First-Time Homebuyer Programs: How to Afford Your Dream Home in Miami

Buying your first home is a goal for many people, but it can be a challenging process. In addition to finding the right home in the right neighborhood, many potential homebuyers need assistance to make their dreams into a reality.

Whether you lack the 20 percent down payment necessary or your credit is less than ideal, homeownership may still be within your reach thanks to an assortment of first-time homebuyer assistance programs in Miami. Here are some of them.

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First-Time Homebuyer Program

Individuals who qualify under specified income guidelines may take advantage of a loan program between Miami-Dade Public Housing and Community Development and local home mortgage lenders.

Under the program, the county works with low- and moderate-income individuals and lenders to obtain a below-market rate mortgage. To be eligible, you must not already own a home, have an income level that does not exceed the limit, have been employed in the same line of work for at least 24 months, have a good and established credit history and be approved for credit by a participating lender, and be either a U.S. citizen or have obtained legal permanent residency immigration status.

Homebuyers must make a minimum down payment of 3 percent, 1 percent of which comes from the borrower’s own funds. Your maximum monthly payments, including your house payment and all outstanding debts (such as car loans, credit cards, and child care expenses), cannot exceed 45 percent of your gross monthly income. The types of homes you can purchase under this program include single-family homes, condominiums, townhouses, and duplexes.

Potential homebuyers should contact Public Housing and Community Development to set up an appointment with a financial advisor. At the time of the appointment, you must have the following:

  • Fully executed sales contract with at least 60 days remaining before expiration
  • Two years of signed and dated income tax returns and W-2s with all applicable schedules
  • If applicable, award letters for all other income: Social Security pension/retirement/SSI/welfare/disability
  • If applicable, pay stubs for the last 30 days if VOE has not been obtained (Evidence of VOE request by lender)
  • Proof of legal residence: resident alien card, INS employment authorization, I-94 (Cuban citizens only)
  • Picture ID (i.e., driver’s license, employment ID, etc.) and Social Security cards of all household members
  • Most current six months of bank statements for all accounts
  • Birth certificate(s) for all household members, letter from guardianship/adoption (if applicable) and/or school records
  • Certificate of completion of homebuyers training program

Homebuyer Loan Program

Although the Homebuyer Loan Program (HLP) is not geared specifically towards first-time homebuyers, it is open to anyone seeking to purchase a primary residence.

Created in 2015, it’s intended to encourage homeownership as a foundation for financial independence for young professionals and college graduates as well as low- and moderate-income families in Miami-Dade County. Interested first-time homebuyers should contact an HLP Certified Loan Officer.

Homeownership Assistance Program (HAP) Initiative

For some, the obstacle to homeownership is not having enough money for a down payment on a home. The Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust HAP is designed to assist low- and moderate-income families in Miami-Dade County by providing down payment and closing cost assistance to purchase their first home, making it easier for these buyers to qualify for a mortgage.

This program uses documentary surtax dollars to provide funds in the form of a 0 percent-interest, non-amortized (no payment) mortgage. The HAP loan is forgiven if the borrower owns and occupies the property for 10 years without doing a cash-out refinance.

Housing Finance Authority of Miami-Dade County Homeownership Program

Under this program, qualified participants will receive a 30-year fixed-rate first mortgage from a participating lender and down payment assistance in the form of a 30-year deferred, 0 percent second-mortgage of up to $15,000. This must be used for down payment and/or closing cost assistance and must be repaid; it is not forgiven.

To be eligible, buyers and their spouses must be first-time buyers and must be able to permanently reside in the United States, and buyers must live in the property they purchase as their principal residence. Buyers must also meet the following income limit criteria: a one-person household with a limit of $78,700, or a two or more person household with a limit of $90,505. The maximum sales price limit is $317,646 and eligible properties include new or existing, one to four units, detached or attached, condos, and townhomes.

You must have a FICO mid score of 640 or higher for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conventional loans, and a score of 660 or higher for Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Veterans Administration (VA), and Rural Development (RD) loans. The maximum debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is 45 percent. You must also complete a homebuyer education course from an in-person U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved education provider or an online course from eHome America or Hometrack Online.

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