Homebuyer Assistance FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is considered a first-time homebuyer?
A first-time homebuyer is someone who has never owned a home, who has not owned a home in the past three years or who is a veteran.
Do I fill out an application with the Housing Finance Authority?
No. There is no application through the Housing Finance Authority. You complete an application with the bank or financial institution that is financing your home.
Is the down payment assistance a grant?
No. The down payment assistance is a loan and is always paid back so the Housing Finance Authority (HFA) can continue to assist first-time homebuyers. The HFA offers the loan at zero interest, and borrowers do not make a payment until they sell the property, refinance, satisfy the first mortgage or no longer occupy the property as a primary residence. When the property is not occupied as a primary residence, the first mortgage and down payment assistance must be repaid immediately.
Can I use any lender?
No. You must choose from the Housing Finance Authority’s list of approved lenders.
How do I start the process?
The first step is to take the Homebuyer Education class from a Housing and Urban Development-approved housing counseling agency.
I have my certificate from the class. What do I do next?
Contact one of the lenders from the approved-lender list. Tell them you have your certificate and are ready to be pre-approved. The lender will pre-approve you and tell you the maximum value you can finance. Then you can contact a real estate agent of your choice and go shopping. The agent and lender will work together to get the documents and funds to the closing table for you.
How long does the process take?
That is up to you. The timeline depends on how soon you take the class, when you contact a lender and how quickly you find a house.
Are there income limits?
Yes. Please see the program flyer for additional information regarding income limits.
What is the minimum credit score required?
A minimum credit score of 660 is required.
My credit score is less than 660. What can I do?
Contact one of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved housing counseling agencies. They can help you with your credit. Counseling is usually offered for free or a small fee.
What areas does the program cover?
All of Pinellas, Pasco and Polk counties
What are Target Areas?
These are areas designated by HUD to improve home ownership in. Please see the list of specific census tracts to determine the location of these areas.
What is the advantage to buying in a Target Area?
You do not have to be a first time homebuyer. The income and purchase price limits are higher.
Is there a list of real-estate agents to choose from?
No. You may use any real-estate agent you choose.