Overview of Utah Housing Market
Utah saw the fastest-growing population of any state in the past year, which led to a housing shortage in the Salt Lake City region. This means a quick real estate market and high prices, though you can avoid competing for housing if you look outside the state capital.
National Mortgage Rates
Note, for purchase the minimum down payment on a $ home is , or $
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Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
Recommended Minimum Income
This is based on our recommendation that your total monthly spend for housing and debts should not exceed 36% of your monthly income.
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Factors in Your Utah Mortgage Payment
Two costs you’ll want to factor into your budget (on top of your mortgage payment) are property taxes and homeowners insurance. As long as you own the property, you’ll be responsible for those two recurring costs.
The good news for homeowners is that Utah’s property taxes are among the lowest in the country, with an average effective property tax rate of just 0.68%. However, your primary residence must be in the state for you to access those low rates. Homeowners are only taxed on 55% of the home’s assessed value as long as the property they claim is their primary residence.
Most property taxes in Utah are set at the county level. You home is appraised by a county assessor at least every five years. This determines the market value of your home, which is what your tax rate is based on. Within your county, there are different levels of government that also have the authority to level taxes, such as cities, school districts and water districts. In addition to the automatic 45% exemption, homeowners who are low income, disabled veterans, blind or active service members serving outside the state may qualify for further property tax exemptions.
Another cost you’re responsible for is homeowners insurance. Utah, just like with property taxes, is a relative bargain for property owners. It’s one of the three-lowest average insurance premiums in the nation. Only Idaho and Oregon have cheaper rates. The average homeowner pays just $663 per year in homeowners insurance in 2016, according to our Most Affordable Places to Live study. The Insurance Information Institute reported similar numbers, with an average premium of $634 in 2014 for Utah homeowners.
Luckily, you won’t have to worry about hurricanes or coastal erosion with this landlocked state. However, you might still want to look into additional coverage for flood damage. Some areas in Utah experience a monsoon period during the summer and fall, which means seasonal flash flooding. Unfortunately, most homeowners policies exclude flood damage coverage. You have to purchase a separate policy, which you can find on through Utah insurance agencies selling National Flood Insurance Program policies. In addition to monsoons, the state also experiences wildfires which can cause widespread evacuations and home damage. You can find out more on the Utah Insurance Department website.
Costs to Expect When Buying a Home in Utah
A one-time cost you’ll have to add to your expected home-buying budget is a home inspection. While home inspections aren’t mandatory, they are highly recommended and are beneficial to you as the buyer. It’s your chance to find out the condition of the home before you occupy it, and can save you money in the long run if underlying problems are found (and can be mitigated or negotiated) before you occupy the property. Home inspections in Utah will cost you around $300 to $400, and generally include plumbing, electrical, roofing and basement inspections. For further tests, you’ll have to pay extra, but can be helpful if you’re suspecting that the home has underlying problems. Some of these additional tests include radon, methamphetamine, mold and termite detection tests.
Another one-time cost in the home buying process is actually a bundle of service fees and charges that are required by your mortgage lender, county and other various entities. These are known as closing costs. The exact total you’ll be responsible for paying depends on a number of factors including home price, mortgage lender and property location.
Average Closing Costs by County
|County||Avg. Closing Costs||Median Home Value||Closing Costs as % of Home Value|
Our Closing Costs Study assumed a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20% down payment on each county’s median home value. We considered all applicable closing costs, including the mortgage tax, transfer tax and both fixed and variable fees. Once we calculated the typical closing costs in each county we divided that figure by the county’s median home value to find the closing costs as a percentage of home value figure. Sources: US Census Bureau 2015 5-Year American Community Survey, Bankrate and government websites.
To break down the costs, the first portion of charges go to the mortgage lender. This can include processing fees, underwriting costs, broker services, document preparation, origination points and commitment. These costs aren’t fixed across lenders, so it will depend on which company you finance your mortgage through.
Further costs are for credit reports, appraisal, flood insurance, attorney fees and more. Some of these services are optional, and aren’t required for each home closing, such as an attorney, but it will depend on your situation.
Title insurance is another homebuyer cost. In Utah, the title and escrow industry are regulated by the Utah Insurance Department, which means the state licenses insurance agents and has a set of standards and policies. While most lenders require a policy to cover the lender’s interest in the property, buyers have the option to buy their own policies. Title insurance covers future claims or disputes over issues such as faulty deeds, mistakes in records and undisclosed heirs.
Utah doesn’t charge mortgage tax, transfer tax or a deed recording fee, which benefits both buyers and sellers. Some states, such as New York and Vermont charge a percentage of the home price, which can add thousands to overall costs.
Details of Utah Housing Market
What Utah lacks in population (as of 2016, an estimated 3.1 million) it makes up for with dramatic landscapes. Home to five national parks and boasting a reputation as a top winter sport destination, this lightly populated state has plenty going for it. You’ll find the most people in the Salt Lake City area. The biggest cities by population, are Salt Lake City, West Valley City, Provo, West Jordan and Orem. An overwhelming majority of the population resides in the north central area of the state in Salt Lake County, Utah County, Davis County, Weber County and Cache County. The only exception is Washington County in the southwest corner of the state where the city of St. George is located.
Utah was the fastest-growing state from 2015 to 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The population increase in this state has led to housing shortages and higher price points for buyers. According to Deseret News, 2016 was a record for the Salt Lake City housing market for both number of sales and home prices. And, for the first time in 40 years, the number of households in Utah exceeded the number of new housing units. All this leads to quick turnarounds on the market. According to the Salt Lake City Board of Realtors, properties sold in just 13 days in 2016, compared to an average of 81 days in 2009.
As a whole, Utah’s median home value increased 8.4% in the past year to $253,700, according to August 2017 data from Zillow. However, if you’re looking to buy in Salt Lake City, you’ll need to be ready to shell out a lot more. As of August 2017, the median listing price of homes listed was $397,000. A short drive south to Provo, doesn’t improve price by much: The median list price of listed homes was $300,000. Even further to the south, in St. George, median home price was $335,000. (All figures as of August 2017.)
According to SmartAsset’s Most Affordable Places to Live study, Roy, Clinton, Plain City and Kearns were the most affordable places to live in Utah. The study considered closing costs, taxes, insurance and mortgage payments for the average home and then took the cost as a proportion of median household income to determine affordability.
Local Economic Factors in Utah
Utah’s largest industries include healthcare, tourism, agriculture, mining and finance. The state also has been named one of the best places for new businesses and entrepreneurship. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Utah rated extremely high for short-term job growth, research and development funding and high-tech job growth among other positive indicators. Utah also ranked high for jobs in the arts and cultural space, tying for fourth with California out of the rest of the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The largest employers in the state are Intermountain Healthcare, state government, University of Utah, Brigham Young University and Wal-Mart, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
As of June 2017, Utah’s unemployment rate was just 3.4%, compared to the national rate of 4.4%. The per capita personal income in Utah in 2016 was $40,744 compared to the national average, $49,571. From 2015 to 2016, Utah’s PCPI increased 3.5% compared to the national change of 2.9%.
State income tax in Utah is a flat 5% for all income levels. This can mean savings for those moving from states with progressive tax rates. Sales tax in the Beehive State ranges from around 6% to just over 8%, depending on location. Finally, you won’t find an estate or inheritance tax in this state. Combined with the low property taxes in this state, the overall tax burden is low in Utah.
To help yourself gain an estimate of the price of living, you can try our cost of living calculator. It will help you compare your current budgeted expenses to your potential ones in Utah. For West Coasters looking for an outdoor paradise, you might be looking at 19% lower living costs if you move from San Francisco to Park City. If you’re a Bostonian moving to Salt Lake City, you’ll have 17% lower costs on averahe due to lower housing and food prices. Windy City residents may find a break, as well: Provo, UT is about 10% cheaper to live in than Chicago, thanks to lower housing and tax costs. Comparing housing, food and tax costs can help you gain a baseline idea of what you’ll have to budget for when moving to a new place.
Mortgage Legal Issues in Utah
Utah doesn’t have the same explicit buyer protections as some states, such as California. However, that doesn’t mean a homebuyers are out of luck. In Utah, the only explicit disclosure sellers have to make is whether methamphetamines were used, stored or manufactured in the home. Federal mandates include disclosures for lead paint disclosure for any home built prior to 1978. However, Utah real estate agents generally have sellers fill out a property disclosure that helps prevent liability by making buyers aware of any problems prior to closing on the property. .
Taking a look at Utah foreclosure laws, you’ll find that the state mostly operates under title theory. This means the property title will remain in trust until the loan is paid in full. Title theory generally means non-judicial foreclosure, as the title is secured by a “deed of trust.” Generally, deeds of trust contain power of sale provisions, which is how the loan is sped up and foreclosed upon outside of court. Non-judicial foreclosure is a speedier process than judicial foreclosures.
The general timeline starts about 36 days after a missed loan payment when a lender calls. Before 45 days, the borrower will receive a letter regarding the missed payment. During this time, the borrower can attempt to arrange a loan modification or pay the missed payments. If the borrower doesn’t pay the owed payments, after 120 the foreclosure can start. A Notice of Default is filed. The borrower has 90 days from the Notice of Default before the foreclosure sale notice. During this time, generally the borrower can “cure” the note by paying what’s due. Utah does allow lenders to sue for deficiency payment within three months of the foreclosure sale. What this means is that if the property sold for less than the loan owed, the lender can sue for the difference between the sale price and fair market value. Homeowners facing foreclosure can contact Utah Foreclosure Prevention Taskforce for free counseling and resources.
As of May 2016, Utah legislature enacted two bills regarding foreclosure and eviction law. The first bill includes a number of updates to trustee requirements, as well as an update to Utah law regarding “dual-tracking.” Federal laws prevent mortgage lenders from the practice which was foreclosing on a borrower while simultaneously considering a loan modification. This update to Utah law brings the state into conformance with the federal consumer protection. The second bill protects tenants renting a foreclosed home. Under the bill, the tenants can continue to rent up to 12 months after the sale, as long as the rental agreement was agreed upon prior to the Notice of Default recording.
Utah Mortgage Resources
|Resource||Problem or Issue||Who Qualifies||Website|
|Utah Housing Corporation - FirstHome Loan||Offers down payment and closing cost assistance.||First-time homebuyers. Applicants must meet income, credit score, loan type (FHA or VA) and home purchase price limits.||https://utahhousingcorp.org/HTML/rbDownPaymentAssistance.shtml|
|Utah Housing Corporation - HomeAgain Loan||Provides down payment assistance of up to 6% of the loan amount for down payment expenses.||First-time or repeat homebuyers. Income, loan size, loan type and credit score limits apply (min 660). Income limits are higher for HomeAgain than for FirstHome.||https://utahhousingcorp.org/pdf/HomebuyerMatrix.pdf|
|Utah Housing Corporation - Score Loan||Offers up to 4% of the mortgage loan to use for down payment and closing costs.||Previous and first-time homebuyers. The Score Loan has a lower minimum credit score (620) than HomeAgain or FirstHome.||https://utahhousingcorp.org/pdf/Form210.pdf|
|Utah Housing Corporation - NoMI Loan||Provides up to 4% of the loan for down payment and closing costs and doesn't require mortgage insurance.||Those with Fannie Mae conventional loans, not just VA or FHA loans; highest minimum credit score of all four programs (700).||https://utahhousingcorp.org/pdf/RealtorLoanMatrix.pdf|
With “Helping the People of Utah Achieve Homeownership,” as a motto, the Utah Housing Corporation (UHC) makes its mission clear. You’ll find down payment assistance programs as well as closing cost help with UHC’s lending partners. This program works with FHA, VA and Fannie Mae financing as well. First-time homebuyers as well as other homebuyers have the potential to qualify for one of UHC’s programs. Keep in mind that these programs are aimed at low income households, and you’ll have to have income below the set program limits.
Those interested in a Utah USDA home loan are in luck. Almost the entire state is eligible land, except for the urbanized Provo/Salt Lake City area. You can check to see if you meet income limits to apply for this government-backed loan option.
If you’re a homeowner in Utah facing foreclosure, the Utah Foreclosure Prevention Taskforce can provide help. The Taskforce is an arm of the Utah Housing Coalition and has a mission to provide free help to struggling homeowners.
Itching to make the move to the state that houses five amazing national parks (Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches)? Read up on your potential new home with our article on 15 things you should know before moving to Utah.
Moving for a job in this startup friendly state? Calculate what your paycheck will look like using the Utah paycheck calculator.
Lastly, if you’re ready to get serious and start house searching, take a peek at Utah’s current mortgage rates.