SALT LAKE CITY -- Homebuyers in Utah with a low credit score or minimal savings can receive down payment assistance through two new programs announced by state officials Monday.
Unlike previous plans, the new assistance will be available to both first-time and repeat homebuyers. Previously, only first-time homebuyers could qualify, said Grant Whitaker, president of the Utah Housing Corporation.
One of the programs, called the HomeAgain Loan, allows people to qualify for a second mortgage of up to 6 percent of the purchase price, Whitaker said. The maximum price is $320,000.
The other program, called the Score Loan, will help people with a credit score of 620 or higher to qualify for a second mortgage of up to 4 percent of the purchase price.
Currently, a credit score of at least 660 is the typical minimum score, Whitaker said, which can cause problems for a young couple without a long credit history or somebody who was forced into a short-sale that hurt their credit rating.
"It's the right time, right now, to be buying a house," Whitaker said during a news conference in front of a home for sale in the Rose Park area of Salt Lake City.
The Utah Housing Corporation was established in 1975 by the Legislature as an independent public corporation that helps low- and middle-income people obtain mortgages. Tax dollars are not used to finance or operate the corporation.
Ideally, the programs announced by the corporation will help spur the state's economic recovery, Gov. Gary Herbert said. Although Utah's unemployment is dropping and state revenues have been climbing in the past couple of years, there is still "some blood in the marketplace" because of an excess inventory of houses that has reduced prices and caused more foreclosures.
By helping buyers secure down payments, Herbert said the state is addressing one of the biggest difficulties in a purchase.
"The biggest challenge isn't making the monthly payments. It's more difficult to get the down payment," Herbert said. "This helps them over a big hurdle."