The housing market is cooling off a bit in the Sunshine State, where the median home sale price in April was $410,000 — slightly below the national median. It may be easier to find a home in Florida, too, as the number of active listings rose by 6.9% between spring 2021 and the same period of 2022. Whether you’re looking to buy a home or refinance an existing mortgage, you’ll need to know mortgage rates in Florida, what kind of loans are available, and whether you qualify for down payment assistance.
What Are Today’s Mortgage Rates in Florida?
For Thursday, December 08, 2022, here are the current mortgage rates in Florida. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate is 6.450%. The average 30-year fixed mortgage refinance rate is 6.450%. Today, the average 15-year fixed mortgage rate is 5.840%.
Looking at variable rate loans, the average 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) rate is 5.000%.
This information is from Bankrate’s latest survey of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders.
Current Mortgage Rates in Florida
You can lower your interest rate by purchasing mortgage points. In exchange for an upfront fee, the lender will shave down the interest rate, which may save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.
How Much of a Mortgage Do You Need in Florida
A down payment is a lump sum of cash you commit upfront toward your home purchase. The minimum amount required depends mostly on limits set by the lender and the type of loan you get. Conventional loans require at least 3% down, while FHA loans require a minimum of 3.5% or 10%, depending on your credit score. And if you qualify for a VA loan, you may not need a down payment at all.
But you can choose to put down more than the minimum, which will shrink your monthly mortgage payments and reduce the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan. The table below shows how much a down payment might cost in different metro areas in Florida.
|Metro Area||Median Home Price||3.5%||10%||20%|
|Miami – Fort Lauderdale – West Palm Beach||$530,000||$18,550||$53,000||$106,000|
|Tampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater||$379,900||$13,296.50||$37,990||$75,980|
|Orlando – Kissimmee – Sanford||$399,900||$13,996.50||$39,990||$79,980|
|North Port – Sarasota – Bradenton||$480,000||$16,800||$48,000||$96,000|
Types of Home Loans Available in Florida
But with any type of mortgage, it’s a good idea to know how much you want to put down and pay per month before talking with a lender. “Come in with a budget you’re comfortable with,” says Sam Royer, national director of Heroes First Home Loans. “Then it’s our job to look at mortgage programs and figure out which one makes sense and which one fits your financial needs.”
Here’s what to know about the major loan programs in Florida.
FHA loans are mortgages guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration. These mortgages are appealing to first-time homebuyers because they have flexible lending guidelines. To qualify, homebuyers need a credit score of 500 and a down payment of at least 10%, or a credit score of 580 with a minimum down payment of 3.5%. Borrowers also need a DTI ratio of 50% or less, and they’ll need to budget for both upfront mortgage insurance and monthly mortgage insurance.
With the third-highest veteran population in the country, at 1.54 million veterans, Florida is no stranger to VA loans. These home loans, available for current or former military members or surviving spouses, are backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and “are the best mortgages all around because they make homeownership more affordable,” Royer says. “The ability to not have a down payment and not pay monthly mortgage insurance is a big factor.”
Borrowers must meet the lender’s specific credit score and DTI limits and pay a funding fee upfront. However, borrowers with a service-related disability are exempt from paying the fee. “With the last 20 years with the United States being in a conflict, you have a situation where a lot of military members got out and have a service-connected disability,” Royer says. “So probably almost 50% of the VA loans we do don’t have a funding fee.”
Conventional loans are mortgages that aren’t backed by a government agency. These are typically cheaper compared to FHA loans, but they have stricter lending requirements. Borrowers need a credit score of at least 620, a maximum DTI ratio of 45%, and a down payment of at least 3%.
First Time Homebuyer Programs in Florida
Coming up with the cash for a down payment and closing costs often presents a hurdle for homebuyers. But many state and local governments offer first-time homebuyer programs to help with these major costs. Some programs offer money in the form of grants, which don’t have to be repaid. Others offer loans, which act as second mortgages. Homebuyers can use the money toward the down payment, closing costs, mortgage points, or to pay down the principal.
Keep in mind that local programs “typically run out of money within the first few months of the year because they have limited resources,” Royer says. But compare these against statewide programs to see what’s available.
The major statewide programs are offered through the Florida Housing Finance Corp., and some of their options include:
- Florida Housing Homebuyer Program: This program offers 30-year fixed-rate first mortgage loans to first-time homebuyers. You can find these mortgages at participating lenders throughout the state and combine the loans with down payment/closing cost assistance programs.
- Hometown Heroes: Geared toward frontline community workers, this program provides up to $25,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance. It comes in the form of a deferred second mortgage that’s eventually repayable. Applicants also receive reduced upfront fees and waived origination points or discount points.
- Salute Our Soldiers: This program offers 30-year fixed-rate mortgages to service members and veterans who meet income requirements. The loans come with lower-than-market interest rates and down payment assistance.
- The Florida Assist: Qualified applicants who use a Florida Housing first mortgage loan may receive up to $10,000 toward down payment assistance. The money comes in the form of a no-interest, non-amortizing second mortgage that’s eventually repayable.
- The Florida Homeownership Loan Program Second Mortgage: Qualified applicants who use a Florida Housing first mortgage loan may receive up to $10,000 for down payment/closing cost assistance. This is a second mortgage with a 3% interest rate, 15-year term, and full amortization schedule.
- HFA Preferred Grants: Qualified borrowers can get 3%, 4% or 5% of the home’s purchase price to use toward the down payment and closing costs. This second mortgage is forgiven after five years when used with eligible first-mortgage loans.
How to Refinance Your Mortgage in Florida
Many homeowners refinance a mortgage to lower their monthly housing payments, borrow cash, remove private mortgage insurance, or take someone off the home loan. The process for refinancing in Florida is the same as in other states. Start by contacting multiple mortgage lenders and asking for a loan estimate, which lists your interest rate and refinance closing costs. These typically equal 3% to 6% of the loan balance, so you’ll need to consider whether you’ll stay in the home long enough for any monthly savings to outweigh the upfront costs.
The lender will check your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and loan-to-value ratio (LTV), which compares your mortgage balance to your home’s market value. To make sure you’ll qualify for a refinance, it’s best to “live within your means,” Royer says. “If someone comes in with a truck with an $800 monthly payment, for example, that can throw them off of qualifying for a mortgage.”
If you qualify for the refinance loan, the lender will pay off your old mortgage and start you on a new payment schedule.