First-Time Home Loan Eligibility
For the purposes of mortgage loans, first-time home buyers are defined as anyone who:
- Has not owned a home in the last three years
- Has owned a home, but only with a former spouse, and is now a single parent
- Has been displaced as a homemaker, but only owned said home with a former spouse
- Has only lived in non-permanent homes (mobile homes, etc.), or in permanent homes that did not comply
with applicable building codes
The following are credit score requirements for first-time home buyer loans:
- Conventional loans require a 620 credit score
- FHA loans require a 640 credit score for a 3.5% down payment
- VA loans require a 620 credit score
Other eligibility requirements include:
- Loan must be used to buy a primary residence in Utah.
- FHA loans require private mortgage insurance (PMI).
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First-Time Home Owners Loan Option
A conventional mortgage is a mortgage that is not insured by a government agency. However, conventional
mortgages typically do adhere to rules set forth by the government in the wake of the 2008 housing crisis.
A conventional mortgage is granted through a private firm. Usually, down payments on conventional mortgages
are around 5% - 20% of the sale price. Committing more to a down payment lowers the risk of a default on the
mortgage loan, which protects both the lender and the lendee, and often lowers the interest rate on the
loan. For conventional mortgages with down payments of less than 20%, the lendee is required to purchase
private mortgage insurance.
Mortgage insurance comes in two forms. Sometimes, it’s a one-time upfront payment on top of the down
payment, and sometimes it’s a smaller additional payment on top of each on-going mortgage payment. It can
also be a combination of both.
Because conventional mortgages are insured by private companies which, for the benefit of the economy, must
protect their own interests, they typically require higher financial standards from their borrowers. Higher
credit scores, incomes, and down payments are typically factored into not only the mortgage rate, but
whether the borrower gets the mortgage at all.
If you’re looking for a conventional mortgage, UFirst Credit Union offers competitive first-time home buyer
rates, and a streamlined mortgage application process. We can help you get a great
loan at a low rate, and we will never sell your loan to another institution.
A conventional mortgage, however, is not the only option for first-time home buyers in Utah. The government
offers special insurance on loans that are less stringent in terms of financial requirements. These
mortgages can be a great option for anyone in a financial tight spot.
An FHA loan is a mortgage that has been insured by the Federal Housing Administration. The point of an FHA
loan is to give lower income consumers the ability to purchase a house.
In 2008, the housing system collapsed as a result of reckless borrowing and lending. Banks would issue
loans at promotional rates, with tiny down payments, to people with low income. After the promotional rates
ended, and as rates across the board increased, these borrowers all defaulted on their loans in,
essentially, one fell swoop.
The result was mass homelessness, unemployment, and trillions of dollars lost in the stock market.
It could have been a lot worse, too. Thankfully, however, in order to cushion the blow from housing crises
like that one, the government has been insuring subprime loans since 1934.
The financial requirements for FHA borrowers are looser than conventional mortgages. For example, one’s
credit score can be as low as 640. For conventional mortgages, it’s 620. Similarly, the down payment for an
FHA mortgage can be as low as 3.5%.
In order to insure the loan, the borrower is charged an upfront fee of 1.75% of the sale price. Then, on
the on-going loan payments, an additional monthly premium must be paid. If the down payment on the FHA loan
was more than 10%, these premiums can be cancelled after 11 years.
UFirst Credit Union specializes in
all kinds of mortgages. We can even help you pre-qualify for an FHA loan!
A VA loan is similar to a conventional and FHA mortgage in that they’re all issued by private lenders like
UFirst Credit Union. However, there are also a number of key differences between VA loans and other types of
VA loans are only available to U.S. military veterans or active duty personnel. As such, they offer a
number of benefits that are not available to conventional or FHA mortgage holders. First, VA loans are
guaranteed by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs. Because they’re backed by a government
agency, there’s no need for additional mortgage insurance.
There’s a minimum credit score of 620 and, often, no required down payment making VA loans some of the most
affordable and easiest loans for which to qualify.
Some of the drawbacks include the VA funding fee. The amount of the fee paid will depend on how big the
down payment was: 2.15% if the down payment was 0%; 1.5% if the down payment was 5% to 9%; and 1.25% if the
down payment was 10% or higher. These fees help to keep the system stable by protecting lenders who expose
themselves to additional risk.
If you’re a veteran without the income, credit score, or savings needed for a conventional mortgage, your
country has your back! We can help you secure the VA loan that can help you achieve homeownership.
UFirst Credit Union would like to
thank all veterans and active duty personnel for their service. If you’re a veteran looking to buy a
house, UFCU is here to offer you all of the resources and guidance you need. Apply for a VA loan today with UFCU!
First-Time Homebuyer FAQ
What credit score do you need to buy a house in Utah?
The general rule is that your credit score should be above 620 in order to buy a house. However, this rule
is flexible for those applying for FHA or VA loans.
How Does Credit Score Factor Into A First-Time Home Loan?
A person with a credit score in the upper 500s will have a higher rate than
someone that has a credit score in the lower 700s, which means a higher monthly payment. And it could be
the difference of hundreds of dollars a month. On top of the
rate, you also have mortgage insurance to consider. Mortgage
insurance is the payment given to lenders for taking on the risk of a mortgage with a low down payment.
Your mortgage insurance is also determined by credit score and will be less for those with a better
If you’re looking to buy a home soon, it’s important to get familiar with your credit score as soon as possible. Do you have a good credit score (typically around 680
or better) or does it need some work? If you want to get it higher, here are a few tips for improving your
Credit score plays a big role in buying a house. To maintain a good credit score to
buy a house, make your payments on time. Late payments can have a very negative effect on your score.
Pay off your debts as well. You
don’t need to remove all your debt but the better debt-to-income ratio you have, the better your
credit score will be so that you can buy a house.
Establish a credit history. Having no credit history can be almost as bad
as no credit. If you need some credit history, it might be time to think about getting a small loan or
credit card that you can make payments on. This allows lenders to see a history of on-time payments and
makes you less of a risk.
Applying For A First-Time Home Loan
UFirst Credit Union offers competitive rates for all types of mortgages! If you’re unsure of where to
begin, get in touch with one of our experienced mortgage consultants and we’ll get your journey to home
Purchasing A First Home
When you speak with one of our mortgage consultants, we’ll go over your budget and find a monthly mortgage
payment that is comfortable for you. We will also review your current credit standing to determine where we
can improve it in order to help you get the best rates and the lowest costs. With a pre-approval letter in
hand, you can begin shopping with your realtor.
Once you have found your dream home, we will guide you through every step of the appraisal, inspection, and
closing processes. This includes breaking down all of the costs associated with your purchase, including
down payments, closing costs and escrow setup.
We want to make sure that your first-time home buying experience is a positive experience. We do this by
staying in constant communication with you throughout the process and by actively ensuring you are
well-prepared for every step.
Watch this webinar to learn more about the home buying process:
Still Have Questions?
If you have more questions about the logistics of first-time home buyer loans, contact our team today. We
look forward to helping you secure your new home loan.
Speak With a Mortgage Consultant