Financial assistance helps qualifying Tampa buyers land their first home

Bryana Oliver is counting down the days to a life-changing move.

"I’m about to close on my first home ever, and I’m very excited," said Oliver. 

Next week she and her four children will finally have a house to call their own, but her path to homeownership hasn’t been easy. As a medical assistant and single mom, saving for a down payment has felt impossible. 

Adding to challenge: An extremely competitive market. According to Redfin, the median home price in Tampa has shot up to $400,000, a 21-percent increase over this time last year and a $120,000 jump from the average price in May 2020. 

As Oliver watched prices climb, she felt homeownership might simply be out of reach.  

"You would see a home and think, ok I’m going to get this one. No. It’s like you want it and then someone bid higher than you," recalled Oliver.

Thankfully, she didn’t have to go it alone. Oliver was able to take advantage of two Tampa programs that help qualifying first-time home buyers like her through the process. After getting her credit in line, Oliver qualified for the city's Dare to Own the Dream program, which offers down payment assistance to income-eligible buyers. And by targeting her home search to east Tampa, Oliver was able to secure a significant amount of financial assistance to put toward buying her first home. 

"With Dare we assist with gap funding up to $40,000 for first time home buyers," explained Kayon Henderson, Tampa Community Development Manager. "If you’re in the east Tampa Community Redevelopment Area then you can get up to $90,000 of gap funding."

As her closing date approaches, Oliver said she's feeling much more optimistic about her family's future. Her new home won't be much larger than her current three-bedroom apartment, but she's finally on the path to building something much bigger for her family. 

"I want a place where my kids can feel like it's their home. Later down the years they can either sell that home, they can get money out of it, it’ll just be something for them," said Oliver. "I'm excited to start building equity."

The city of Tampa is having a homeownership event this Saturday where prospective homeowners can get advice from industry experts, take a guided tour of affordable properties within the city, and learn more about financial assistance programs.

The event is this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Tampa Convention Center. For details visit: