What to know about buying a house in Utah
Purchasing your first home in Utah can be difficult. However, there is plenty of assistance available. For first-time home buyers, the Beehive State offers a wealth of advice, counseling, and educational courses.
Utah also has special mortgage programs for first-time home buyers. Perhaps most importantly, you may be eligible for a grant or loan to assist with your down payment and closing costs. Are you ready to begin the home-buying process?Verify your home buying eligibility in Utah. Start here
In this article (Skip to ...)
- Utah home buyer overview
- Home loan options
- Utah home buyer programs
- First-time buyer grants
- Buying in Utah’s cities
- Utah mortgage rates
Utah home buyer overview
The median home price in Utah was $479,368 in March 2023, according to the Utah Association of Realtors. That median declined by 7.9% year over year. Even so, saving enough for a down payment is still daunting. But Utah first-time home buyers may be in line for assistance, which can put homeownership within reach even at those higher prices.Verify your home buying eligibility in Utah. Start here
Utah home buyer stats
|Average Home Sale Price in Utah1||$479,368|
|Minimum Down Payment in Utah (3%)||$14,381|
|20% Down Payment in Utah||$95,874|
|Average Credit Score in Utah2||730|
|Maximum Utah Home Buyer Grant3||UHC second mortgage: "borrow your entire minimum required down payment plus all or a portion of your closing costs"|
Down payment amounts are based on the state's most recently available average home sale price. “Minimum” down payment assumes 3% down on a conventional mortgage with a minimum credit score of 620.
If you're eligible for a VA loan (backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs) or a USDA loan (backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture), you may not need any down payment at all.
First-time home buyer loans in Utah
If you’re a first-time buyer in Utah with a 20% down payment, you can get a conventional loan with a low interest rate and no private mortgage insurance (PMI). The same goes for buyers anywhere in the country.Find the best first-time home buyer loan for you. Start here
Of course, few first-time buyers have saved a 20% down payment. But the good news is that you don’t need to. Utah home buyers can often get into a new home with as little as 3% or even 0% down using one of these low-down-payment mortgage programs:
- Conventional 97: From Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. 3% down payment and 620 minimum credit score. You can usually stop paying mortgage insurance after a few years
- FHA loan: Backed by the Federal Housing Administration. 3.5% down and a 580 minimum credit score. But you’re on the hook for mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) until you refinance to a different type of mortgage, move, or pay off your loan
- VA loan: Only for veterans and service members. Zero down payment is required. Minimum credit score varies by lender but often 620. No ongoing mortgage insurance premiums after closing. These are arguably the best mortgages available, so apply if you’re eligible
- USDA loan: For those on low-to-moderate incomes buying in designated rural areas. Zero down payment required. Credit score requirements vary by lender but often 640. Low mortgage insurance rates
- Utah Housing Corp. mortgage: You might be able to combine one of these with a second mortgage that covers all your down payment needs (3% or 3.5% of the sale price), plus some of your closing costs. More information below
Note that government loan programs (including the FHA, VA, and USDA home loans) require you to buy a primary residence, which can be a single-family home or a 2-4-unit property. That means you can’t use these loans for a vacation home or investment property.
Most programs let you use gifted money or down payment assistance to cover the down payment and closing costs. So depending on the loan type you choose, you could potentially get into a home with very little cash out of pocket.
If you’re not sure which loan program to choose for your first mortgage, your loan officer can help you find the right match based on your finances and home-buying goals.
Utah first-time home buyer programs
As a Utah home buyer, your first port of call will likely be the state’s housing authority, the Utah Housing Corporation (UHC). It has several mortgage programs that can help Utah homeowners.Verify your home buying eligibility in Utah. Start here
In order to get help from the UHC, you’ll have to qualify for a conventional, VA, or FHA mortgage. There are a few eligibility rules, including:
- Have a credit score of 620 or better
- Choose a participating lender from UHC’s approved list
- Have a monthly household income at or below $8,900 in most of the state or $12,500 in Summit county
Qualified home buyers can combine one of these loans with the UHC’s down payment assistance program to cover their upfront costs. Here’s what you can expect.
Utah Housing FirstHome and Home Again Loans
First-time home buyers, qualifying single parents, and eligible military veterans are all prime candidates for the Utah Housing FirstHome Loan. Typically, the mortgage interest rates offered through this program are lower than those the agency offers for other loan products.
Families with lower incomes may apply for Utah Housing’s Home Again Loan if they are not eligible for a FirstHome loan. Anyone, whether a repeat homeowner or a first-time buyer, can apply for this loan. Borrowers who qualify for the Home Again Loan can take advantage of low fixed interest rates and get help with the down payment.
If you want to buy a house in Utah but need some help with the costs, either loan is a good option to consider. Home-buyer education courses are not required for either the FirstHome Loan or the Home Again Loan.
Utah Housing Score Loan
The Score Loan from Utah Housing allows first-time and repeat buyers with poor credit and a modest or low income to become homeowners. If you’re a repeat buyer, then you must not own any other property at the time of closing to be eligible. The Score Loan program offers flexible credit requirements and down payment assistance to qualified borrowers. It is a great option for those who are struggling to meet the strict lending standards of traditional mortgage lenders.
Utah first-time home buyer grants
The Utah Housing Corporation offers three separate down payment assistance loans. These are available to home buyers who are also getting their primary mortgage through UHC. With these loan programs, UHC says, “You may be able to borrow your entire minimum required down payment plus all or a portion of your closing costs.”Let us help find the right mortgage for you. Start here
All three down payment assistance programs are offered as a 30-year second mortgage, which means they’ll require a second loan payment on top of your main mortgage payment. The interest rate will be 2% above your first mortgage rate.
The FirstHome down payment assistance program is for first-time home buyers only, while the HomeAgain and Score programs can be used by repeat home buyers as well.
UHC FirstHome Loan DPA
The UHC FirstHome Loan DPA is designed to help first-time home buyers with low to moderate income levels. Eligible borrowers can receive up to 6% of their loan amount towards a down payment and/or closing costs, provided they have a minimum credit score of 660.
UHC HomeAgain Loan DPA
The UHC HomeAgain Loan DPA provides financial assistance to Utah first-time home buyers with their down payment and closing costs, up to 6% of their loan amount. Borrowers must have a credit score of 660 to qualify.
UHC Score Loan DPA
The UHC Score Loan DPA requires a minimum credit score of 660 to qualify. This program offers down payment assistance to eligible borrowers who meet the credit score requirement. You’ll also get up to 4% of your loan amount applied toward a down payment and/or closing costs.
Utah Housing First-Time Homebuyer Veterans Grant
Additionally, Utah Housing offers a $2,500 grant to first-time home buyers who are active-duty military or veterans. In contrast to other programs, a “first-time home buyer” is someone who has not purchased a primary residence in Utah in the previous seven years. In order to qualify as a veteran, you must have left the military within the last five years. This grant is forgiven and not repaid. Even better, the funds do not have to be used for a down payment or closing costs.
Other Utah first-time home buyer assistance programs
You should also explore down payment assistance programs in your local city or county. One of these may offer a better deal.
For example, the Chenoa Fund is an affordable housing program from the CBC Mortgage Agency, owned by the Cedar Band of Paiutes in Utah. It offers down payment assistance loans in the form of a second mortgage over a 10- or 30-year term with as little as no interest.
Your loan officer or real estate agent can help you find the best mortgage and assistance program for your situation. We’ve also provided helpful links below.
Buying a home in Utah’s major cities
While home price inflation in Salt Lake City is slightly slower than the statewide average, inflation in the suburbs of West Valley and West Jordan is among the highest in the Beehive State.Let us help find the right mortgage for you
Buying in one of Utah’s biggest cities can present a challenge because of higher home prices. But there are additional assistance programs available in these locations. Here’s what to expect.
Salt Lake City first-time home buyers
The median home listing price in Salt Lake City was $599,000 in April 2023, which barely inched down from $599,945 year-over-year, according to Realtor.com.
At those home prices, a down payment in Salt Lake City, UT, might cost:
- $17,970: Minimum down payment of 3%
- $119,800: Maximum down payment of 20%
The Community Development Corporation of Utah (CDCU) offers assistance to buyers with low-to-moderate income in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, and Taylorsville.
Assistance comes in the form of a deferred loan with no monthly payments and no interest. The CDCU website explains that this loan is forgivable after a period of time but does not specify the loan term.
Qualifying borrowers must:
- Be a first-time home buyer (or have not owned a home in the past three years)
- Not exceed income limits, which are set at 80% of the area median income (AMI)
- Purchase a primary residence
- Complete a home buyer education course
For more information, you can call (801) 994-7222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
West Valley City first-time home buyers
The median home listing price in West Valley City was $449,900 in April 2023. Unlike property in neighboring Salt Lake City, these prices fell 4.3% year-over-year from $470,000, according to Realtor.com.
At those home purchase prices, making a down payment in West Valley City, UT, might cost:
- $13,497 Minimum down payment of 3%
- $89,980: Maximum down payment of 20%
As for down payment assistance, the West Valley City Housing Authority offers forgivable loans of up to $14,999 that don’t have to be repaid.
However, you need to have a low or moderate income (no more than 80% of the area median income) to get this help. You’ll also need a credit score of 550 or better. And you must contribute at least $4,000 of your own money to the transaction, though half of that can be gifted by someone who loves you.
If you can meet all those conditions, you may qualify for a home purchase price of up to $387,000. It’s worth noting that you must retain ownership and remain in residence for five years. Only after that time is the loan forgiven in full. And if you move, sell, or refinance before then, you’ll have to repay the entire sum you borrowed.Let us help find the right mortgage for your first home in West Valley City. Start here
West Jordan first-time home buyers
The median home listing price in West Jordan was $550,000 in April 2023. That was up 1.1% year-over-year, according to Realtor.com.
At those home purchase prices, making a down payment in West Jordan, UT, might cost:
- $16,500: Minimum down payment of 3%
- $110,000: Maximum down payment of 20%
The City of West Jordan’s down payment assistance program “provides loans for half the required down payment and one-time closing costs for a combined total of $7,500.” Homebuyers are required to meet income requirements and to live in the home for a period of five years.
After the initial 5-year period, the loan is forgiven and no repayment is due. So that’s similar to West Valley’s offering, though the loan amount available is roughly half as large.
Where to find home buying help in Utah
All the organizations we’ve listed above should provide free advice to any first-time home buyer in the state of Utah or the area they serve.Verify your home buying eligibility in Utah. Start here
In addition to our selection, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides a list of city- and county-specific programs across Utah. These are as follows.
First-time home buyer programs in Utah
- Utah Housing Corporation (UHC): First-time homebuyer assistance programs for Utahans. Review UHC’s purchase price limits and approved lender list. Call (801) 902-8200 for more information
- Community Development Corporation of Utah (CDCU): Homebuyer assistance includes a down payment program. Call (801) 994-7222 for additional information
- West Valley City Housing Authority: Forgivable down payment loans; download the application and information booklet for all the terms and conditions
- City of West Jordan: Down payment assistance program. Download the program information and requirements flier for more information and conditions, including caps on income
- AAA Fair Credit Foundation: Utah Individual Development Account Network. Call (877) 787-0727 for more details
- Federal Home Loan Bank: Home$tart and other programs offering help for homebuyers
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Housing: Housing programs for people living in rural communities
You can find homeowner resources at the city and county level on HUD’s webpage for Utah first-time home buyers, including:
What are today’s mortgage rates in Utah?
You can check today’s average mortgage rates in Utah here. Or, you can use the link below to get a custom rate quote for your new loan.
Remember, interest rates vary by borrower. Your own mortgage interest rate depends on factors like your credit score, loan program, down payment, and more. Compare mortgage loan quotes from at least three different lenders to make sure you’re getting the lowest rate and upfront fees possible.
And don’t forget to ask your lender about down payment and closing cost assistance. These programs could seriously lower the barrier to buying your first house.Time to make a move? Let us find the right mortgage for you
1Source: Utah Association of REALTORS Local Market Update
2Source: Experian.com study of 2022 and 2021 data
3Based on a review of the state's available DPA grants at the time this was written