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First Time Home Buyers in Volusia County: Here’s What You Need to Know

06/25/2024

Buying a home in today’s market is more financially challenging than it has been in decades. Down payments, mortgages, property taxes, insurance, and other costs seem insurmountable for many home buyers, particularly first-timers.

While buying your first home can be an exciting milestone, it can also be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are numerous resources available for first-time home buyers. Working with an experienced local broker is an excellent first step. Innovative financing options, government initiatives, and other buyer assistance programs can also help you navigate turbulent home-buying waters.

Myths About Buyer Assistance Programs

First, let’s clarify some common misconceptions about first-time home buyer assistance programs, particularly those available for down payments.

  • Myth #1: Only low-income buyers qualify. Once valid, the reality today is that many loan programs accept applicants with annual incomes up to $100,000.
  • Myth #2: Assistance is only available if buying a home in certain neighborhoods. Some programs do target specific areas to revitalize communities. Still, many options have no location restrictions, and some include qualified new construction.
  • Myth #3: It isn’t easy to qualify for the programs. It does take time to apply to various programs, but most of the paperwork is identical to what you must submit when applying for a mortgage. Your broker and loan officer can provide valuable guidance.
  • Myth #4: All assistance comes from government agencies. Local, state, and federal governments do back many assistance programs, but they aren’t the only sources. Various organizations, banks and lenders, and even employers offer grants and loans.
  • Myth #5: Getting assistance makes getting a mortgage more difficult. Lenders do not discriminate against first-time home buyers who get assistance. No matter how your home purchase is funded, all you need is a sufficient down payment, making you a safer risk.
  • Myth #6: Assistance is only available for FHA loans. While many DPA programs do target FHA borrowers because of the low down payment requirements, the truth is that many programs work with FHA, conventional, VA, and USDA mortgages.

It’s also not true that seeking assistance will push back your new home’s closing date. It all depends on which type of loan you’re applying for. VA and FHA loans can take a little more time, but rarely more than a week or two. Bee Realty Corp’s experienced REALTORS® can help you understand the process and ease any concerns you might have about buying a home using an assistance program.

Where to Find First-Time Home Buyer Programs in Florida

Federal, national, and Florida-specific loan options for first-time home buyers provide a flexible and often generous way to qualify for a mortgage. While some of these programs might not currently be accepting applications, they’re sure to be available in the fall or beginning of next year, allowing you to research your options and plan accordingly.

Florida Specific Programs

  1. The 0% Florida Assist Loan Program simplifies the down payment process, and you don’t need to repay it until you sell or move out of your home, refinance, or pay off the original mortgage. However, you must have an initial mortgage to apply the loan to.
  2. HAMI (Homeownership Assistance for Moderate Income) loans offer up to $5,000 towards a down payment and closing costs. You must repay the loan over 10 years.
  3. Florida First is a low 30-year fixed-rate first mortgage that also automatically qualifies you for one of the state’s down payment assistance programs.
  4. Florida Advantage is for home buyers who have at least one disabled household member or who are purchasing properties in specific geographic areas. To qualify, you must be at or below 80% of Area Median Income (AMI).
  5. A Hometown Heroes loan is a 30-year first mortgage program for veterans, active duty personnel, and some healthcare workers, educators, and police and fire departments.
  6. HFA Preferred and HFA Advantage PLUS Second Mortgage programs let you take advantage of low down payment and closing costs for a forgivable second mortgage.

Federal First-Time Buyer Programs

  1. FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration and have lower down payment requirements. They’re available to buyers with low credit scores or no credit history, and they have limited closing costs, no prepayment penalty, and fixed or adjustable rates.
  2. USDA A government loans are insured by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture). Easy to qualify for and requiring no down payment, they enable low and moderate-income households to purchase property in eligible rural areas.
  3. VA loans are provided by private lenders and guaranteed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. They have low interest rates and require no down payment, no application fees, no monthly mortgage insurance premiums, and no cash reserves.

Grants for First-Time Home Buyers in Florida

Real estate grant funds allow first-timers to obtain thousands of dollars in free grant money that you typically never need to pay back.

  • The USDA Good Neighbor Next Door Program provides qualified buyers who are law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, or teachers with discounted homes. Designed to encourage neighborhood renewal, the program’s benefits include a 50% discount off the list price of homes in HUD’s available inventory.
  • HUD Dollar Homes allows low to moderate-income buyers to purchase vacant, foreclosed homes for just one dollar.
  • The National Homebuyers Fund is a down payment assistance program that helps buyers who can afford monthly mortgage payments but cannot meet the FHA’s 3.5% downpayment requirement.

First-Time Home Buying in Volusia County: How Bee Realty Corp Can Help

Despite the many financial challenges, buying your first home in Volusia County remains a wise investment. Buyer assistance programs help you buy now instead of waiting until you’ve saved enough for a big down payment. If you’re considering purchasing a property in one of Central Florida’s beautiful communities, contact Bee Realty Corp online or call us at 386-279-7522 to learn more about your financing options.

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