Over the past several months, the governor and the Florida Legislature have been floating an idea to help some of our most important neighbors get a leg up in the real estate market. Called the Hometown Heroes Housing Program, the idea was to provide financial support in real estate transactions for critical workers, first responders, and other essential workers. Unfortunately, many of the people that we need the most and that provide the most help to the community often make the least amount of money. Especially in this real estate market that is seeing home prices in Florida doubling and tripling what they have been in recent years, and mortgage interest rates skyrocketing as well, the state of Florida decided that something needed to be done to help this group of people be able to afford to live where they work. After months of speculation about what form this assistance would take, Governor Ron DeSantis announced this week that the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program has been given the greenlight and will go into effect this summer.
The Florida Legislature worked in conjunction with Florida Realtors to come up with a plan of action for the final Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program and how it would work to benefit the community. The final version of the bill is aimed at lessening the burden of having to come up with thousands out of pocket, and upfront, to pay for down payments and closing costs. As the bill is written, those with qualifying professions are able to receive a 0% interest loan of up to 5% of their mortgage amount (or up to $25,000) to go towards these costs. This amount typically is far more than an average citizen can receive for down payment assistance. The program was awarded $100 million in funding through the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
There are, of course, some restrictions in place regarding qualifications under the bill. Though the list includes around 50 professions, only those considered an essential worker are eligible to apply under the FHHHP. Included among those are nurses, police officers, teachers, firefighters and EMTs. Click for a full list of professions included under the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program.
Additionally, there are other restrictions that vary by county. Each county has designated limits on purchase prices of homes. If the purchase price of the home exceeds the limits set by your county, the buyer is automatically ineligible to apply for FHHHP. This goes for income as well. Each county has an income limit that a buyer must be below in order to qualify for FHHHP. In Monroe County, the purchase price limit is currently set at the highest level in the state at $710,700. Monroe County’s income limit is also the highest in the state at $153,750. This is great news for first responders and essential workers, as it makes the dream of buying a home in the Florida Keys more of a possibility for these citizens that provide so much to the community.
The governor announced that applications for FHHHP will be accepted by mortgage loan officers beginning June 1, 2022.
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