Utah is home to some of the most gorgeous natural beauty in the country and a popular destination for skiers and film enthusiasts. It is also becoming a destination for many new homeowners. If you're among the multitudes migrating to Utah, and you're ready to buy a home, this step-by-step guide to getting a mortgage in Utah is your best place to start.
Check Mortgage Rates in Utah
Don't let yourself become confused by the way mortgage rates vary from state to state, by county to county, and by the type of mortgage you choose. In almost every state, Utah included, rates are at historic lows. Market conditions can change depending on inventory and number of buyers in the market, but your rates are determined most by your personal finances, down payment amount, and credit history (though don't let bad credit history count you out — you may still be able to get a mortgage). For a thorough discussion of mortgage rates, visit our mortgage rate guide.
First-Timer? Get Homebuying Help in Utah
Utah has more than a few programs for first time homebuyers, including down payment assistance that allows borrowers to obtain a second mortgage to be used with other state mortgage programs.
Salt Lake City offers a $10K Neighborhood Grant program for any first-time homebuyer who purchases a home in a targeted neighborhood. Borrower must put at least $500 down, and it must be zoned residential. Likewise, qualifying first-time buyers can obtain a similar kind of grant in Provo, but the buyer has to ante up $1000 to go towards the purchase. Both of these programs require no repayment. For an in-depth explanation of the homebuying process, visit our first-time homebuyer's guide.
Financial Assistance in Utah for First-Time Buyers
Find a Housing Counselor in Utah
What Drives Home Affordability in Utah?
Utah's housing market has recovered, for the most part, since the recession, but the inflation adjusted price of homes is still lower, at about 88 percent of the pre-recession peak. The housing market saw strong gains in 2015, driven by strong job growth, improving income and wages, solid demographic growth and great mortgage rates. This helped bring most of the 21 percent of homeowners with underwater mortgages in 2010 up out of water, down to just 4 percent in 2015, which is slowly increasing the price of homes.
Economic growth in Utah has also been steady, with job growth increasing at a pace of 3.5 percent in June 2016, and unemployment at 4 percent, making this a great time to buy. As of 2014, there were 11,500 single family homes sold in Salt Lake County, but analysts predict residential home sales will increase 7 percent in the coming year. Median home value is $229,200, up 7.2 percent since last year, and expected to rise another 4.5 percent within the next year, according to Zillow. In Salt Lake City, the average is $248,500, Zillow estimates.
How Utah Mortgage Rates and Home Prices Affect Monthly Payments
|Metro Area||Estimated Monthly Mortgage Payment*||Q1 2016 (Change from Previous Year)||2015 Median Home Price||2014||2013|
|Salt Lake City||$1,225||$261,300 (+7.40%)||$255,000||$239,100||$230,600|
Source: National Association of Realtors Q1 2016 Metropolitan Median Area Prices and Affordability report.
*Estimated Monthly Mortgage Payment is based on median home prices for the metro area in Q1 2016 and a 30-year fixed mortgage with today's rates.
Loan Limits Determine How Much You Can Borrow in Utah
Conventional loan limits are determined by the county where the home is located, and set using the highest median home price within the metropolitan area. But your specific loan limit will also be determined by your income and down payment amounts as well as rules of the county where the home is located, using the highest median home price within the metropolitan area.
FHA limits in most counties in Utah is $271,050, but higher in counties like Box Elder, Morgan, Weber and Davis at $389,850. The highest limit in the state is in Summit County at $600,300. The following table lets you search for loan limits by county in Utah.
Buying a Home in Utah: Experts Weigh In
Paul Hasnais a mortgage advisor with Security National Mortgage Company.
Diane Hartz Warsoff is chief executive officer at the Community Development Corporation of Utah.
How has the real estate climate changed in your state, since the market crisis? Is now a better to time to refinance or purchase?
Utah has seen a robust housing market since the housing crisis due to being such a highly desirable place to call home with such amazing access to outdoor activities and a low unemployment rate of 3.8 percent. We also see an influx of buyers from California who are tired of the traffic and high taxes.
It is also great time to refinance because of record low interest rates. What you have now is property appreciation and low interest rates, so I've been helping many of my past clients to refinance from FHA mortgages into conventional mortgages without mortgage insurance, a move that is saving them a significant amount money each month.
In Utah, and Salt Lake City in particular, we are experiencing an increase in the values of homes rising at a faster pace than wages. This phenomenon makes it a great time to sell, but it is becoming more difficult for first-time homebuyers, especially those with lower incomes, to find a home that they can afford to buy - even with low interest rates.
Also, with current interest rates as low as they are, it is a great time to refinance.
What resources would you recommend for a new home-buyer?
Utah has many Down Payment Assistant programs for new home-buyers. For most, you have to be a first time home-buyer. It's best to meet with a local lender to go over the options.
In Utah, CDCU provides excellent home buyer education as well as one-on-one home buyer counseling, with our HUD certified advisors. At CDCU, [we help] them with budgeting, credit issues while also helping them become educated consumers when it comes to purchasing and/or refinancing a home.
CDCU also administers the down payment assistance programs for Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County and Taylorsville. Other municipalities also offer down payment assistance; however, the home buyer will need to reach out directly to find out more about the requirements depending on where they are purchasing their home.
How can someone with little to no equity refinance?
Some people may still fit into the HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) 2.0 guidelines which launched in 2009. HARP is available to homeowners until December 2016. Also, VA loans allow 100 percent financing and FHA 96.5 percent financing.
There are some loans that allow for refinancing with little equity in the home, but the borrower may need to come up with closing costs in cash.
Don't Forget Utah Closing Costs
Utah has some of the lowest closing costs in the country, with the average loan origination fee at $909. Approximate fees for other common costs are: Third Party Fees: $788, Appraisal: $24, Attorney: $434, Survey: $725. The total average closing costs is below the national average of $1,847. Visit our guide for a full explanation of Common Closing Costs.
Average Closing Costs in Utah
Source: Bankrate's 2015 survey of closing costs.
Refinancing a Mortgage in Utah
Once a state listed in the highest percentage of underwater mortgages, Utah's housing market is now rapidly growing in value and equity. Realtors believe underwater mortgages was about 4 percent in 2015, compared to 8.5 percent nationally in the final quarter of 2015.
People have been refinancing their homes in Utah to take advantage of historically low rates. However, when it comes to refinancing, be sure to shop around and compare rates. Don't settle on the first good "deal" you receive until you confirm it's the best one out there. Also, don't forget you still incur closing costs with a refinance so remember to include those in your decision.
Yet More Utah Mortgage Resources
For further questions and answers, check out these other resources:
Offers customizable search engine for housing services and affordable residences, including those for senior citizens, low-income families, and people with disabilities.
Assistance for low-income housing, including medical assistance and food-buying programs.
Home ownership counseling and finance counseling available, along with homelessness prevention services. Serving Salt Lake City since 1970, this organization offers ways to obtain a GED or other higher education, in an effort to pursue homeownership.
Provides low-income families with opportunities to apply for grants like low-interest rehabilitation loans. Also provides housing resources for people with disabilities, and lists weatherization programs for emergency assistance.
Down payment assistance programs, according to county and income limits, listed in a very comprehensive guide. The top loan originators and real estate agents are highlighted, along with contact information, for each individual county.
Grants for each county, searchable through the website, are available. Current market listings and a credit application for mortgages are on the website.
A rich directory of homebuyer education, resources, financial assistance post-purchase, refinancing services and foreclosure prevention classes, among numerous other things in your area.
Homeownership resources for individuals with disabilities: job training, transportation services, legal advocacy, money management counseling, and more. Also provides accessibility location services for individuals with disabilities.
Offers consumer protection services and lists licensing statuses of real estate professionals. Also provides licensing services for loan officers, real estate agents, and lists rules and regulations the consumer needs to know.
Provides affordable housing counseling and various other services to help nonprofits and government agencies assemble financing for housing projects.