How Central Florida First Time Home Buyers are Saving Big Money

“Sure, I have $16,000 for a down payment on a house…NOT!” Does this sound like you? Well there is help for people like us. Outlined here are some programs for you, as a first time home buyer, to help you afford a house in areas/cities including: Orlando, Lakeland, Clermont, Winter Haven, and many others in between.


Fact – First time home buyers make up 35% of all homes purchased annually according to National Association of Realtors (NAR); this means you are not alone!


There is a state program called the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) that administers funds to local governments to support programs specific to homeownership. These county programs can assist with many items including down payments, mortgage buy downs for new homes, repairs to homes, and gap financing.


Each county in the Central Florida area has its own programs that are derived from this money and hold different requirements to receive this assistance. There are income qualifications which differ county to county so use the links provided for more in-depth breakdowns. Here are some of the required steps/items by county:


Osceola County – (Click here for Osceola County website)

  • Must attend a First-time Homebuyers Education Course and provide the certificate of completion.
  • Not have owned a home in last three years.
  • Home price cannot exceed $165,000.
  • Contribute a minimum of $1,000 towards the costs.
  • Provide a current pre-approval letter from one of Osceola County’s participating lenders that is within 60 days of receiving.
  • First come, first served.


Lake County – (Click here for Lake County website)

  • Call the Lake County Housing and Community Development office and complete a pre-screening.
  • Meet with a homebuyer counselor (free of charge), after completing a budget worksheet that is provided after the pre-screening.
  • Attend homebuyer and home maintenance classes free of charge; everyone who is on the mortgage must take these classes.
  • Home price cannot exceed $180,000.
  • Meet with an approved lender.
  • Provide legal documentation (see website).
  • Close on house within 120 days.


Orange County – (Click here for Orange County website)

  • Cannot have owned a house in the past three years.
  • Contribute $1,000 or 1.75% of sales price towards down payment and closing costs.
  • Have a loan commitment for first mortgage.
  • Minimum credit score of 640.
  • Resident in area for at least 12 months.
  • Home price cannot exceed $200,000.
  • Attend an approved Homebuyers Educational Seminar


Polk County – (Click here for Polk County and Keystone website, and here for a PDF)

  • Pay up to $2,000 in closing costs.
  • Home price cannot exceed $258,691.
  • Not a current homeowner
  • Attend Homebuyer Education courses (free of charge).
  • Obtain first mortgage financing


We hope this information has shed some light on the affordability of owning your first house, you can do it! Have more questions or ready to start the process? Give us a call/text, or email us and we would be happy to help.


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