 374-5249

Baker County- State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) (904) 259-3613

Financial assistance will be provided to homeowners whose houses are not in compliance
with the local housing code or Section 8 Minimum Quality Standards, or are not accessible based upon household handicap and who are unable to finance the repairs from their own funds. Owners are not precluded from utilizing SHIP funds in conjunction with other funds to meet needs which cannot be covered by other financing programs.

Bay County State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP) (850) 234-6358

Boca Raton State Housing Initiatives Partnership Homebuyer Assistance Program (SHIP) (561) 393-7758

All applicants must complete an approved first-time homebuyer workshop prior to applying. Approved workshops are those that are at least 6 hours long, and conducted in a classroom setting. Approved workshops are offered by the following agencies. Call them for schedules, locations, and fees (if any).

Bonita Springs Area Housing Development Corporation- SHIP Down Payment / Closing Cost Assistance (SHIP) (239) 652-7938

Bradenton Housing Assistance Program (HAP) (941) 714-7509

Very low-income families (i.e. families with incomes below 50% of area median income) and a few specific categories of families with incomes up to 80% of the area median income. These include families that are already assisted under the 1937 U.S. Housing Act, such as families physically displaced by public housing demolition, and owners opting out of project based section 8 Housing assistance payments (HAP) contracts. (HUD determines median income levels for each area annually.)

Brevard County First Time Home Buyer Program (321) 633-207

· Must be located in Brevard County.
· Can be a new home or an existing home. The assistance may not be used to purchase a mobile home.
· Property must be owner-occupied or vacant
· Short sales are not permitted UNLESS the seller/lender has already approved the sales price.
· For existing home purchases, C.H.I. will conduct an inspection to identify code-related repairs, such as roof,
plumbing & electrical. ALL repairs identified during the inspection must be completed and approved prior to

Cape Coral Down Payment Assistance Program (DPAP) (239) 573-1222

Purpose of Program
The City of Cape Coral will provide down payment/closing cost assistance to first time home buyers purchasing existing homes. A portion of the assistance will be reserved to assist clients with minor repairs/replacement (not cosmetic in nature) identified in the home inspection.

Maximum Amount of Assistance
Down Payment/Closing Cost Assistance is available to applicants who are very-low and low income as determined by guidelines provided by US HUD. (see Income Guidelines Chart below).

Citrus County SHIP Down payment Closing Costs Assistance Program (DCCAP) (352) 527-5377

Clearwater Down Payment/Closing Cost Assistance Program (DPCCA) (727) 562-4030

The Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable Program may be able to help millions of homeowners refinance or modify their mortgage payments to a level that may be more affordable now as well as in the future. If you are looking for a way to make homeownership more affordable for you, the Home Affordable Refinance or the Home Affordable Modification may be able to help.

Columbia County State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP) (386) 362-4115

Deltona SHIP Purchase Assistance Program (386) 561-2200

All homebuyers must obtain a first mortgage approval from a Lender or Bank stating amount of mortgage and interest rate. Applicant must be credit–ready and have sufficient income required to obtain financing from a participating lender.

DeSoto County State Housing Initiative Program (SHIP) (863) 993-4858

The DeSoto County Housing Department provides funding for the purchase of homes and repair or rehabilitation of homes through several sources for qualified families. The Housing Department administers the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) funds from Florida Housing Finance Corporation and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) from the Florida Department of Community Affairs. DeSoto County also is a member of the Heartland HOME Consortia.

Escambia County- SHIP Affordable Housing Initiative Program New Construction (AHIP) (850) 458-0464

A homeownership program for low and moderate income families that helps them acquire affordable housing and land use. In addition, it provides their members with credit counseling and SHIP (State Housing Initiative Program) assistance.

Flagler County State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP) (386) 437-7484

The State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program provides funds to local governments as an incentive to create partnerships that produce and preserve affordable homeownership and multi-family housing. The program is designed to serve very-low- to moderate-income families.

Gainesville Central Florida Community Action Agency, Inc. HOME Purchase Deferred Grant Assistance Program (HOME) (352) 373-7667

Gainesville Neighborhood Housing & Development Corporation (NHDC) HOME Subsidy Program (HSP) (352) 380-9112

Gainesville SHIP Down payment Assistance Program (SHIP) (352) 334-5026

Once the SHIP Application package is received by the SHIP Office, the Program Coordinator begins reviewing the information, verifying your income certification, calculating exactly how much Down Payment Assistance you qualify for, and preparing any SHIP notes and mortgages needed for your real estate closing. This typically takes up to two (2) weeks. The SHIP office will send you a commitment letter if you are income eligible for SHIP.

Hardee County, State Housing Initiatives Partnership Home Ownership Assistance Program (SHIP) (863) 773-6349

Hendry County State Housing Initiative Partnership Program (SHIP) (863) 675-5297

Creation of the Plan is for the purpose of meeting the housing needs of the very low, low and moderate income households, to expand production of and preserve affordable housing, to further the housing element of the local government comprehensive plan specific to affordable housing.

Hernando County SHIP Down Payment Assistance Program (DPAP) (352) 754-4160

A multifaceted program funded through the State of Florida designed to increase affordable housing construction and homeownership in Hernando County; the SHIP Program has been increasingly successful since 1993. The SHIP Program offers three programs that include a Multi-Family Development Program, a Homeowner Rehabilitation Program and a Down Payment Assistance Program.

Hillsborough County Heritage Housing Inc First Time Homebuyer Program (FTHP) (813) 961-5990

Hillsborough County Housing & Education Alliance First Time Homebuyers Program (813) 744-5557

Hillsborough County Tampa Bay CDC Assistance Program (AP) (813) 744-5557

Tampa Bay CDC is a HUD-approved non-profit organization whose mission is to promote homeownership opportunities for low to moderate income households in the Tampa Bay area. If you are looking to purchase a home in Pinellas County or within the City limits of Clearwater and Largo and you meet the income and eligibility criteria, we may have funds available to assist you with your downpayment and/or closing costs.

Lakeland Keystone Challenge Fund Inc State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP) (863) 682-1025

Homes are for sale in the Polk County Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). Homes are being purchased in targeted communities throughout the county and are being fully rehabilitated for sale to low and moderate income homebuyers. Assistance is up to 20% or possibly more of the home purchase price plus additional help with closing costs!

Lee County SHIP Down Payment/Closing Cost Assistance (239) 652-7938

The amount of assistance is 10% of the purchase price appraised value, not to exceed $10,000.  Funds are to be used toward down payment and/or closing costs. If you meet HUD’s income qualifications, don’t currently own a home and are purchasing an existing single family home in Lee County as your primary residence, you may qualify for assistance.  This program is not for investors.

Levy County SHIP Purchase Assistance (SHIP) (352) 486-5268

Manatee County Infill Assistance Program (941) 749-3030

The following items will be required to be submitted with application request:

Borrowers Summary Sheet
Downpayment Assistance Application Form
Good Faith Estimate
Lender approval/ loan commitment documents (pre-qualifications will not be accepted)
Fully executed Sales Contract ( addendums and proof of escrow deposits required )
Copy of the appraisal (if available at the time of application)
Household income verifications and documentation
Asset verifications and documentation
Closing agent information ( location, phone # , fax # and a contact person )
Homebuyer education certificate (Manatee County approved agency)
Photo I.D. and Social Security cards for all household members (birth certificates for children)

Manatee County SHIP Down Payment & Closing Cost Assistance Program (DAP) (941) 749-3030

Melbourne Purchase Assistance Program (PAP) (321) 253-0053

Monroe County First Time Homebuyer Program (SHIP) (305) 292-1221

If you are thinking of buying home, The Housing Council is the perfect place to start. We help first time buyers become better consumers by learning the basics of home purchase and educate you on different grant programs. Regardless of what lender you may be working with, give us a call. The Housing Council First Time Home Buyer staff has over 30 years experience in the Monroe County Real-estate market and can explain the home buying process to you for from beginning to end. We offer education, one-on-one counseling, credit repair and possible financial assistance towards purchasing a new home. We will teach you everything you need to know so you can achieve your dream with confidence.

Multi County Autographed Book Give-Away for Inner City Youth Inc Affordable Housing Program (407) 426-8597

Multi County Clearwater Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. Down Payment Assistance Program (DPAP) (727) 442-4155

Okaloosa County Okaloosa Community Development Corporation Down Payment/Closing Cost Assistance Program (850) 651-7376

Home purchase assistance (for down payment – limit of $10,000 and/or closing costs) and home repair (not to exceed $20,000). I. Provides housing assistance under the State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) program. The SHIP program is the heart of the William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Act which was adopted by the State Legislature in July 1992. Its goal is to make home ownership available to a wider circle of citizens by providing the down payment and/or closing costs to those who qualify for a mortgage. Each house or townhouse must also have some repairs that need to be done or were completed in the last 12 months. Who is eligible to participate in the SHIP program? Any resident of Okaloosa County who meets the federal income guidelines for low or very low income is eligible to apply for SHIP assistance.

Okeechobee County State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP) (863) 763-6731

Orange County Down Payment Assistance Program (DPAP) (407) 836-4240

The Down Payment Assistance Program provides assistance to qualified first time homebuyers for down payment and closing costs associated with purchasing a home. The amount of assistance provided will be determined based on your household income. A household can qualify as very low income, or low income. Please refer to the income chart in the Learn More section of this web page to access the income limits. The amount of assistance available is from $7,500 to $10,000. All applicants must complete a pre-purchase homebuyer’s education program, and secure a first mortgage. The property to be purchased must be located in Orange County, outside the city limits of Orlando.

Orlando Down payment Assistance Program (DAP) (407) 246-2708

The City of Orlando’s Down Payment Assistance Program is available to eligible very low, low and moderate income first time homebuyers for the purchase of a new or existing unit. The property must be located within the City limits of Orlando (see Address Locator). Depending on the gross household income, assistance may be $5,000, $10,000 or $14,999.

Osceola County State Housing Initiatives Partnership Housing Assistance Program (SHIP) (407) 343-3105

To qualify, a buyer must:

Not have owned a home in the last three years.
Attend a Home Buyers Orientation Session and complete an approved Home Buyers Education Workshop.
Have a minimum of $1,000 to contribute toward the costs of buying a home.
Have an annual income that falls within the area median income guidelines as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Additional terms may apply. (See Income Guidelines).

Palm Bay Down Payment Assistance Program (DPAP) (321) 409-8181

HOME Downpayment Assistant Program Funds may be used for closing costs, down payment assistance and rehabilitation, if needed.  Priority will be given to very low; and low-income families.

  • Very low-income first-time home-buyers will receive up to $20,000 in total assistance with a minimum of $10,000 going toward the down payment and closing costs.  The remaining $7,948 can either also be directed toward the down payment and closing costs or, if needed, be spent on assistance for code-related rehabilitation work on the house.
  • Low-income first-time homebuyers will receive up to $15,000 in total assis-tance with a minimum of $7,500 going toward the down payment and closing costs. The remaining $5,448 can either also be directed toward the down payment and closing costs or, if needed, be spent on assistance for code-related rehabilitation work on the house.

Palm Beach County Hardship “B” Second Mortgage Subsidy Program (SMS) (561) 233-3650

Pasco County Homebuyer Assistance Program (HAP) (813) 847-8970

Pasco County has received $55 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help homebuyers purchase foreclosed and abandoned homes in order to stabilize neighborhoods. Pasco County is using these funds to assist homebuyers with their downpayment and closing costs so they can get into a safe, decent and standard home. This is a program for homebuyers, not investors. We want more homeowners in Pasco County.

Pinellas CountyTampa Bay Community Development Corporation Homeownership Assistance Program (HAP) (727) 442-7075

Polk County Keystone Challenge Fund Inc State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP) (863) 682-1025

Santa Rosa County SHIP Deferred Program Loan (850) 595-8910

Santa Rosa County recognizes the need to provide residents with a variety of quality affordable housing choices. The Housing Program’s primary purpose is to improve housing opportunities for the benefit of low and moderate income families. The goal of the Housing Program is to create partnerships, maximize resources and identify new strategies to develop and preserve affordable housing.

Sarasota County Down Payment Assistance Program (DPAP) (941) 951-3640

The Sarasota Down Payment Assistance Program provides a Shared Appreciation Mortgage Loan (SAM) to low-income first-time homebuyers by paying a portion of their down payment and closing costs associated with the purchase of a home. The funds must be used to purchase an existing single-family residence or condominium.

St. Cloud Deer Creek Subdivision Affordable Housing Program (AHP) (850) 488-4197

St. Cloud Deer Creek Subdivision HOME Ownership Program (HOME) (850) 488-4197

St. Petersburg Hope VI Program (HVI) (727) 893-7615

St. Petersburg W.I.N Homebuyers Down payment & Closing Cost Assistance Program (WIN) (727) 893-7247

The City of St. Petersburg offers financial assistance to first time home buyers who purchase and occupy a new or existing eligible residential property located within the city’s municipal boundaries and those who not received prior financial assistance from the City of St. Petersburg. Second mortgage loans are available to assist the home buyer with closing costs, down payment and to reduce or “buy-down” the first mortgage interest rate.   Down payment and closing cost assistance loans are provided to income eligible applicants at a  zero percent (0%) interest rate.  Repayment terms and loan amounts are determined by the sales price of the home.

Tampa Deferred Payment Loan (DPL) (813) 274-7977

The City of Tampa Housing and Community Development Division (HCD) administers
the City’s housing programs. The City offers mortgage in the form of a Deferred Payment
Loan (DPL) to income-qualified homebuyers purchasing a single-family home within the
City of Tampa.

Union County Suwannee River Economic Council Inc SHIP Program (SHIP) (386) 362-4115

Volusia County State Housing Initiatives Partnership Down Payment Assistance Program (SHIP) (386) 736-5955

Florida Housing administers the State Housing Initiatives Partnership program (SHIP), which provides funds to local governments as an incentive to create partnerships that produce and preserve affordable homeownership and multifamily housing. The program was designed to serve very low, low and moderate income families.

Winterhaven Keystone Challenge Fund Inc State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP) (863) 682-1025

About Jennifer Cribsly

I'm a former real estate broker who specialized in helping first time buyers be able to purchase a home. Now full time mom, part time real estate owner/investor.
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