Want to buy your first home in Tampa? Learn how, get help

First-time homebuyers eager to ditch their ever-increasing rent payments and support communities in need of a stable population are signed up for Tampa’s Homebuyer Education Workshop series. The series is designed to help participants gain knowledge of the system and receive down payment assistance.

The 2020 series is already underway, but for those interested in getting in on what Housing and Community Development Manager Vanessa McCleary calls “a great deal.” The next set of workshops begins Feb. 6, 2021.

“We have one started in East Tampa now and plan on adding one in West Tampa,” McCleary says. Those interested do not have to live currently in either community but have to buy in those neighborhoods to qualify for the down payment assistance offered through the city and the Community Redevelopment Area. Banks also offer assistance and those who take and complete the series could be eligible for all three.

City Housing Counselor LaTasha Hicks will teach the classes. Workshops include topics like budgeting, finding a realtor, navigating banks, and the responsibilities of homeownership. Hicks says 33 people signed up in January 2020 and 11 completed the classes. In August 2019, 15 people registered and 12 completed the series.
The rate of homeownership in four East Tampa census tracts ranges from 33% to 70%.

There are income requirements to get in on the workshops. For example, if a potential home buyer is at 80% of the city’s median income or below, they can qualify for $30,000 in assistance to use toward their down payment and closing costs. Those who fall into the category of meeting 80-140% of the median income can qualify for $15,000 through the city’s Dare to Dream program.

They can buy a home with a sale price of $240,000 or less. To qualify for CRA assistance, they must buy in the designated area.

The city offers a list of realtors who have been trained in the down payment assistance programs, but participants can also ask that their realtor be added, at which point they would be trained in the down payment program, which requires specific paperwork for the purchase to be completed properly, McCleary says.

The free programs are for first-time homebuyers only. To learn more, follow this link.
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Read more articles by Yvette C. Hammett.

Yvette C. Hammett, a native Floridian and a graduate of the University of Florida, has spent much of her career as a professional journalist covering business, the environment, and local features throughout the Tampa Bay Area. She is an avid camper and outdoors person who has also been involved in local events for foster children and the elderly.