What to know about buying a house in Wyoming
If you’re a Wyoming first-time home buyer, you’ll be aware that home prices in the Equality State have been rising fast — even more quickly than nationwide. And that can be a real challenge when you’re saving for a down payment.
Fortunately, Wyoming offers some excellent help, including low-interest mortgages, home buyer education courses, and, if you’re eligible, down payment assistance of up to $10,000. Here’s how to get started.
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Wyoming home buyer overview
The median sale price in Wyoming in April 2022 was $375,000, according to Redfin. That was an increase of 26.1% over the previous 12 months.
Such high home price inflation can make it difficult for first-time home buyers to save for a down payment. But help may be at hand. So, read on for the details.
Wyoming home buyer stats
|Average Home Sale Price in WY||$375,000|
|Minimum Down Payment in WY (3%)||$11,250|
|20% Down Payment in WY||$75,000|
|Average Credit Score in WY1||722|
|Maximum WY Home Buyer Grant2||$10,000 “silent mortgage” |
loan statewide (WCDA)
Down payment amounts are based on the state’s most recently available average home sale price. “Minimum” down payment assumes 3% down on a conventional mortgage with a minimum credit score of 620.
If you’re eligible for a VA loan (backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs) or a USDA loan (backed by the US Department of Agriculture), you may not need any down payment at all.
First-time home buyer loans in Wyoming
If you’re a first-time home buyer in Wyoming with a 20% down payment, you can get a conventional loan with a low interest rate. And you never have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI).
Of course, few first-time buyers have saved enough for 20% down. But the good news is, you don’t need that much. Not by a long shot.
Borrowers can often get into a new home with as little as 3% or even 0% down using one of these low-down-payment mortgage programs:
- Conventional 97: Backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. 3% down payment and 620 minimum credit score. You can usually stop paying mortgage insurance after a few years
- FHA loan: Backed by the Federal Housing Administration. 3.5% down and a 580 minimum credit score. You’re on the hook for mortgage insurance until you refinance to a different type of mortgage, move, or pay off your loan
- VA loan: Only for veterans and service members. Zero down payment is required. Minimum credit score varies by lender but often 620. No ongoing mortgage insurance after closing. These are arguably the best mortgages available, so check your eligibility if you have a military service history
- USDA loan: For those on low-to-moderate incomes buying in designated rural areas. Zero down payment required. Credit score requirements vary by lender but often 640. Low mortgage insurance rates
- WCDA: Special mortgages with low rates for Wyoming first-time home buyers. Plus, down payment assistance for eligible borrowers (see below)
Note that government loan programs (including FHA, VA, and USDA home loans) require you to buy a primary residence. That means you can’t use these loans for a vacation home or investment property.
In addition, most programs let you use gifted money or down payment assistance (DPA) to cover your down payment and closing costs. Depending on the mortgage loan you choose, you could potentially get into your new house with minimal cash out of pocket.
If you’re unsure which program to choose for your first mortgage, your lender can help you find the right match based on your finances and home buying goals.
Wyoming first-time home buyer programs
The Wyoming Community Development Authority (WCDA) says its Standard First-Time Homebuyer product offers special mortgages with low fixed-interest rates. And your loan may come with down payment assistance (more on that below).
As is usual with state-backed mortgage programs, these loans have income limits and purchase price caps that vary by household size and county. Click that link to check whether you’re eligible.
Other qualifying criteria for Wyoming first-time home buyer loans include:
- You must be a first-time home buyer. That means you can’t have owned or part-owned a home within the last three years
- You’ll choose your lender from a list of more than 100 participating mortgage companies
- You’ll occupy the home as your principal residence
- You’ll use an FHA, USDA or VA mortgage (see above), which the WCDA adapts
- You’ll complete a home buyer education course through the Wyoming Housing Network
In addition, the home you’re buying must:
- Be a single-family home (no rentals or multifamily dwellings)
- Sit on no more than 10 acres of land
If you’re buying a manufactured home, it must rest on permanent foundations and meet FHA requirements.
Click through to the WCDA website for all the details on this mortgage program.
Wyoming first-time home buyer grants
Although the WCDA doesn’t offer grants to Wyoming first-time home buyers, its Home$tretch DPA Loan Product down payment assistance program can still be attractive to the right people. This provides a “silent” second mortgage of up to $10,000, which is an interest-free loan with no monthly payments. The money can be used toward your down payment, closing costs, and/or prepaid items (property taxes and homeowners insurance) due at closing.
True, you have to pay back your loan eventually. But you need to do so only “upon sale of the home, refinance or 30-year maturity.”
An alternative WCDA program is the Amortizing DPA Loan Product. You’ll repay this fixed-interest loan in low, equal installments over a maximum of 10 years. And you’ll need a minimum credit score of 620 to qualify.
This may be preferable if you plan to move again relatively soon and prefer not to face repaying your full Home$tretch loan at that time.
Buying a home in Wyoming’s major cities
Casper is the most affordable of Wyoming’s three biggest cities on average. And its home prices rose more slowly between 2021 and 2022. Cheyenne and Laramie both have higher home prices that are close to the statewide average. And their home prices rose more sharply than Casper’s. In Laramie’s case, prices shot up by an eye-watering 29.3 percent year-over-year.
Given the number of people who live in Wyoming, it’s perhaps unsurprising that its cities and counties appear not to have their own down payment assistance programs. At least, we couldn’t find any, though you may wish to call your local authority to double-check. Of course, everyone who’s eligible statewide can apply to the WCDA for its programs (see above).
Cheyenne first-time home buyers
The median listing price for homes in Cheyenne was $365,500 in April 2022. That was up 17.9% year-over-year, according to Realtor.com.
At those home prices, making a down payment in Cheyenne might cost:
- $10,970 for 3% down payment
- $73,100 for 20% down payment
We couldn’t find a traditional down payment assistance program on the City of Cheyenne’s website. However, its Family Self-Sufficiency program can assist those saving up for their down payment.
Casper first-time home buyers
The median listing price for homes in Casper was $279,800 in April 2022. That was up 14.4% year-over-year, according to Realtor.com.
At those home prices, making a down payment in Casper might cost:
- $8,390 for 3% down payment
- $55,960 for 20% down payment
Laramie first-time home buyers
The median listing price for homes in Laramie was $375,000 in April 2022. That was up 29.3% year-over-year, according to Realtor.com.
At those home prices, making a down payment in Laramie might cost:
- $11,250 for 3% down payment
- $75,000 for 20% down payment
Where to find home buying help in Wyoming
All the organizations we’ve listed above should provide advice freely to any first-time home buyer in Wyoming.
In addition to our selection, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides a list of statewide and city- and county-specific programs across Wyoming. The list is as follows:
What are today’s mortgage rates in Wyoming?
When you’re ready to buy, be sure to apply with at least three to five lenders to make sure you’re getting the lowest mortgage rate available.
Rate quotes can vary significantly between lenders, so shopping around for rates could save you thousands on your new home.
1Source: Experian.com 2022 study of 2021 data
2Based on a review of the state’s available DPA grants at the time this was written
The information contained on The Mortgage Reports website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by Full Beaker. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of Full Beaker, its officers, parent, or affiliates.