Jacksonville Mortgage Rates

Living in Jacksonville

Located in the northeast corner of Florida, Jacksonville — or Jax as locals call it — offers a blend of history, art and culture, along with a mild climate, miles of beaches and a vibrant nightlife. With a median age of 36, it may also be one of the youngest cities in Florida.

The housing market in northeast Florida is active. According to the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors, home prices were 2.2% higher in March than they were a year earlier, and the median home price is now $229,900.

While home prices and sales are both up, inventory is still relatively low in Jacksonville. Currently, the area has only a 3.6-month supply of homes available for sale (five to six months of inventory is generally considered to be ideal). Sellers, meanwhile, are benefitting from the low inventory levels. So far this year, homes have sold for about 95.1% of their list prices, down only slightly from 95.5% in 2018. Lately, 15.4% of home sales have gone over their original list prices.

In Jacksonville, buyers generally need to act fast: Homes in northeast Florida are currently selling within 71 days on average.

The rules and costs of buying a home in Jacksonville

The homebuying process differs from state to state, and even from county to county. Here’s what you need to know about buying a home in Florida and, specifically, Duval County, where Jacksonville is located:

Home seller and buyer laws

In Florida, sellers are required by law to reveal all known defects and issues that might affect the value of the property. Sellers complete a property disclosure form that includes information on the following:

  • Any legal claims, complaints or court proceedings that apply to the home in question
  • Any restrictions issued by either a condo or homeowners association
  • Any environmental hazards, such as lead-based paint, asbestos, radon gas or mold
  • Any issues with major structural and utility components of the home, such as appliances, the HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems, or the roof
  • Any water damage
  • Any history of sinkholes
  • Any infestations or damage caused by wood-destroying pests
  • Flood zone boundaries that show the property is in a special flood hazard area
  • Any disputes concerning the home’s boundaries or encroachments

Unlike some states, Florida is a judicial foreclosure state, which means that if you encounter difficulty paying your mortgage, your lender will be required to go to court before foreclosing on your home.

For homeowners going through divorce, Florida law calls for equitable distribution of all marital assets and liabilities, based on the contributions of each spouse to the marriage, the length of the union and other factors. This is different from community property states, where assets and liabilities are divided up equally during a divorce, 50/50.

While some states require you use an attorney to close on the purchase of your home, Florida does not. In a situation like this, buyers often go with an independent escrow agent instead, such as a title, trust or escrow company.

Taxes

Duval County has one of the highest median property taxes in the country, ranking 774th out of 3,143 counties nationwide, according to Tax-Rates.org. The median tax in the county is $1,500, based on a $175,900 home. Your lender will let you know the exact amount you’ll need to pay in property taxes as you near closing.

The Florida Department of Revenue cautions buyers not to assume their tax bill will be identical to that of the previous owners. Florida law requires a property appraiser to remove exemptions on a property and reassess its value after it changes hands, and the new value typically takes effect on January 1 after you buy your new home.

Jacksonville buyers can lower their tax bills by using one or more of the exemptions Florida offers to homeowners. For example, Florida’s homestead exemption can reduce a property’s assessed value by up to $50,000. The state offers additional exemptions for senior citizens, deployed service members, disabled homeowners and other eligible people. To learn more about these exemptions, go here.

Conforming loan limits

The 2019 conforming loan limit for a single-family home in Jacksonville is $484,350, the standard loan limit in place for most of the U.S.

Conforming loan limits represent the maximum loan amounts two government-sponsored entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are willing to insure for the conventional loans most consumers take on. As such, they tend to offer the best interest rates to consumers who have good credit. Mortgages that are above conforming loan limits are called jumbo loans, and they typically have stricter lending requirements and often higher interest rates.

Programs for homebuyers in Jacksonville

Homebuyers can make their purchase more affordable by turning to either the Jacksonville Housing Finance Authority (JHFA) or the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC). The FHFC offers a host of programs for Florida residents, including the ones below. To learn more about them, start with this link, and then click on both the name of your county and the number of people in your household.

Florida First Loan Program

  • Offers 30-year, fixed-rate FHA, VA or USDA loans
  • Can be combined with down payment or closing cost assistance
  • Subject to income limits based on family size and purchase price limits for Duval County
  • Buyers must complete a homebuyer education class

Who qualifies:

  • First-time buyers, buyers purchasing in a federally designated targeted area, qualified veterans
  • Buyers with a minimum FICO score of 640

 

Florida Military Heroes Loan Program

  • Offers 30-year, fixed-rate FHA, VA or USDA loans
  • Can be combined with down payment or closing cost assistance
  • Subject to income limits based on family size and purchase price limits for Duval County
  • Buyers must complete a homebuyer education class

Who qualifies:

  • Veterans and active-duty military personnel
  • Buyers with a minimum FICO score of 640

 

Florida HFA Preferred / HFA Preferred PLUS Conventional Loan Programs

  • Offers 30-year, fixed-rate conventional loans
  • Can be combined with down payment or closing cost assistance
  • Reduced mortgage insurance costs
  • Buyers must complete a homebuyer education class

Who qualifies:

  • First-time buyers, buyers purchasing in a federally designated targeted area, qualified veterans
  • Buyers with a minimum FICO score of 640

 

Hardest-Hit Fund Down Payment Assistance Program

  • Up to $15,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance
  • Offers a 0% interest, five-year forgivable loan
  • Buyers must complete a homebuyer education class

Who qualifies:

  • First-time homebuyers in Clay, Duval, Hillsborough, Osceola or Pasco counties
  • Buyers with a minimum FICO score of 640

Learn more

Mortgage Credit Certificate Program

  • Provides an annual federal tax credit up to $2,000

Who qualifies:

  • First-time homebuyers
  • Homes must be primary residences

Learn more

Rate shopping tips

When it comes to mortgages, what seems like a small difference in an interest rate can translate into thousands of dollars in additional costs over the life of a loan. Follow these tips to help you secure the best rate:

Contact at least three lenders on the same day

Comparison shopping is one of the most effective tools for getting the best rate. To find a competitive rate, consider not only national banks, but also regional or community banks, credit unions and online lenders. Rates fluctuate daily, so to make an apples-to-apples comparison, contact lenders on the same day.

Give each lender the same information

A lender’s quote will only be as accurate as the information you provide about your financial situation. Moreover, initial rates are subject to increases if your financial circumstances change.

To lessen the chance of your quote changing over time, be sure to provide complete details about your finances and give each lender the same information.

Add up all lender fees to determine a loan’s total cost

When comparing lenders, be sure to look at the annual percentage rate (APR) for each loan, which will give you a rate that includes fees, such as closing costs, as well as the interest rate. APRs make it easier to compare loans. Lenders are required by law to break out fees when they provide you with a loan estimate.

Know when to lock in the rate

Once you decide on a lender, ask about their policy for locking in an interest rate. Also, find out what happens if you lock in the rate and interest rates decrease. Some lenders offer the option of locking in rates before you settle on a property, but there may be a cost associated with it.

The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.