Are you getting ready to buy your first home? It is important to know how much you can afford before you begin looking at properties. Talking with a lender and getting pre-approved for a loan puts you in a stronger negotiating position with sellers.
As a rule, your monthly housing costs should not exceed 28% of your monthly pre-tax income. These costs include the mortgage payment, real estate taxes, and insurance. If you have long-term debts, such as student loans or car payments, your monthly payments, including your housing costs, should be less than 36% of your pre-tax monthly income. Some loans, such as VA and FHA loans, are more flexible with these basic guidelines.
Depending on which type of mortgage you select, you can consider houses in various price ranges. An adjustable-rate mortgage will usually enable you to qualify for a higher loan amount. Your real estate agent can help you make the basic calculations. Remember that buying at the top end of your price range gives you more time to outgrow your home, and can save you money over the long term.