The Hometown Heroes Program is an initiative aimed at making homeownership in Florida more accessible for eligible workers, particularly first-time, income-qualified homebuyers. Launched by Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022, the program has since been expanded to include a broader range of potential homebuyers. In this article, we will delve into how the Hometown Heroes Program works, its benefits, and the eligibility requirements for prospective participants.
How Does The Hometown Heroes Program Work? The Hometown Heroes Program offers valuable assistance to eligible homebuyers in the form of down payment and closing cost support, with a maximum benefit of $35,000. Qualified borrowers receive an amount equivalent to 5% of their total loan when they purchase a home in the community where they are employed. This financial assistance can be applied towards various expenses, including down payments, closing costs, pre-paid tax and insurance escrows, and upfront mortgage insurance premiums.
The loan itself is structured as a 30-year, non-amortizing, deferred second mortgage, carrying a 0% interest rate. Importantly, borrowers are not required to make monthly payments or pay any interest on the assistance amount. Instead, repayment occurs when the home is sold, refinanced, the original mortgage loan is paid off, or when the homeowner no longer resides in the property as their primary residence.
Hometown Heroes Program Benefits: Participating in the Hometown Heroes Program offers several advantages for prospective homebuyers, including:
Compatibility with Various Mortgage Types: The program can be used in conjunction with FHA, VA, USDA, or conventional mortgages, providing flexibility to borrowers.
Attractive Interest Rates: Homebuyers can benefit from interest rates that are typically lower than those available in the market.
Reduced Upfront Fees: The program eliminates origination points, further reducing upfront costs.
Substantial Financial Assistance: Eligible participants can receive up to $35,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance, significantly easing the financial burden of purchasing a home.
Hometown Heroes Eligibility Requirements: To qualify for the Hometown Heroes Program, prospective homebuyers must meet specific criteria, which are as follows:
Employment: Applicants must work a minimum of 35 hours per week and hold full-time employment with a Florida-based employer. Self-employed borrowers must adhere to additional documentation and requirements.
First-Time Homebuyer: Borrowers are eligible if they have not owned a primary residence in the past three years.
Primary Residence: The property being purchased must serve as the borrower’s primary residence within 60 days of closing.
Property Type: Eligible property types include single-family residences, townhouses, condos, villas, and structures with 2-4 units. Manufactured homes are also eligible but with adjusted qualifications.
Homebuyer Education: Borrowers must attend an approved Homebuyer Education course.
Credit Score: A minimum credit score of 640 is required for applicants.
Debt-To-Income Ratio: Borrowers must maintain a debt-to-income ratio below the maximum limit of 50%.
Income Limit: Participants must meet specific income requirements, earning below 150% of the area median income.
Mortgage Lender: Homebuyers are required to work with one of Florida Housing’s participating loan officers.
It’s important to note that veterans and active-duty personnel may be exempt from certain eligibility criteria, and they are encouraged to contact their lender for additional information.
In conclusion, the Hometown Heroes Program in Florida is a valuable resource designed to make homeownership more attainable for eligible workers. By providing financial assistance, lowering upfront costs, and offering various benefits, this program aims to help individuals achieve their dream of owning a home. Prospective participants should carefully review the eligibility requirements to determine if they qualify for this advantageous program.