Down Payment Assistance in Hillsborough County


Have you wanted to buy a home, but lack a down payment? Or perhaps you haven’t even thought much about buying a home, because you thought you wouldn’t qualify. You’re not alone and, as of now, you’re not out of luck, either! The program now includes Pasco County homes as well.

Qualify as a First Time Home Buyer

A first-time home buyer is defined as someone who hasn’t owned a home in at least three years.That opens this program up to much more than just literal first time home buyers. If you’re one of many forced out of home ownership as a result of the market collapse a few years ago, this could be an excellent opportunity for you to become a home owner again.

It also doesn’t require a waiting period in order to establish residency. In other words, someone moving here from out of state need only fulfill the other requirements and make the home purchased his or her permanent residence upon closing in order to qualify.

Deferred Payment Loan (DPL)

The down payment assistance funds are paid with a deferred payment loan that carries 0% interest and requires no payments unless the home is sold or transferred early, or the loan goes into default. Otherwise, the loan is forgiven at a rate of 20% per year. If the home is sold after three years, for example, 60% of the deferred payment loan would be forgiven, and 40% would be payable upon closing. At the end of five years, the down payment loan is completely forgiven and you would not have to pay any of it back.

The cost of renting v. the cost of buying

Let’s examine rough estimates: Renting a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home in a nice suburban neighborhood costs about $1300 – $1600/month on average. Purchasing a similar house for $150,000 with this program would require less than $1000 out of pocket and cost approximately $1000/month.

Renting a 2 bedroom, 2 bath townhouse costs between $1000 – $1300 to rent. Purchasing a similar condo with this program would carry payments of less than $800/month.

Of course, owning a home comes with full responsibility for the maintenance of the home for which a renter would not be responsible, but it also comes with the growth of equity. Owning a home in this market can easily cost less than renting while also providing security and a solid investment.

Qualify for the Down Payment Assistance Program

In addition to First Time Buyer status, applicants must complete an approved 8 hour Home Buyer Education Class, earn within the income limits (between about 65,000-80,000 depending on the loan), qualify for a mortgage and hold a FICO score of at least 640.

There are funds available through both county programs and the Florida state bond program. Local programs tend to run out of funds before the end of the year and some must be repaid upon sale, but state bond program that pays $15k to eligible borrowers funds all year and do not require repayment as long as the home is held for 5 years.

Contact me today to get paired with qualified loan officers. The Florida Down Payment Assistance and The Florida Housing First Time Homebuyer Wizard will give interested parties a better idea of programs for which they may qualify, but the best way to get started is with a 20 minute pre-qualification call. 

Private Sources of Down Payment Assistance

In addition to the government sources of funds, there are also private programs that offer down payment assistance, such as the Chenoa Fund, so even if you don’t qualify for one of the other programs, there may be a private source for down payment funds as well.


The interest rates on the loans associated with the down payment assistance programs are slightly higher than those available for more traditional mortgages, but when you consider that it is 42% cheaper to own than to rent in the Greater Tampa area, there are obvious financial benefits to owning sooner rather than later.

However, if borrowers are able to purchase without using the program, they should compare the costs of the program loan with other loan options available to them. You can ask your Realtor® to help you compare quotes to understand your options.

Down Payment Programs Make Home Buying Accessible

There are many qualified buyers who’d be able to own a home if it weren’t for the out-of-pocket costs. These down payment assistance programs make home ownership accessible to them. Are you one of them?

Contact me today for details and referrals to loan officers who specialize in these programs.

***Program details were gathered from web pages linked in the article and are subject to change without notice. Last updated: 10/13/2017. Neither Tracy Wisneski nor People’s Choice Realty Services, LLC accept responsibility for details on these loans.