Getting a Mortgage 101 for First Time Home Buyer

The buyer’s real estate market in the Salt Lake City area is pretty intimidating these days. Each new listing attracts multiple offers within days. For anyone jumping into the market, it’s overwhelming, and to the first-time homebuyer, it might feel like plunging headfirst into a shark tank. Before taking the dive, here’s what you need to know as a new prospective buyer looking for a home mortgage.

The first question that you probably have is: what home in Salt Lake City can I even afford? This all boils down to how much money you have coming in (income), how much you have going out (debt & expenses), and what your savings look like (potential down payment and rainy-day fund). Your credit score also comes into play. If you have a higher credit score, you may qualify for an FHA loan, which requires less of a down payment—great news if your savings aren’t huge. If your score is lower, but you have larger savings on hand, a conventional mortgage is probably the way to go. And if you have a connection to the military, be sure to look into a VA loan, which typically doesn’t require any down payment at all.

Once you have gathered all of this basic financial information and know which type of loan you will most likely need for your home, it’s time to calculate how much you can spend each month on mortgage payments in Salt Lake City. Your monthly mortgage payment should be about 30% of your overall monthly income. From there, you can easily find online calculators that will give you a range that you can afford for a home based on this number, the amount of savings you have for a down payment, and the type of loan you are hoping to secure.

The next step on your mortgage journey is finding professional assistance in Salt Lake City. You’ll need someone to secure your mortgage pre-approval, finalize the loan once your offer on the home is accepted by the sellers, and help you navigate fluctuating interest rates and make sound financial decisions through the process— in other words, you need a good loan officer.

A loan officer is a representative of a financial institution (usually a bank or credit union) who assists potential home-buyers obtain a mortgage. If you already have a bank or credit union that you are comfortable with, you can begin your search for a loan officer there. If not, ask friends and family members for recommendations or go online to read reviews. Be sure to select an institution in Salt Lake City you trust and an officer that you feel secure with. This should be a person who is professional, takes the time to answer all of your questions thoroughly, responds promptly to your calls and emails, and is upfront with any and all information you need. Once you’re working with a quality loan officer, you’ll be guided step-by-step through the mortgage application process.

Remember, no matter how overwhelming it may seem, the information you need to find the right home mortgage for you is at your fingertips. The market may be hot, but with the right tools, you’ll soon be on your way to home-ownership.

Graystone Mortgage in Salt Lake City offers home loans. Learn more about Graystone at and become a homeowner through our simplified process.