How Much House Can I Afford?

How Much House Can I Afford?

As your trusted lender, we understand firsthand the excitement and anticipation that comes with purchasing a new home. However, as a potential homebuyer, it's crucial to approach this significant financial investment with a clear understanding of what you can truly afford.

What determines your borrowing power?

When determining how much house you can afford, your borrowing power hinges on several key factors, such as:
  • Income and Debts: Assess your total household income and current monthly debts. To calculate your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, which is one measure used to determine your lendability, you can divide the sum of all your monthly debts by your gross monthly income. Various loan programs may require different minimum DTI ratios, which can affect your borrowing power.
  • Credit Score: A strong credit score improves your chances of securing a favorable mortgage rate, ultimately impacting the amount you can borrow.
  • Down Payment: Consider how much you can put down as a down payment. A larger down payment often results in a more affordable monthly mortgage, but we understand that a 20% or greater down payment can feel unattainable, especially to first-time homebuyers. We offer zero to low down payment loan options, as well as down payment assistance programs to help you achieve homeownership. Keep in mind, a lower down payment amount could require private mortgage insurance (PMI), which would be an additional cost to consider.
  • Interest Rates and Loan Terms: Interest rates and loan terms, or the amount of time you have to pay back what you’ve borrowed, significantly influence the overall cost of a mortgage.
Why get pre-qualified first?

While mortgage calculators are useful tools for estimating what you can afford, they rely primarily on you inputting accurate information. Therefore, before house hunting, we recommend consulting a lender to get pre-qualified for a mortgage. Getting pre-qualified will offer a more comprehensive and firm understanding of your borrowing power.

In addition, it offers several other benefits:
  • Realistic budgeting: By obtaining a pre-qualification, you can set a realistic budget for your home search, helping you focus on properties within your financial reach.
  • Gives sellers' confidence: Sellers often prioritize offers from pre-qualified buyers, as they know these individuals are serious and capable of securing financing.
  • Swift decision-making: Armed with a pre-qualification, you can act quickly when you find the right home, helping to avoid delays.
Should you purchase a new home at the amount you qualify for?

It's important to recognize that the amount you're qualified for is not necessarily what you can comfortably afford. Lenders may qualify you for a larger loan, but you’ll want to consider your lifestyle, future financial goals, and ongoing expenses. Here are some additional costs to keep in mind:
  • Closing costs: Additional fees paid during closing that can include your origination fees, points, appraisal fee, credit report fee, flood certification, pre-paid interest, and more. Typically, these are 2-5% of the home’s purchase price but vary vastly depending on property location and the value of the home you are purchasing.
  • Living expenses: Ensure you can cover not only the mortgage but also everyday living expenses, including utilities, groceries, insurance, and other necessities.
  • Insurance, taxes and fees: Factor in the cost of homeowners insurance, property taxes, and any Homeownership Association (HOA) dues.
  • Planning for the future: Take into account potential life changes such as starting a family, further education, or career shifts.
  • Emergency fund and savings: Always prioritize maintaining an emergency fund and savings for unexpected expenses, routine home maintenance, or future investments.
Striking a balance between what you're qualified for and what you can truly afford is important. Remember, a thoughtful and informed approach to determining your home affordability will set the stage for a stable and financially sound homeownership journey.