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Tampa First Time Home Buyer Programs

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Dreaming of buying your first home in Tampa? With a lively job market, high number of home buyers, and warm weather all year round, Tampa has become2022's top housing market in the nation. However, this means that the competition will be tougher and property prices will be higher as well.


For most people, buying a house is a top goal. But with the changes in the economy, achieving homeownership has become a bit of a challenge. Thankfully, there are Tampafirst-time home buyer programs available.


In this article, we're going to discuss mortgage programs for first-time buyers in Tampa and where to get help with the application.


City of Tampa Mortgage Assistance Program


The City of Tampa offers a down payment assistance loan to those who are purchasing a home within the city limits of Tampa. This program provides a maximum award of $14,999 to help eligible home buyers get into homeownership. Because of its 0% interest rate and 0% monthly payment, this home loan assistance program is also known as "second silent".


Take note that not all borrowers will receive the maximum award. The amount you'll get will depend on what you need.


Here are the main features of the City of Tampa mortgage assistance program:

  • Maximum award of $14,999. This involves the down payment assistance of up to 20% of the buying price or $10,000 whichever is less. Additionally, assistance is available to cover up to 50% of the closing costs or $4,999, whichever is less.
  • The potential buyer must begin the home buying process with one of the four approved Housing Counseling agencies and must not be under contract before receiving a reservation number. The counseling agency will provide homebuyer education classes, complete applications with clients, and collect necessary documentation.
  • Fully forgivable after 5 years, assuming the property is still owner-occupied.
  • The income required is based on the household income and not just the loan applicant.
  • The household income should be at or below 140% of the Area Median Income (AMI).
  • Can be used on fixed and fully amortized VA, Conventional, and FHA mortgages.
  • Can be used on a maximum home cost price of $226, 926.
  • Qualifying factors include a mid-credit score of 600 and a DTI ratio of 33/41%.
  • A minimum of $2,000 investment from the borrower with at least $1,000 from the borrower’s own verifiable funds are required. The additional $1,000 may be used for POCs (appraisal, inspections, etc.)
  • A full independent home inspection by the home buyer and an HQS inspection by the city are required before closing.


Dare to Own the Dream (DARE)


The Dare to Own the Dream or DARE program is another down payment assistance loan provided by the City of Tampa for homebuyers within the city limits of Tampa. Just like the mortgage assistance program mentioned above, DARE is also a "silent second" with a 0% rate and 0% monthly payment. The primary difference between these two programs is that DARE provides a maximum award of $40,000 and, thus, requires a bit higher qualifications.


Here are the highlights of Tampa's Dare to Own the Dream program:

  • Maximum award of $40,000 depending on the needs of the borrower.
    • 0-50% AMI                 $40,000.00
    • 50.01%-80% AMI       $30,000.00
    • 80.01%-120% AMI     $20,000.00
    • 120.01%-140% AMI   $15,000.00
  • The potential buyer must use the services of a Loan Officer and Real Estate Agent (if applicable), who is reflected on the City’s current Approved Lender List and current Approved Realtor List.
  • Fully forgivable after 10 years, assuming the property is still owner-occupied.
  • Can be used on fixed and fully amortized FHA, VA, and Conventional loans.
  • Can be used on a maximum home purchase price of $300,000.
  • Qualifying factors include a mid-credit score of 600 and a DTI ratio of 36/43%.

East Tampa CRA Down Payment Assistance


The East Tampa Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) offers down payment assistance loans to East Tampa renters who want to buy a home within East Tampa. This "silent second" mortgage program provides a maximum award of $50,000 to eligible first-time home buyers.


Here are some of the highlights included in the East Tampa CRA Down Payment Assistance Program:

  • Maximum award of $50,000 toward the acquisition of the home:
    • 0-30% AMI $50,000.00
    • 31%-50% AMI $40,000.00
    • 51%-80% AMI $30,000.00
    • 81%-140% AMI $15,000.00
  • Fully forgivable after 7 years, assuming the buyer still owns the property and has completed the post-purchase education.
  • Can be applied on 203K, FHA loan, VA, and Conventional Affordable Housing Products.
  • Borrower has a mid-credit score of 600 and a DTI ratio of 33/41%.
  • This assistance program can be applied to a property with a maximum purchase price of $240,000.


The Home Sweet Home Hillsborough Program


The Home Sweet Home program offers first-time home buyers a second mortgage of up to $10,000. This deferred loan can be used to cover down payment and/or closing costs when you purchase a house within Hillsborough County.


Although the Home Sweet Home program has 0% interest and no monthly payments, it is never forgiven. This means that you'll have to repay the loan if the property is refinanced, sold, foreclosed, or no longer the borrower's primary residence.


Here are some of the requirements to qualify for the Home Sweet Home program:

  • All applicants including their spouses, whether an occupant or not, must be first-time home buyers and permanent residents of the U.S.
  • They must have completed a program-approved pre-purchase homebuyer education course.
  • FICO score of 660 or higher.
  • The property's maximum buying price should be within $283,348 and should serve as the borrower's primary residence.
  • The buyer should occupy the property within 60 days of closing.
  • The income limit required is based on the household income. If it's a 1-2 person household, income should not be more than $69,020. And if the household has 3 or more people, the income limit is $80,845.

The Mortgage Credit Certificate


If you're getting a loan through the Housing Finance Authority of Hillsborough County, you might be qualified for a mortgage credit certificate (MCC).


The MCC is not down payment assistance. Instead, it helps first-time home buyers qualify for a home loan by reducing their federal tax liability. With Hillsborough County's MCC program, the borrower can take up to 50% of their annual mortgage interest payments as a tax credit (maximum $2,000) on their federal income tax return. The borrower can also continue to receive the tax credit as long as they occupy the property as their primary residence.


The MCC program can be combined with the other closing costs and down payment assistance programs mentioned above. However, it has strict eligibility requirements which involve limits on the income, mortgage size, and the price of your desired property.

Looking to Buy a Home in Tampa?

If you're a first-time home buyer who's planning to purchase a home in Tampa, and you're also considering taking advantage of the programs above, then Ebenezer Mortgage Solutions is here to help you.


Ebenezer Mortgage Solutions is a mortgage broker in Tampa with the knowledge and experience to help you achieve your dream of homeownership by guiding you through the home buying process. We work with a wide network of mortgage lenders, giving you access to the best deals and offers in town. And with our expertise, we can assist you in taking advantage of the different first-time buyer programs that are available for you.


Connect with us by calling (813) 284 - 4027 today. 

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