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Directors of the Utah Housing Finance Agency have released $25 million in mortgage funds that will make homeownership affordable for about 350 lower-income Utah families.

William H. Erickson, UHFA executive director, said the 7.25 percent fixed-interest-rate mortgage money is now available to Utah's low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers, many of whom may find homeownership less expensive that renting an apartment.Because the down payment and closing costs are the biggest obstacles for first-time homebuyers, UHFA's 7.25 mortgage loans offer zero discount points, greatly reducing the down payment and closing costs required of UHFA homebuyers.

Downpayment assistance also is available to households earning below $25,000 annually, Erickson said.

In targeting the $25 million, Erickson said prospective buyers may qualify for these monies providing their income and cost of the home they want to buy is below certain limits. Limits vary from county to county depending on the size of the household and the location of the home purchased.

Erickson said many Utah households are paying more than $600 per month for rent and the rents could escalate, unlike a fixed mortgage payment. With UHFA's 7.25 percent interest rate, a household earning $24,000 annually could purchase a $70,000 home and pay $590 per month in payments.

UHFA also offers down payment assistance for very low-income homebuyers. Under one program, a portion of UHFA's $25 million in mortgage funds will be contributed toward down payment and closing cost requirements.

"This incredibly low rate will make the key difference in allowing many lower-income Utahns to purchase their first home. Those interested should act quickly because these low rate mortgage funds will not last long," said Erickson.