First responder home loans in Florida (2018)

First responder home loans in Florida 2018
Are you looking for the best first responder home loans in Florida? Are you a paramedic, police officer, EMT, firefighter, or certified first responder who finds yourself asking how to buy a house in Florida with no money down?

We can get you the help you need today with this comprehensive guide to first responder home loans in Florida.

Even though Florida does not offer home loan programs that are specifically designed to help first responders like other states do, there are still lots of ways to find Florida home loans for first responders with bad credit, no income, or who can’t afford a down payment.

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Best first responder home loans in Florida

There are lots of ways for first responders to find home loans in Florida.

The most obvious option, of course, is simply to seek out a conventional mortgage. However, many of our readers find themselves unable to afford this type of home loan.

Conventional loans usually require a down payment of 20 percent of the home’s total value up front, which is difficult to afford if you haven’t been saving up for it.

Home buyers must also pay for Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for much of the duration of the payback period.

Finally, conventional first responder home loans require high credit scores, often around 650 to 700. If you’re looking for Florida home loans for first responders with bad credit, you might need to consider another option like the government programs we describe below.

VA loans for FL first responders

Florida home loans for first responders
If you’re wondering how to buy a house in Florida with no money down, your best bet is a VA home loan. Sadly, these loans are only available to service members and veterans of the armed forces, so while they may be available to some first responders in Florida not all of our readers will be apply to apply.

However, if you can apply for a VA home loan in Florida, you absolutely should. These loans have no minimum credit requirements, no down payment, and no private mortgage insurance.

They are affordable for first responders with bad credit and first responders who have low income.

And you don’t have to save up for months or take years rebuilding your credit to find a home!

Note that lenders will often set their own requirements for these and other types of first responder home loans in Florida. So, for example, although the government sets no minimum credit requirements on these loans, many Florida money lenders will expect you to have a credit score of 500 or higher.

If your score is lower than this, you may be able to make up for it by providing “alternative credit,” which usually consists of some kind of proof that you have a longstanding history of timely payments on your utility bills, phone bills, etc.

FHA loans for FL first responders

home loans for first responders in florida
FHA loans are similar to VA loans. Both are insured by a branch of the federal government, and as a result, lenders feel that both have fewer risks and are more likely to accept applications for these loans than they are to accept applications for conventional mortgages.

However, VA loans are insured by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, while FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration. Because these loans are in no way tied to the armed forces, anyone can apply for them.

And these loans are specifically useful if you are a first time home buyer looking for a Florida first responder home loan.

FHA loans still have down payments, but very small ones – only 3.5 percent in most cases so long as the applicant has a credit score of 580 or higher. FHA loans also have no minimum credit requirement, making them very good Florida home loans for first responders with bad credit.

FHA loans have more lenient requirements in other areas too, which you can read all about by clicking here.

There is one small downside to FHA loans, which is that they require you to pay for Private Mortgage Insurance for the entire duration of the mortgage. However, most people would rather pay a little extra every month than pay an extra 16.5 percent up front!

USDA loans for FL first responders

Florida first responder home loans

USDA loans are paid out (not insured) by the US Department of Agriculture to encourage home buyers to move to rural areas in the state of Florida.

These home loans have lower credit and income requirements than conventional loans (though somewhat higher than FHA and VA loans) and can be manually underwritten to have a lower down payment.

If you’re a first responder living in a rural area, these can be very useful first responder home loans in Florida. Even if you live near a city, check it out! You might be surprised by what the USDA is willing to consider “rural.”

Florida home loans for first responders with bad credit

Your credit score is usually the first thing that a Florida mortgage broker looks at when they’re deciding whether to approve or reject your loan application.

As a result, being a first responder with bad credit can make finding a good home loan feel impossible. But there are lots of options for finding Florida home loans for first responders with bad credit.

The FHA and VA loans we mentioned above are two great bad credit choices. Because these loans are insured by the federal government, lenders absorb less of the risk if you default on the mortgage.

And as a result, they will often approve applicants who would be rejected outright if they applied for a conventional home loan in Florida.

But what if you still want a conventional home loan even if you’re a first responder with bad credit? Here are some options available in Florida.

Conventional Home Loan Help For Bad Credit

first responder home loans in Florida
The easiest way to get accepted for a mortgage when you have bad credit is to get a close family member or friend to co-sign the loan with you. The bank will take the co-signer’s credit score into consideration instead of or in addition to your own.

This option is ideal because it means that not only are you more likely to get accepted for a loan, you’re also more likely to get good terms.

However, co-signing can be a big risk for the co-signer because they are tying their credit score to your property and your ability to make payments.

If you want to make it on your own, it’s possible that you might get accepted for a conventional mortgage. However, if a loan has credit requirements, it usually comes with a higher down payment.

That’s a big reason we recommend the FHA and VA loans so highly – they have low credit requirements AND low to no down payment, making them some of the most affordable loans out there.

But if you really don’t want to apply for one of the government programs, you can look for down payment assistance instead to help you pay off the high initial cost of a conventional mortgage. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation, or FHFC, is a really good resource that can help you pay off your down payment and offer advice for every step of your home ownership journey as a Florida first responder.


We hope that by reading this article you have learned more about how to buy a house in Florida with no money down if you are a certified first responder. Home buyers can be discouraged by the process of looking for first responder home loans in Florida because the state does not offer a specific “heroes” program for these individuals.

But by following the recommendations above, you’re sure to find a loan that works for you so that you can start living in the home of your dreams.

Leslie Rowberry

Leslie Rowberry is a Mortgage Loan Assistant and Real Estate Agent with over 14 years of education and 12 years of experience in various sectors of the industry. She is an expert in helping people buy, sell, or rent property, as well as having an in-depth understanding of credit, the different loan products offered in the United States of America, and all other aspects of the home buying process.

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