Like most other adults in America, Florida first time home buyers have many options available when it comes to home buying assistance programs; the only problem is that the majority of people are completely unaware that these programs even exist. Of those that do, the majority of them are unaware that often programs can be combined. Just because you qualify for one program doesn’t mean that you are excluded from all the others.
When Jim and I were about to get married, we wanted to buy a home. We had paid off all our debt, had great credit scores, but did not have enough money for a full down payment. But Jim is a Vietnam veteran, so we qualified for a VA loan, which meant we could buy a home with little or no down payment.
So two days after we came home from our honeymoon, we were able to move into our first home, a condominium with a yard big enough for our first dog, Miss Scarlett, the first of many silly dogs who have been a part of our lives. It was perfect for us. And when we had saved enough money for a full down payment on a single-family home, we were able to get a great sales price on our condo because the loan was assumable.
There are a number of great programs that can help people attain home-ownership. To be clear, I am not talking about subprime mortgages, which were huge factors in the financial crisis that we are still recovering from. I am talking about programs that can help people with low and moderate incomes with good credit become homeowners.
Here is how it works in Florida. Prior to 1992, only federal funds were available for financing development projects for low and moderate income households. The William E. Sadowski Act created a dedicated source of revenue to augment these funds, which has led to a tremendous increase in the amount of affordable housing.
One of the methods of assistance is forgivable down payments, which work as incentives for families and individuals to purchase and maintain residence in a home with a payment that they can sustain. Most down payment assistance programs are a second (or sometimes even a third) mortgage with a 0% interest rate. The loan is forgiven over time, so as long as the family maintains the residence, there is no payment due and eventually the mortgage is forgiven. If the family sells the home, either part or all of the assistance must be repaid.
Some down payment assistance programs can be combined, and we have seen people qualify for up to $35,000. Many people also incorrectly assume that they are not low or moderate income families. Some programs have household income limits of up to $88,620.
So it pays to do your research. There are programs through the city of Jacksonville, the state of Florida, numerous financial institutions and many employers.
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