Florida Down Payment Assistance Programs

A mortgage refinance is an excellent way to reduce your monthly mortgage payment by accessing a lower interest rate. Given that Florida has no state income tax and lower property taxes than the national average, a reduced monthly payment can significantly cut your expenses, helping you stretch your paycheck or pension further.

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Benefits of Down Payment Assistance in Florida

Down payment assistance offers potential Florida homebuyers many benefits:

Lower Closing Costs

When down payments are paid partially or in full, less money is needed at closing. This makes homeownership more accessible and allows homeowners to put more money toward repairs or emergencies. Some down payment assistance programs also provide closing cost assistance.

Potential Tax Benefits

Mortgage interest and property taxes are tax deductible, reducing the amount of taxes owed each year. Many first-time homebuyer assistance programs offer first-time homebuyer tax credits.

Avoid Mortgage Insurance

Many mortgage loans with less than 20% down payments require mortgage insurance. With certain down payment assistance programs, you can bypass monthly mortgage insurance costs depending on the amount received and the total purchase price. This creates a lower monthly payment on your mortgage loan.

More Money for Emergencies

If you have any money saved for a down payment, down payment assistance can help you save that money for home repairs and emergencies.

Lower Monthly Mortgage Payments

Down payments help lower your monthly mortgage payments. The more you pay up front, the less you’ll owe each month.

Why Apply for a Florida Down Payment Assistance Program with F5 Mortgage?

F5 Mortgage is a mortgage broker specializing in down payment assistance for a wide variety of Florida homebuyers.

What sets us apart from the rest?

  • We offer personalized mortgage solutions to help you find the mortgage programs that best meet your needs, including down payment assistance. We’re knowledgeable about down payment programs and grants in your area and can help you combine the best mortgage offers with these down payment assistance programs. 
  • Our streamlined application process makes applying for mortgage loans as quick and painless as possible. You can apply online, by phone, or by chat any time depending on your preference. You can even speak with one of our Home Loan Experts at any step in the process.
  • At F5, our expert guidance walks you through each mortgage program option and how to qualify, without any high-pressure selling. Any time you want to chat with us about your mortgage process, we’re here. We also keep in touch with your lender and realtor to ensure they’re informed and up to date.
  • Using our online system, you can instantly update your pre-approval letter, even on late nights or weekends. That way, you can make quick offers on a home without having to wait for pre-approval updates.
  • Partnering with F5 Mortgage offers additional benefits such as better loan terms, reduced fees, and more. We partner with over two dozen lenders to ensure you get the best rate possible. All the lender shopping is done on our end, so you don’t have to worry about the research. You can also choose when and where to close your loan and take advantage of our unique verification process for quick and accurate loan underwriting.
  • We can help you find a real estate agent. Unsure about how to find or choose a realtor? No problem. We have a trusted network of real estate agents we can connect you with at no additional cost.
  • When it’s time to make an offer on a home, we’ll go to bat for you. By working with your realtor, your loan officer, and our account managers, we’ll make your offer sound stellar to the sellers and their agent. We’ll also answer any questions they might have to make your offer stand out.

Our lender partnerships are trusted and unique, and we only work with the best. That way, we can secure the best mortgage for you at the best rates possible.


Down Payment Assistance Programs in Florida

Down payment assistance programs work differently for different people. Factors that affect the assistance you can receive include where you live, your credit score, how many homes you’ve purchased previously, and more.

Regardless of these factors, all down payment assistance programs share the goal of reducing down payment and closing cost amounts to make homeownership more accessible.

Some programs target low-income buyers, first-time homebuyers, or those who haven’t owned a home in over three years. Other programs target applicants with certain occupations, such as law enforcement officers or educators.

Regardless of your situation, F5 Mortgage can find the best down payment assistance program in Florida for your needs.

Below, we’ll review some of the main down payment assistance programs in Florida:

Florida Down Payment Assistance Programs

The Florida Assist (FL Assist)

The Florida Assist down payment assistance program provides up to $10,000 for conventional loans, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, Veterans Affairs (VA) loans, and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans.

It is a 0%, non-amortizing, deferred second mortgage. It isn’t forgivable, but repayment is deferred until you sell, transfer, refinance, or pay off your home. You must also occupy the home as a primary residence or the second mortgage will be due immediately.

FL Assist is offered to first-time homebuyers and those who have not purchased a home in at least three years.

The Florida Homeownership Loan Program (FL HLP)

The FL HLP also offers up to $10,000 of down payment assistance as a second mortgage. However, this second mortgage option is fully amortizing and comes with 3% interest and a 15-year term. It also requires a monthly payment.

Until you sell, transfer, pay off, or no longer occupy your home as a primary residence, the unpaid principal of your FL HLP second mortgage functions as a deferred payment loan. Since this second mortgage type carries a monthly payment, it may be factored into debt-to-income ratios.

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

These down payment and closing cost assistance programs offer 3-5% of the total mortgage as a forgivable second mortgage. The rate of forgiveness is 20% over five years, and you must continue to occupy the home during that time.

This differs from the programs mentioned above, as the amount is forgivable as long as the conditions are met. In other words, you don’t have to worry about paying off your mortgage assistance loan as long as you remain in your home.

Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program

The Florida Hometown Heroes loan is a Florida homeownership loan program specifically for frontline community workers, including law enforcement, firefighters, active military, veterans, healthcare professionals, childcare professionals, and educators. Applicable employees must work full time and be employed by a Florida-based employer.

Those who qualify for this program can receive a lower mortgage interest rate on FHA, Rural Development (RD), VA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac first mortgages. They may also receive lower upfront fees, closing costs, down payments, and no origination or discount points.

This program offers up to $35,000 in assistance, depending on income. It accounts for 5% of the first mortgage as a second mortgage and defers up to 30 years, at which point it must be paid.

State Housing Initiatives Program (SHIP)

These are grants funded by the state to reduce down payment and closing cost amounts. City and county governments can provide specific information about down payment and closing cost assistance, as it varies locally.

SHIP grants are typically offered to low-income or first-time homebuyers and are designed to encourage homeownership, particularly in low-population areas.

Own a Home Opportunity Program and Grant Program

These down payment and closing cost assistance programs offer $7,500-$10,000 depending on location. They are subject to income limits and purchase price limits, and the recipient must obtain a mortgage through an approved lender as a deferred zero-interest loan. Income limits vary by location. 

For example, the Palm Beach County income limit for this program is $98,100, regardless of household size.

This program provides up to 5% of the total loan amount and does not have to be repaid. However, recipients are subject to a minimum credit score requirement of 640.

Down Payment Assistance Programs by Location

There are many down payment and closing cost assistance programs in Florida, from South Florida to the Panhandle.

The following examples highlight a few counties and cities where they exist, but F5 Mortgage can direct you to the closest eligible down payment assistance program near you.

Location does matter, but programs are generally available in every county in Florida.

Florida Down Payment Assistance Programs

Volusia County

Programs in Orange County grant anywhere from $10,000 to $70,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance, depending on your income. Very low-income buyers can receive up to $70,000.

Similar to the programs mentioned above, assistance in Orange County is provided via a 10-year deferred loan, due if the home is sold, rented, refinanced, or paid off before the loan expires. The maximum loan amount is typically $300,000, depending on house location.

The specifics of this program change often, so check with lenders and program officials near you for the most updated information.

Orange County

The down payment and closing cost program in Volusia County offers up to $44,000 in down payment assistance and $6,000 for closing costs. These funds are offered as zero-interest deferred loans.

As with the others, this program features certain limits and requirements. For example, the loan term cannot exceed 15 years. Payment is due after that time, or earlier if the owner sells, transfers, or no longer occupies the home.


In Gainesville, this Florida housing down payment and closing cost assistance program provides up to $15,000, but you must live within city limits.

Unlike many other mortgage assistance loans, these loans are forgivable after five years. However, recipients must complete homebuyer education programs and a training workshop to qualify.

Who Qualifies for Down Payment Assistance in Florida?

As you can see, there are many down payment and closing cost assistance programs in Florida, and eligibility varies by program. For more specific eligibility criteria information, discuss the details with your lender or broker.

Some of the more common criteria are discussed below:

Income Limits

Every Florida homeownership loan program offering assistance with down payments or closing costs features income limits. For many programs, your income must be at or below the median income for your area. These income limits help make homeownership more accessible to those who need the most help.

Credit Score

Many mortgage assistance programs require a minimum credit score of 640. However, some programs cater to those with less-than-ideal credit and require scores below a certain threshold. Even if you don’t have good credit, you may still qualify for a down payment mortgage loan in Florida.

Homebuyer Education

Some of the programs discussed in this article award assistance only to recipients who undertake homebuyer education and training workshops. While these classes aren’t particularly long or difficult, they are required for certain assistance types and must be facilitated by approved teachers or programs.

Occupation Requirements

For certain programs, such as the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing program, specific occupation requirements must be met. Check with the requirements of your program to find out if this applies to you.

Purchase Price Limits

Many programs feature purchase price limits, typically around $300,000, as they’re aimed at smaller families with lower incomes or first-time homebuyers looking for starter homes.

Property Location

Properties in certain neighborhoods and regions qualify for down payment or closing cost assistance while others may not. Qualifying areas typically include lower-income neighborhoods or low-population areas.

First-Time Homebuyer Programs

As you can tell from the name, first-time homebuyer loans offer down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers. This can include those who have not purchased a home in three years or more and do not currently own a home. Though it’s not a requirement for all programs, most programs will not approve applicants who already own other homes or have purchased and sold homes recently.

How to Apply for Down Payment Assistance in Florida?

To apply for down payment assistance mortgage loans in Florida, follow these steps:

1. Consult F5 Mortgage to determine which Florida homeownership loan program works best for you, your income, and your location.

2. Get pre-approved for your mortgage loan. Pre-approval can be obtained online through F5 Mortgage and can be updated as needed at any time for a fast, easy, and stress-free experience.

Pre-approval typically requires detailed information and documents proving income and debt, such as:

    • Bank statements
    • Paystubs (if applicable)
    • Income tax statements
    • Social security number (for credit checks)
    • Student debt information (if applicable)
    • Credit card debt information (if applicable)

3. Take any required homebuyer education classes and programs. If they’re required by your assistance program, your lender will give you the location and details for these homebuyer education classes. Remember: These programs are not difficult or stressful. They’re designed to teach you how to find a mortgage and buy a home effectively. Most closing cost assistance programs require attendance of at least one of these programs.

4. Find a realtor and discuss what you’re looking for in an ideal home, considering purchase-price limits and pre-approval amounts. If you’d like assistance with this step, F5 mortgage can work with you to find a realtor at no additional charge.

5. Next, your realtor will help you search for your ideal home. Once you find it, you will go through the final steps of the mortgage application process with your lender and account manager at F5 Mortgage. This is when down payment assistance will be granted if you’re eligible.

6. Attend the real estate closing with your realtor, lender, and account manager. In this stage of the process, you will sign and take ownership of your home and pay any upfront closing costs if needed.

7. Become a homeowner!

Prepare for Your Mortgage Application 

The mortgage application process will go smoother if you’re prepared. The following tips will help familiarize you with the home-buying process, and our F5 Mortgage team is ready to answer any questions you have along the way.

  • Prepare all documentation needed to qualify for your mortgage beforehand.

This includes proof of income, debt proof, bank statements, and more. The online application process will give you more information about what documents you’ll need.

  • Lower your debt-to-income ratio if possible.

If you have more debt than income, this will make paying off your mortgage impossible, and lenders can see that. Work to pay off as much outstanding debt as possible before applying for your mortgage to help you get approved. Your account manager will help you understand what debt-to-income ratio to aim for.

  • Have solid employment and income.

Lenders will want to see that you have been employed with a steady income for at least a year. You will need to prove this through offer letters, paystubs, income tax information, or other relevant documentation. Solid employment shows lenders you’re reliable and can afford to pay your mortgage.

  • Check your credit report.

To be extra prepared, take a look at your credit report and address any issues, errors, or debts if possible. Knowing your credit score beforehand will help you be proactive and avoid surprises. Certain down payment assistance programs won’t consider you if your credit score is below a certain amount (usually around 640). Paying off debts, addressing credit report errors, and making on-time payments can help raise your credit score.

  • Familiarize yourself with the housing market and current market interest rates.

Knowing what mortgage rates to expect can help you spot when you’re being offered a decent or competitive rate. Mortgage brokers such as F5 Mortgage will also help you nail the best rate, performing lender research on your behalf to make the process easier.

  • Know what you can afford.

Mortgage calculators can help give you a realistic idea of what your monthly payment will be, considering the cost of insurance, mortgage rates, and more. F5 Mortgage’s website offers a mortgage calculator and other tools to help with this step.

  • Know what type of mortgage loan you want.

You may not know what programs you qualify for in terms of down payment or closing cost assistance, but you should have an idea of what type of mortgage you want (15-year, 30-year, adjustable, fixed). If you aren’t sure, familiarize yourself with these terms before you apply.

Here’s a quick breakdown:


As the name implies, these mortgages must be paid off within 15 years of your home purchase. With a shorter loan period, monthly payments are higher, but interest rates tend to be better for shorter loans.


30-year mortgages allow you more time to pay off your loan. Plus, you’ll enjoy lower monthly payments. However, interest rates tend to be higher with longer loan terms.


An ARM does not have a fixed interest rate, as the name implies. Instead, your interest rate will adjust with the average market rates. This is ideal for those who receive a low introductory rate and plan to pay off their mortgage quickly.


With a fixed-rate mortgage, your interest rate is locked, ensuring you won’t encounter any surprise interest hikes. In other words, your monthly payment will remain the same throughout the life of the mortgage, unless you refinance.

  • Compare lenders.

Different lenders offer different mortgage rates. Finding the best terms, rates, and team can make all the difference when paying off your loan. If you work with F5 Mortgage, we can compare lenders for you with your best interests in mind, giving you a faster and stress-free process.

  • Do some independent research on down payment assistance programs in your area.

It never hurts to be proactive. Each Florida city and county offers different programs, in addition to the state-wide programs. Knowing about the programs and their eligibility requirements before speaking to a lender can give you a clear idea of what type of assistance you want and need.

  • Decide where you want to live.

If you want to avoid certain neighborhoods or areas, mention this to your real estate agent. If you’d like to be near a school or within a certain distance of your job, these are important details to mention as well. Certain programs require purchasing a home in certain locations, so you’ll want to get clear on where you want to be before starting your search.

  • Know what type of housing you want.

Are you looking for a single-family home, attached home, or condo? How many bedrooms and bathrooms would you like? Think about your wants vs. needs in a home. Knowing these beforehand can save a lot of time in the home-search process with your real estate agent, because you can rule out the homes that definitely won’t work for you and your family. Since many assistance programs require occupying a home for at least five years, it’s important to find something that will work for you.

  • Save as much money as you can.

Even with assistance for a down payment or closing costs, you will likely still owe some amount at closing. Plus, you’ll need to afford your monthly payments. Saving up beforehand is essential, both for loan approval and for affording your home in the long term. Having savings on hand will also help you with home repairs or emergencies if they come up.

FAQs About Florida Down Payment Assistance

Do you have to pay back down payment assistance in Florida?

It depends. Different programs have different policies. Often, down payment assistance functions as a second mortgage or deferred loan that you must pay back after the first mortgage is paid off. However, others function as grants that do not have to be paid back, while other loans are forgivable after a certain number of years. Be sure to discuss this with your lender to find out if your assistance needs to be paid back (and when).

What is the $35,000 down payment assistance program in Florida?

The Hometown Heroes Housing Program. This is the main down payment assistance program in Florida, and it offers up to $35,000 or 5% of the first mortgage as a second mortgage. This program requires full-time Florida employment as a first responder, law enforcement officer, firefighter, healthcare professional, childcare professional, or educator.

What is the $10,000 grant for first-time home buyers in Florida?

While many programs offer $10,000 or more, Florida Housing’s Preferred Grants provide 3-4% of the purchase price for first-time homebuyers to use for closing costs or a down payment. Since it’s a grant, it does not need to be paid back. However, it must be used with Florida Housing’s first-time homebuyer loans. Your lender or broker can walk you through the different types of grants available in your area to provide more details.

What is the income limit for down payment assistance in Florida?

Income limits vary from program to program, but they are typically set below the area median income (AMI). For example, if the area median income is $50,000, you must earn less than that per year to qualify for assistance in Florida. Ask your lender about the AMI in your area and what the program you’re applying to requires. Keep in mind: Some programs don’t have income limits.

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