First Time Home Buyers 5 MIN READ

Utah First-Time Home Buyer Programs and Grants of 2021

Landscape of the golden arches in Utah Written by Brittany Slagle

Key takeaways:

  • Utah Housing Corporation (UHC) offers competitive mortgage loans with interest rates as low as 2.5%.
  • You can receive up to 6% of your primary mortgage as a 30-year fixed-rate second mortgage for your down payment and any closing costs.
  • Apply for additional down payment assistance of up to $15,000 through either Utah Home Grants or Community Development Corporation of Utah (CDCU).

Home Ownership in the Great Utah State

If you’ve been contemplating making the switch from a renter to a Utah homeowner, now might be the perfect time to take the plunge. 

Utah currently boasts one of the country’s leading housing markets, despite ups and downs earlier in 2020. Mortgage interest rates are at an unprecedented low, which is exactly what you’re looking for as a first-time home buyer. 

Once you factor in all of the available loan programs and down payment assistance grants for first-time buyers, you might be waking up in your dream house earlier than expected.

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7 First-Time Home Buyer Programs and Grants of 2020 

Utah has plenty of programs available for first-time home buyers, including multiple competitive loan options and the possibility of adding on generous down payment assistance. The Utah Housing Corporation (UHC) is one great resource, but other independent organizations offer similar financial assistance.

This list should help you find the right option—or options—for you.

Utah Housing Corporation Home Loans

UHC was created to provide adequate financial assistance for low and moderate-income people and families, to make homeownership a more viable option for every American. They strive to supply mortgage loans with reasonable interest rates—so that home buying doesn’t break the bank with every subsequent monthly payment.

#1 FirstHome Loan

UHC’s FirstHome loan is for Utah first time home buyers, with exceptions made for qualifying veterans and single parents. 

FirstHome grants you Utah’s lowest interest rate—2.75% as of October 25th, 2020. The exact rates may vary with time, but this UHC option will always give you the best rate. 

In addition to meeting the first-time buyer requirement, there are a few other mandatory criteria to qualify for this low interest rate:

  • Credit score of 660 or higher
  • Household income limits vary by county and household occupancy, anywhere from $82,800 for one or two-person homes, to $115,900 for houses with three or more residents. Note: Household income includes all members of a given housing unit ages 15 and up, regardless of their relations to one another.
  • Purchase price limits also vary by location—from $294,600 to $435,500

#2 HomeAgain Loan

UHC’s HomeAgain loan is quite similar to FirstHome, but with a slightly higher interest rate—3.0% instead of 2.75%. This is partly because this loan allows for higher income limits. Some higher-earning borrowers may not be eligible for FirstHome because of their annual salaries. Instead, they can opt for HomeAgain and still lock down a low interest rate.

If you don’t qualify for the FirstHome loan, you may be eligible for HomeAgain if you have a:

  • Credit score of 660 or higher
  • Qualifying income limit of $114,200 for a select few counties and $107,200 for all others. Note: Qualifying income differs slightly from overall income, so be sure to speak with a professional lender about what counts towards this total and what doesn’t.
  • Purchase price limit of $435,500 for all counties

#3 Score Loan

Score loan assists borrowers with lower credit scores—620 or higher—who don’t necessarily qualify for FirstHome or HomeAgain. This program allows families and individuals who have overcome financial hardship in the past to get back on their feet and still have a shot at moving into their dream home. In exchange, a Score loan offers a higher interest rate—3.75%.  

This program has income and purchase price limits, just like the other two UHC loans:

  • $82,500 qualifying income limit
  • $310,000 purchase price limit

In addition, all borrowers must complete the Homebuyer Education course, offered through several different UHC-approved programs. 

These three UHC loans—FirstHome, HomeAgain, and Score—are government-issued, specifically through either the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Veterans Affairs (VA). FHA loans are insured by the government, which protect individual lenders if borrowers fail to repay their mortgage. This decreased risk allows lenders to offer lower interest rates, smaller down payments, and less stringent eligibility requirements.

#4 UHC Down Payment Assistance

All borrowers who qualify for a UHC mortgage loan may also be eligible for their generous down payment assistance (DPA) to cover the required down payment and closing costs. UHC’s DPA is considered a 30-year fixed-rate second mortgage with an interest rate that is two percentage points higher than your first loan:

  • 4.75% for FirstHome
  • 5.0% for HomeAgain
  • 5.75% for Score

You’ll be eligible to receive a certain percentage of your primary home mortgage amount—6% for FirstHome and HomeAgain, and 4% for Score—as down payment assistance. Your lender will be able to determine precisely how much financial help you need based on your sale price, but you may be eligible to receive the entirety of your down payment and all or part of your closing costs through UHC.

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Additional Down Payment Assistance Grants

When it comes to first time home buyer grants, Utah has more to offer beyond UHC’s down payment assistance programs. Here are a few great options to look into for eligible first-time buyers:

  • #5 Utah Home Grants – Receive down payment assistance up to $15,000 depending on your county and city with no requirement to repay as long as you live in your new home for a designated amount of time. This opportunity is available to families, individuals, military, and single moms across most Utah counties.
  • #6 Community Development Corporation of Utah (CDCU) – The CDCU provides down payment assistance as a deferred loan, meaning these are forgivable loans after five years of living there as your primary residence, with no mandatory monthly payments and no interest. There are several unique CDCU programs available:
    • SLC Plus – Eligible borrowers purchasing within Salt Lake City may receive up to $14,000 in down payment assistance, with a purchase price limit of $332,500. The exact amount of aid is determined based on financial need.
    • Community Heroes – All qualifying “Community Heroes” are eligible for 3% to 5% of their home’s purchase price (up to $14,000), depending on the median income of the area. This is available to public servants and emergency responders, including police officers, firefighters, public school teachers, EMTs, health providers, military personnel, and more. Note: This particular program has deferred payments with no interest but is not a forgivable loan.
    • Salt Lake County – Purchasers moving into Salt Lake County (excluding Taylorsville, Salt Lake City, and West Valley City) may receive up to $10,000 in down payment assistance for homes purchased for under $350,000. 
    • Taylorsville City – Incoming residents of Taylorsville City are similarly eligible for up to $10,000 based on individual need, with the same purchase price limit of $350,000.
  • #7 HomeChoice program – The state of Utah helped create this generous fund for future homeowners with disabilities. Eligible Utah residents and their families may receive up to $45,000 for their down payment and closing costs, with an extremely low interest rate of only 1%. 

Make a Home in the Beehive State

This list is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the first time home buyer grants Utah offers. With such abundant resources, there’s no excuse not to seek out the help you need to finally buy the house of your dreams. And if you haven’t found it yet, just know, it’s out there somewhere. 

Sources:

The Salt Lake Tribune. The pandemic has supercharged Utah’s housing market.https://www.sltrib.com/news/2020/09/12/pandemic-has/

Utah Housing Corporation. https://utahhousingcorp.org/

Utah Housing Corporation. Income and Purchase Price Limits. https://utahhousingcorp.org/homebuyer/incomeAndPurchaseLimits

Find My Way Home. How Lenders Calculate Qualifying Income. https://findmywayhome.com/mortgage-credit/how-lenders-calculate-qualifying-income/

Investopedia. Household Income. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/household_income.asp

Utah Housing Corporation. Homebuyer Education. https://utahhousingcorp.org/homebuyer/education

Utah Housing Corporation. Utah Housing Corporation Down Payment Assistance Loan Program. https://utahhousingcorp.org/pdf/HomebuyerMatrix.pdf

Buy Utah Homes. Utah Home Grants. https://www.buyutahhomes.com/utah-home-grants/

Utah Housing Grants. Utah Grants Available with up to $15,000 for Down Payment Assistance.https://www.utahhousinggrants.org/

Community Development Corporation of Utah. CDCU Down Payment Assistance Program (DPA). https://cdcutah.org/images/pdfs-doc/DPA/DPA_Info_Sheet__DPA_Process.pdf

Community Development Corporation of Utah. Down Payment Assistance Program Policies and Procedures 2019-2020 (SLC Plus). https://cdcutah.org/images/pdfs-doc/DPA/DPA_Master_SLC_Plus_2019-2020_-_UPDATED_4.14.20.pdf

Community Development Corporation of Utah. Down Payment Assistance Program Policies and Procedures 2019-2020 (Community Heroes). https://cdcutah.org/images/pdfs-doc/DPA/DPA_Master_Community_Heroes_2019-2020_-_UPDATED_4.14.20.pdf

Buy Utah Homes. HomeChoice Program. https://www.buyutahhomes.com/utah-home-grants/homechoice/


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