Buying a home in UtahHouse hunting can look completely different from one corner of Utah to another. Maybe you’re looking for a cozy ski cabin — or maybe a sprawling ranch. You can find these, and most anything in between, in the Beehive State. But when it comes to the actual home buying process, you’ll encounter some laws that apply no matter where you buy.
Seller disclosures in UtahIn Utah, most property sellers will fill out a disclosure form provided by their real estate agent. This will then be provided to you, the potential buyer. Utah law explicitly requires only one disclosure: A seller must tell any prospective buyer if there has been "use, storage, or manufacture of methamphetamines" within the property (Utah Code. Annot. § 57-27-201). In spite of such minimal requirements, sellers in Utah are generally prepared to provide a lot more information to buyers. But it’s up to buyers to make sure they see a disclosure form. If you haven’t seen a disclosure form for the property, insist on seeing one before negotiating further.
Inspections are essentialOf course, no seller can be expected to disclose problems they don’t know about. So don’t rely wholly on the disclosure form. Most buyers in Utah will want to order an independent home inspection as well, even when provided with a seemingly comprehensive and candid disclosure form. An inspection may reveal problems that convince you to buy a different home. Or, if you still want to move forward, issues listed on the home inspection report could be grounds to negotiate the purchase price or get the seller to make repairs before you move in.
Refinancing a home in UtahThe Utah Department of Financial Institutions has some useful tips for mortgage borrowers, many of which apply to existing homeowners who want to refinance. In particular, it urges Utah borrowers to:
- Shop around for the best refinance rates . You could save thousands
- Steer clear of dubious lenders. Do an online search, including the Better Business Bureau’s website
- Beware of “no-cost” offers: This typically means you’ll pay closing costs over the life of your mortgage (with interest) or pay a higher interest rate in exchange for an upfront fee reduction
- Refinance only when you’ll get a real benefit. Good reasons to refinance can include getting a lower interest rate and monthly mortgage payment; replacing an adjustable-rate mortgage with a fixed-rate loan; eliminating an FHA loan’s mortgage insurance premiums; or getting cash out for home improvements
- Read all your documentation carefully. Some lenders use “gotcha” clauses
- Make sure you get a written “Loan Estimate” (your lender should send you one by law) and that your closing documents match up with its promises. Your lender needs a genuinely good reason to change the loan terms or fees your original estimate
First-time home buyers in UtahFirst-time home buyers in Utah may be able to get assistance from the Utah Housing Corporation. The UHC offers four separate down payment assistance programs, helping to cover your out-of-pocket loan costs up to 4-6% of the mortgage loan amount (depending on which loan program you qualify for).
- FirstHome Loan & Home Again Loan: Covers down payment and closing costs up to 6% of the loan amount. Requires a 660 credit score and FHA loan or VA mortgage
- Score Loan: Covers down payment and closing costs up to 4% of the loan amount. Requires a 620 credit score and FHA loan or VA mortgage
- NoMI Loan: Covers down payment and closing costs up to 5% of the loan amount. Requires a 700 credit score and a conventional mortgage
Mortgage calculator: UtahCalculate your mortgage payment for a home in Utah. Start by finding your current mortgage rate using the filters above. Then enter your rate, home price, down payment, and loan term into the mortgage calculator below to estimate your monthly payment.
How to find the best mortgage rates in UtahTo get the best mortgage rates in Utah — as in any state — you’ll need to compare rate quotes from a few different lenders. We recommend checking rates from at least 3-4 companies to find your best deal. Check out these comparison reviews to see how the biggest nationwide lenders stack up:
- The Best Mortgage Companies for 2022
- The Best Refinance Companies for 2022
- Individual Mortgage Lender Reviews
How your mortgage interest rate is determinedWhether you’re shopping for a ski lodge in Park City, a condo in St. George, or a cabin near one of Utah’s five national parks, comparing mortgage lenders can help home shoppers find lower rates. But home loan shoppers should also understand how their own financials affect their rate. National average interest rates — which drive rate quotes and news analyses — are just that: national averages. They encompass a broad range of borrowers, some of whom get higher-rate loans. To get a shot at the best Utah mortgage rates, you may need a better credit score or a bigger down payment. Even spending a couple months working on your credit could save you money by getting a lower fixed-rate mortgage. Here are a few strategies that can help your credit report and score:
- Make on-time payments. Your FICO credit score relies heavily on your payment history. Making on-time payments and avoiding missed payments will help your score
- Leave paid-off accounts open. FICO also emphasizes your credit utilization ratio. You could lower your ratio by paying down credit card balances and keeping old accounts open even after you’ve paid them off
- Avoid unnecessary borrowing. Excessive credit inquiries (which happen when you apply for a credit card or a loan) can knock a few points off your FICO score
Interest rates vary by loan type, tooMany borrowers assume a conventional loan will be their path to homeownership. But other loan types could help you find a lower rate, especially if you have credit or down payment challenges.
- FHA Loans: Federal government insurance helps lenders extend competitive mortgage rates even to borrowers with FICO scores of 580. A few FHA-authorized lenders may even write mortgages for borrowers with scores as low as 500
- USDA Loans: USDA loans help lower-income borrowers by eliminating the down payment requirement for a home loan. You have to meet income requirements and live an area USDA considers “rural in character” (this includes many suburbs)
- VA Loans: Veterans, active-duty service members, and eligible spouses can borrow with no down payment and no ongoing mortgage insurance requirements. VA loans typically offer the lowest rates, too