Point of Interest
Overall, Utah housing is expensive compared to other states, but a combination of historically low interest rates, low cost of living and high quality of life make this state an attractive place to call home.
Mortgage rates across the country remain at or near historic lows due to the coronavirus pandemic. In Utah, where housing prices tend to be higher than other states, low mortgage interest rates make new home purchases less of a burden.
As one of the least densely populated states in the country, Utah is often lauded as an outdoor lover’s paradise. The state has five national parks — only Alaska and California have more — eight national monuments, seven national forests and two national recreation areas, making it a great place for nature lovers to buy a home.
Getting a mortgage in Utah
There are no real barriers to homeownership in Utah. The biggest hurdle most new buyers will face is higher than average home prices. Comparing Utah to neighboring states, it ranks second-highest in median home value behind Colorado. Mortgage costs were also higher than all neighboring states but Colorado, but among the six states compared, Utah did have the highest homeownership rates.
Compared to the United States as a whole, Utah homeownership rates and median home values are higher — the prices in Utah average $256,700 versus the national average of $204,900, and 69.9% of Utah residents are homeowners versus 63.8% nationally. However, monthly ownership costs are, on average, over $50 lower than the national average, and actual mortgage costs are in line with the rest of the country.
- Median home price: $256,700
- Average 30-year fixed rate: 3.84%
- Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,497
- Homeownership rate: 69.9%
Utah state mortgage rate trends
Historically, Utah’s state mortgage rates have followed national trends while tracking slightly higher than national averages. Utah’s rates have dropped dramatically over the past two years, mirroring the historical shift seen in other parts of the country.
For 30-year fixed loans, Utah’s mortgage rate trends have decreased from an average of over 4.25% in June 2018 to about 3.5% currently. The rates on 15-year fixed loan trends were similar, with rates well over 3.5% in 2018. Now, the shorter-term loan has an average interest rate of about 3%.
Utah state current mortgage rates
Current Utah mortgage rates are attractive across the board and comparable to rates across the country. The average mortgage rate in Utah for 30-year fixed-rate loans is 3.84% currently, while the national average is at an almost historically low rate of 3.45%. The average for 30-year refinance interest rates in Utah is 4.0%.
For new homeowners, or those refinancing to a lower interest rate or shorter loan term, Utah’s 15-year fixed-rate mortgages are averaging about 3.25% currently. Nationally, the current rate is averaging about 2.62%.
The average interest rate for 5/1 ARM mortgages in Utah is currently 3.50% and the average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate jumbo mortgages is about 4.31% currently. The average national interest rates, on the other hand, are 3.19% for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages and 3.53% for 30-year jumbo fixed-rate mortgages.
First time home buyers in Utah can secure a 30-year fixed-rate FHA loan with rates averaging 2.75%. The average interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate VA loans in Utah is currently 3.03%. The national averages are 3.34% and 3.79% respectively.
Most and least expensive places to live in Utah
Considering that Utah is a mostly rural state, home prices can swing wildly from region to region. The housing mix features ultra-exclusive mountain retreats, remote, small-town living and a centralized swath of urban and suburban communities.
5 most expensive (source)
- Summit County — Summit County is home to Park City, the main location of the Sundance Film Festival, the United States’ largest independent film festival. The median home value in Summit County is $598,900.
- Wasatch County — Wasatch County is part of the Heber and the Salt Lake City–Provo-Orem metro area. The average home value in Wasatch County is $388,900.
- Morgan County — Morgan County is part of the Ogden-Clearfield metro area as well as the Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem metro area. The median home value in Morgan County follows the same trends as Wasatch County, with an average home price of $359,300.
- Salt Lake County — Salt Lake County is home city of Salt Lake City, the county seat and state capital. The median home value in this county is $281,800.
- Utah County — Utah County is home to Provo, Utah, the third-largest city in the state. The median home value in Utah County is $280,100.
5 least expensive (source)
- Millard County — Millard County is a tiny county in Utah with a population of 12,503 as of the 2010 census. That sparsely populated county can mean big savings on home prices, though, with a median home value of $145,600.
- Emery County: As of the 2010 United States Census, the population in Emery County was just 10,976, and the median home value reflected the sparse population. The median home value in Emery County is currently just $139,500.
- Carbon County — The largest city in Carbon County is Price, and the median home value is $136,100.
- San Juan County — The most populous city in San Juan County, Utah, is Blanding. The median home value is $133,200.
- Beaver County — Beaver County is a tiny county in Utah, and as of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 6,629. Its county seat and largest city is Beaver, and the median home value is $161,700.
Utah state mortgage resources and intricacies
Homeownership is about more than getting a great mortgage rate. While you can find some inexpensive homes in Utah, overall, housing is not cheap in the state. Based on reporting from Business Insider, Utah ranks 42nd in housing affordability. However, the state ranks 21st when determining the actual cost of living. The median home value in Utah is currently $355,484 and home values have gone up 5.3% over the past year. Over the past decade, the median list price per square foot has gone from $128 to $191.
Although there are no special provisions or considerations to buying a home in Utah, demand is high. Most costs associated with homebuying are also high. Average Utah closing costs are approximately $3,960 based on a home price of between $200,000 and $300,000. That puts Utah at 20th in national rankings for the highest closing costs per state. The average closing time runs close to the national average of 43 days.
Before relocating to Utah, it’s critical to know your future tax burden. Percentage-wise, Utah ranks in the top half of states with state income taxes. The top individual income tax rate in the state is 4.95%. Property taxes, however, are among the lowest in the nation. The effective rate of 0.58% ranks 43rd overall in property tax burden.
The final word
Utah’s housing prices and mortgage rates are higher than the vast majority of the country, some of which are offset by a very low property tax burden. The overall cost of living, a strong economy and an extremely high quality of life make the trade-off of expensive housing worth it to many residents. Coupled with an abundance of outdoor activities and wide-open spaces, Utah stands as one of the more sought after places in the country to purchase a home.