The Orange County downpayment Assistance Program is managed by the Housing and Community Development Division in Orlando. The Orange County government oversees this Division. The program is part of Florida State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP).
The program offers first-time homebuyers with a loan to pay for all -or cover a portion- of a home's downpayment or closing costs. The amount of assistance ranges from $7,500 to $10,000, depending on the household's income. Loan repayment is deferred for 15 years. The loan has a 0% interest rate.
Homebuyer Qualification Requirements
To qualify, a homebuyer must be a first-time homebuyer and have been a resident of the Orange County area for at least a year. The Program defines a first-time homebuyer as someone who has not owned a home in the past three years. However, an exception exists for displaced homemakers. All homebuyers must be able to legally reside permanently in the U.S.
Additionally, the homebuyer must meet income limits. Income limits fall into three categories:
- Very low (50% of median)
- Low (80% of median)
- Moderate (120% of median)
Limits are dependent upon the size of the household. For example, for a household of four, the 2013 income limits identify very low as a maximum income of $29,250, low as $46,800, and moderate as $70,200.
It is the homebuyer's responsibility to secure a mortgage for the property and provide the greater of either $1,000 or 1.75% of the sales price of the home toward a down payment.
Homebuyers must also complete both pre- and post-purchase education programs, and have acceptable credit. Homebuyer education programs are hosted by one of three independent agencies:
- Clear Point Financial Solutions: This group's pre-purchase seminars last eight hours, consisting of six hours of education and two hours of one-on-one counseling. The program culminates in an exam.
- Housing and Neighborhood Development Services (H.A.N.D.S.): This agency offers a Homebuyer Education Seminar that lasts eight hours and is held on a single day. The seminar costs $60 per person, but one spouse may pay $20 if attending with the other spouse.
- Central Florida Urban League: This association's program teaches potential homebuyers how to purchase and maintain a home. The seminar is free and explains all the steps of purchasing a home to attendees.
Property Qualification Requirements
The homebuyer must be purchasing a home located in Orange County, but outside the city of Orlando. The City of Orlando operates an independent program. According to the Florida Association of Counties, cities located within Orange County include:
- Belle Island
- Bay Lake
- Lake Buena Vista
- Winter Park
- Winter Garden
The home may be new or existing, a single family home, condominium, townhome or modular home. Mobile homes are not eligible. The maximum sale price for the home may not exceed $170,000.
The Process and Rules
The first step to participating in the program is attending one of the aforementioned education seminars.
Attend an education seminar.
- Find a qualifying home.
- Obtain a mortgage agreement.
- Ensure that qualification standards are met.
- Homebuyer asks their lender to forward the loan package to the Housing and Community Development Division.
Additionally, although there is a 15-year deferment period attached to every loan. Any loan awarded must be repaid if the home is sold without pre-approval by the Division or becomes unoccupied during a lien period. This rule lasts for the entire 15 years of the loan. There is no loan forgiveness option.
Applying for Assistance
The Housing and Community Development Division accepts applicants for the Program on a first-come, first-served basis. Further information about applying can be obtained by contacting the Division office.