As a full-time Utah discount agent, one of the most common questions I hear is, "How much house can I afford?"

How Much House In Utah Can I Afford

Owning a Utah home is a dream for many, but the question of how much house I can afford often looms large. Navigating the complexities of home affordability can be overwhelming, especially given the ever-changing economic landscape.

Fear not, for we have created a comprehensive guide to help you understand how much house you can afford, so you can make informed decisions and turn your homeownership dream into reality.

This guide will take you through calculating "how much house can I afford," exploring different mortgage types and their impact on affordability, down payment strategies, and other factors to consider that can influence your budget. In addition, we will dive deep into the significance of credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and the importance of timing your home purchase. So, let's embark on this journey to help you find the perfect house in Utah without making you house-poor!

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Short Summary

  • Calculate your financial situation, including income, debt, and expenses, to determine home affordability.
  • Consider the 28/36 rule when budgeting for housing expenses and total debt.
  • Explore mortgage types, down payment strategies, and additional factors such as closing costs, property taxes & insurance to maximize home affordability.

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Calculating Your Utah Home Affordability

Calculate Utah Home Affordability

Understanding how much house you can afford is crucial, as homes are continually becoming more expensive, and taking on more debt than you can manage is risky. To calculate home affordability, it is necessary to evaluate all costs of owning Utah real estate, including your monthly income, debt, expenses, down payment, interest rate, and loan term.

There are a few key steps to determining home affordability, which we will explore. We will discuss the importance of assessing your monthly income, analyzing your debt and expenses, and applying the 28/36 rule.

By following these steps, you will better understand your financial capabilities and limitations, ensuring that you make a well-informed decision when purchasing your dream home.

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Assess Your Monthly Income

Monthly Income Utah

Determining your monthly income is the first step to understanding how much house you can afford. With the median Utah household income in 2023 being $74,197, it is essential to understand your current financial situation clearly. Consider all sources of income, such as salary, bonuses, and any passive income streams. Knowing your monthly income will help you set realistic expectations for your housing budget.

Once you have looked honestly at your monthly income, you can move on to analyzing your debt and expenses. By evaluating your financial situation, you can make informed decisions about the type of house you can afford and the mortgage payments you can comfortably handle.

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Analyze Your Debt and Expenses

Utah experienced the third-highest increase in non-mortgage debt from 2021 to 2022. Debt and expenses play a significant role in determining home affordability. The average Utah credit card debt is $6,040, the 28th highest in the U.S. in 2023. It is essential to consider not only credit card debt but also other debts such as student loans, car loans, and other personal loans.

Lenders will evaluate your debt payments for the upcoming ten months or more. By analyzing your debt and expenses, loan officers can minimize approving monthly mortgage payments resulting in financial stress.

Reducing your debt and managing your expenses will improve your financial health and increase your chances of securing a lower mortgage payment.

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Apply the 28/36 Rule

The 28/36 rule is a helpful guideline for calculating home affordability by assessing your monthly income. The rule recommends that your total monthly debt payments for housing expenses do not exceed 28% of your gross monthly income (before taxes), and your total debt payments should not exceed 36%. By applying this rule, you can determine the maximum amount you should spend on housing expenses and total debt, ensuring you do not take on more financial responsibility than you can comfortably handle.

Observing the 36% rule is essential, as lenders will likely impose higher interest rates on borrowers who surpass the rule. Additionally, exceeding the rule may make it challenging to keep up with other financial responsibilities, such as creating an emergency fund and saving for retirement.

By applying the 28/36 rule, you can balance home price affordability and financial stability.

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Utah Mortgage Types and Their Impact on Affordability

Types Utah Home Loans

Different types of mortgages come with varying requirements and fees that can affect home affordability. For example, conventional loans typically require a 5%-20% down payment and private mortgage insurance (PMI) if the loan-to-value is less than twenty percent. On the other hand, government-backed loans, such as Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Affairs (VA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and HARP, offer are easier to qualify for and have lower or zero down payments.

Understanding the differences between these mortgage types is crucial in determining the best option for your financial situation. I will explore conventional and government-backed loans in detail in the following paragraphs.

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Conventional Loans

Conventional loans are mortgage loans not insured or guaranteed by the U.S. government. They come in various forms and may be more challenging to obtain than FHA loans, but they typically have lower costs. Conventional loans require a minimum down payment of 3% (first-time home buyers), which can significantly determine home affordability.

Pro Tip: Most buyers will need a minimum of 5% down to qualify for a conventional mortgage loan.

While conventional loans may require a larger down payment than government-backed loans, they can offer more favorable terms for borrowers with good credit and stable income.

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Government-Backed Loans

Government-backed loans, such as FHA, VA, USDA, and HARP, offer more flexible terms and lower down payment requirements than conventional loans. For example, an FHA loan requires a credit score of 500 or higher and a minimum down payment of 3.5% of the purchase price if the credit score is 580 or higher. However, these loans also come with additional costs, such as mortgage insurance premiums (MIP).

Pro Tip: Your mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) can be removed after eleven years if you put ten percent down, or you can refinance into a conventional loan. Otherwise, MIP is for the life of the loan. 


Government-backed Utah home loans can be an attractive alternative for borrowers who don't qualify for a conventional loan or are looking for a lower down payment. It is essential to weigh the benefits and costs of these loans and choose the one that best aligns with your financial situation and home.

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Down Payment Strategies

Down payment Utah House

The size of your down payment can significantly impact your home's affordability. A larger down payment reduces the loan-to-value ratio, lowers interest rates and your monthly mortgage payment. However, saving for a sizable down payment can be challenging, especially for first-time homebuyers.

This section will discuss the benefits of a larger down payment and provide some saving tips to help you reach your goal. By carefully considering your down payment strategy and using available resources, you can increase your home affordability and secure a mortgage that fits your financial needs.

Let's explore the advantages of a larger down payment and some effective saving tips.

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The Benefits of a Larger Down Payment

A larger down payment can bring several benefits to homebuyers. Firstly, it can reduce your monthly payment since a larger down payment means you're borrowing less money. Secondly, a larger down payment can lower interest rates by reducing the mortgage lender's risk.

By making a larger down payment, you may also avoid the need for private mortgage insurance (PMI), an additional monthly cost for borrowers who put down less than 20% on a conventional loan. A larger down payment can enhance your home's affordability and make managing your monthly mortgage payments easier.

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Saving Tips for a Down Payment

Saving for a down payment can be daunting, but you can reach your goal with some planning. Some tips for saving for a down payment include reducing your expenses (Starbucks is expensive!), increasing your income through side hustles, and setting aside a portion of your income specifically for your down payment. Additionally, consider utilizing high-yield savings or a money market account to store your down payment savings, ensuring that your money works for you while you save.

Furthermore, explore any available grants, tax credits, and other Utah homebuyer assistance programs. These programs can provide valuable assistance to first-time homebuyers, making reaching your down payment goal easier and ultimately increasing your home affordability.

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Additional Factors Affecting Utah Home Affordability

When determining how much house you can afford, you need to consider all home costs. Closing costs, property taxes, homeowners insurance, home maintenance, and utilities should all be factored into your monthly budgeting process. These costs can significantly affect your overall housing expenses and should not be overlooked.

Let's dive deeper into these additional real estate costs and explore their impact on Utah home affordability. By considering all aspects of home affordability, you can make well-informed decisions and find a home that fits your financial capabilities.

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Closing Costs

Closing costs are fees associated with purchasing a home, such as title insurance, appraisal, and loan origination fees. In Utah, the buyer's closing costs typically range from 1% to 2% of the home's purchase price.

Depending on the real estate market or the individual seller's motivation, you (your agent) may be able to negotiate the buyer's closing costs to be paid at closing by the seller.

By carefully considering closing costs and exploring potential savings, you can improve your home affordability and ensure that you clearly understand the total cost of your home purchase.

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Property Taxes and Insurance

Property taxes and homeowner's insurance are additional expenses affecting the costs of owning a Utah home. Property taxes are fees imposed by the Utah County you reside in, and they can vary significantly from county to county.

Homeowners insurance, on the other hand, is a type of insurance that covers the cost of repairs and replacements in the event of a disaster.

Pro Tip: Homeowners insurance doesn't cover floods or earthquakes.


When determining your housing budget, it is crucial to account for property taxes and insurance costs. These expenses can add up over time and may significantly affect home affordability. By factoring in property taxes and insurance, you can ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of the actual cost of homeownership.

Pro Tip: Property taxes & homeowners insurance will increase over time, so your mortgage payment will increase even if your interest rate is fixed.


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Home Maintenance and Utilities

Utah Home Maintenance

Utah home maintenance and utilities are additional costs associated with homeownership that can impact affordability. Home maintenance is inevitable, so plan ahead by creating a separate savings account specifically for repairs. Roofs, furnaces, air conditioner units, and sewer lines are expensive repair costs most homeowners don't budget for.

By considering home maintenance and utility costs, you can ensure that your home affordability remains within your financial capabilities.

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Credit Score and Its Impact on Affordability

Credit Score Utah Home Buyer

Your credit score plays a role in determining if buying a home in Utah is a realistic short-term goal. A higher credit score generally results in a lower interest rate and a more affordable monthly payment. In addition, mortgage lenders use your credit score to assess the risk associated with lending you money, and a higher score indicates that you are more likely to repay your loan on time and in full.

Monitoring and improving your credit score before applying for a Utah mortgage is essential. Maintaining a good credit score can secure more favorable loan terms and boost your home's affordability. This will enable you to purchase a home that meets your needs and falls within your budget.

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Debt-to-Income Ratio and Mortgage Approval

Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio determines home affordability and mortgage approval. The DTI ratio is calculated by dividing your monthly debt payments by your monthly income. Lenders prefer debt-to-income ratios not to exceed 43 percent, although the cutoff may be 50 percent in some cases.

A high DTI ratio may hinder your mortgage approval or result in higher interest rates and additional fees. To improve your DTI ratio, consider paying off your credit cards and other persistent debts, such as your student loan payments, loans and car payments.

Reducing your debt and maintaining a low DTI ratio can increase your chances of securing a mortgage and improve home affordability.

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When to Buy: Timing Your Utah Home Purchase

Timing your home purchase can help you get the best deal and maximize your home affordability. Considering current market conditions, mortgage rates, and other factors is essential before deciding. However, it is equally important to consider your situation rather than solely relying on general market trends or forecasts about the future.

By carefully analyzing your financial situation and the current housing market, you can determine the optimal time to buy a home. This will enable you to secure the best deal possible and ensure that your home purchase aligns with your financial goals and capabilities.

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Discount Realtors In Utah Make Homes More Affordable.

Utah Discount Real Estate Broker

Most real estate agents won't admit it, but their commissions increase the cost of homeownershipFor example, the typical commission to list your Utah home for sale on the multiple listing service (MLS) with a real estate brokerage is 6% of the final sales price.

For example, if you want to sell your home for $600,000, you'll pay $36,000 in realtor commissions. The commissions are baked into the price and artificially inflate the home's price for the buyer, potentially lowering the seller's return on investment (ROI).

Don't pay high commissions to work with a Utah real estate broker!

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Buying a house? I'll rebate 50%* of my commission back to you.

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First-Time Utah Homebuyers: Affordability Tips and Programs

First-time homebuyers in Utah should take advantage of the programs and resources available to them. These programs provide valuable assistance through grants, tax credits, and low-down payment options. Utilizing these resources can increase your home affordability and make the dream of homeownership a reality.

In addition to taking advantage of these programs, first-time homebuyers should follow the tips discussed in this guide, such as improving their credit score, saving for a down payment, and considering various mortgage options. By combining these strategies with the resources available to first-time homebuyers, you can confidently navigate the process and find a home that fits your financial needs.

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FAQ - Home Buyer Affordability

Utah Home Affordability Questions

How Big Of A House Can You Afford Based On Salary?

Based on your pre-tax monthly income, you can afford a house where your total mortgage payments do not exceed 28%, and your total debts, including the mortgage, credit cards, and other loans, should not exceed 36%.

This is a great guideline to follow when considering a home purchase. It ensures that you are not overextending yourself financially and will be able to make your payments on time. It also helps to ensure you have enough money left over for other expenses and savings.

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How Expensive Of A House Can I Afford If I Make $100,000 A Year?

Based on the most common advice, if you make $100,000 per year, you can comfortably afford to purchase a house in the range of $350,000 to $500,000. To ensure that total monthly debts for housing do not exceed 28% of your annual income, you should not spend more than $2,333 on monthly mortgage payments.

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How Much Do I Have To Make A Year To Afford A $400,000 House?

To afford a $400,000 house with a 20 percent down payment, you must make an annual salary of at least $105,864. You should also have a good credit score to make sure your monthly payments on existing debt do not exceed $981, and be prepared to put down a 10 percent cash down payment of $40,000.

Making a large purchase like a house requires careful planning and preparation. First, you need to make sure you have the necessary income and credit score to qualify for a loan. Additionally, you should make sure your monthly payments on existing debt do not exceed a certain amount.

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How Much House Can You Afford On A $70,000 Salary?

If you're earning a salary of $70,000 annually, you can purchase a house between $290,000 and $360,000. This means you can commit to a monthly house payment ranging from $2,000 to $2,500.

Start planning your future today and take your first steps towards home ownership.

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In conclusion, determining how much house you can afford involves carefully analyzing your financial situation, including your income, debt, expenses, and credit score. In addition, it is crucial to consider various mortgage types, down payment strategies, and additional factors such as closing costs, property taxes, and home maintenance. By considering these factors and taking advantage of available resources, you can make well-informed decisions and secure a mortgage that fits your needs.

Remember that knowledge is power as you embark on your Utah homebuying journey. Armed with the information and insights provided in this guide, you can confidently navigate the complex world of home affordability and make your dream of homeownership a reality. Happy house hunting!

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