Utah Mortgage Rates

Thanks in part to a diverse economy and strong job market, Utah’s population grew by more than 397,000 between 2010 and 2018. The state offers a mix of outdoor opportunities to climb, hike, ski and mountain bike, as well as five national parks and seven national monuments. Meanwhile, several thriving urban hubs, including Salt Lake City and Provo, have spun new energy into both the dining and arts-and-culture scenes.

While housing prices vary across Utah, median prices have risen strongly in many areas. For example, during the last quarter of 2018, the median price for a single-family home in the five-county Wasatch Front area, which includes Salt Lake City, was $334,000, up 11% from $300,000 a year before, according to the Salt Lake Board of Realtors. In late 2018, Salt Lake County had the highest median price of all five counties, $350,000, versus $325,000 in 2017.

Even though Utah’s population has been growing, housing construction hasn’t necessarily kept up. According to a 2018 affordable housing report, the number of people working for residential construction firms has not returned to pre-recession levels, and the lack of affordable housing is a growing concern.

New listings are on the rise in Utah, but lately the lack of inventory has dampened sales in some areas. For example, along the Wasatch Front, where about three-quarters of Utah residents live, sales dropped 9% late last year compared to 2017, reaching a three-year low. In Salt Lake, the average home was on the market just 40 days, versus 43 days in late 2017.

The rules and costs of buying a home in Utah

As with most states, certain laws, costs and general practices apply to buying a home in Utah.

Property disclosure

In Utah, buyers typically fill out a property disclosure form to avoid potential legal problems. The form asks sellers to address a long list of possible issues, such as asbestos, mold, defective plumbing and electrical systems, foundation concerns and pests.

Utah legally requires sellers to disclose whether a home has been used to either produce or store the stimulant drug methamphetamine.

Foreclosure laws

Utah allows both non-judicial and judicial foreclosures, although non-judicial are the most common. With a non-judicial foreclosure, a lender can move forward with foreclosure proceedings without suing the borrower first or appearing in court. The lender is legally required to give borrowers 30 days written notice before moving to foreclose, and they must also wait at least three months before giving notice of sale.

Equitable distribution state

Utah is not a common property state, where marital property is divided 50/50. Instead, it is an equitable distribution state. This means that when it comes to splitting a couple’s assets in the event of a divorce or annulment, a judge will oversee the process to ensure a fair and equitable split. By state law, any real estate purchased during a marriage is generally considered to be marital property, even if only one name is on the deed.

Escrow state

Utah is an escrow state, which means an attorney is not required to be present during a real estate closing. Instead, buyers and sellers work with an escrow agent — often a title company — to both move the transaction forward and close according to the terms of the sales contract.

Taxes

Utah doesn’t have a real estate transfer tax, at least not yet. There has been some movement to institute the tax, including state legislation that was introduced earlier this year, which included it as part of a comprehensive tax overhaul. The bill was scrapped by lawmakers, so Utah homebuyers can benefit a while longer.

In Utah, property taxes are not exorbitant. In 2017, the average property tax bill for Utah residents was $1,892, according to the National Association of Home Builders. This means Utah ranks 33rd out of all states in highest taxes paid.

Utah does offer a potentially sizable property tax exemption. For example, residential property used as a primary residence qualifies for an exemption of 45%. This means most Utah homeowners only pay property taxes on 55% of the fair market value of their home.

Conforming loan limits

Conforming loans are mortgages that adhere to federal guidelines and limits that have been set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two government-sponsored enterprises set national loan limits each year, and the limits help bring liquidity and stability to the conventional loan market. Conventional loans that conform to federal limits generally provide the best interest rates to consumers who have good credit.

Most counties in Utah have a standard conforming loan limit of $484,350 for a single-family home. However, these Utah counties have higher conforming loan limits:

  • Summit: $726,525
  • Tooele: $600,300
  • Salt Lake: $600,300

Programs for homebuyers in Utah

Utah buyers may be able to access the following programs to receive a more affordable mortgage or help paying down payment and closing costs.

Utah FirstHome

The Utah FirstHome program is available to first-time homebuyers with a minimum credit score of 660. This mortgage program can be paired with the UHC Down Payment Assistance Loan program (described below), which lets consumers borrow up to 6% of the purchase price of their home in the form of a second mortgage.

Main eligibility requirements:

  • Minimum credit score of 660
  • Must be a first-time homebuyer
  • Income limits vary by county and household size but range between $75,500 and $105,700
  • Purchase price limits vary by county but range between $271,150 and $384,300
  • Property must be owner-occupied

Learn more

 

Utah HomeAgain Loan

The Utah HomeAgain Loan is similar to the FirstHome loan, but it comes with more generous purchase price limits and higher income caps. It is not limited to first-time homebuyers, and it can be paired with the UHC Down Payment Assistance Loan.

Main eligibility requirements:

  • Must have a minimum credit score of 660
  • Income limits vary by county but range between $100,350 and $144,700
  • Purchase price limits are based on conventional and FHA loan limits, which vary by county and range from $314,827 to $726,525
  • Property must be owner-occupied

Learn more

 

Utah Score Loan

This Utah homeowner program is for consumers whose credit scores are too low to qualify for other Utah homebuyer programs. Homeowners are required to take a homeowner education course.

Basic eligibility requirements include:

  • Minimum credit score of 620
  • Income limit of $82,500 for all counties
  • Housing purchase price of $294,500 for all counties
  • Homeowner education course required
  • Buyers can borrow up to 4% of the loan amount through the down payment assistance program

Learn more

 

Utah NoMI Loan

This mortgage program is available to consumers with credit scores of 700 or higher. It has the same purchase price and income limits as the Utah HomeAgain Loan. It can also be paired with the Utah Down Payment Assistance Loan, and it lets consumers borrow up to 5% of their home purchase price for use as a down payment.

Main eligibility requirements:

  • Must have a credit score of 700 or higher
  • Income limits vary by county but range between $100,350 and $144,700
  • Purchase price limits are based on conventional and FHA loan limits, which vary by county and range from $314,827 to $726,525
  • Property must be a primary residence
  • Lender may require buyers to complete a homeowner education course

Learn more

 

Down payment assistance

The Utah Housing Corporation’s down payment assistance program lets potential homeowners borrow up to 6% of their home’s purchase price to use toward a down payment or for closing costs. The assistance is offered as a 30-year, fixed-rate second mortgage with an interest rate 2% higher than the rate secured on the first mortgage loan.

Borrowers must meet the following requirements:

  • A minimum credit score of 620 to 700, depending on the type of loan used for the purchase
  • Income limits vary by family size and county but range between $75,500 and $144,700
  • Purchase price limits vary by county but range between $271,150 and $384,300
  • Home must be owner-occupied

 

Rate shopping tips

Regardless of your credit score or income, you can take steps to potentially secure a lower mortgage rate. Here are a few tips:

Contact at least three lenders on the same day

Mortgage rates change daily and according to lender, so compare mortgage rates from at least three different lenders on the same day.

Give all lenders the same exact information

Before you speak with a lender, pull together important financial, income and employment information, as well as key documents, such as bank and retirement account statements. Make sure you give every lender you contact the exact same information.

Add up all lender fees to compare the total cost of a mortgage

Besides comparing interest rates, you’ll want to make an apples-to-apples comparison of all lender fees, including underwriting fees and any discount points you’re required to pay to score a lower interest rate. Comparing fees can also help ensure you’re not being overcharged. The easiest way to compare a mortgage’s total cost is to ask lenders to provide you with an annual percentage rate (APR), which will include both the interest rate and any fees.

Know when to lock in the rate

Once you feel comfortable with a lender, make sure to ask about your options to lock in a mortgage rate. By locking in a rate, you’ll be able to avoid an unpleasant surprise if market interest rates go up. Most mortgage rate-locks last between 30 and 60 days, but you may be able to lock your rate for up to 120 days.

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