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How Much House Can I Afford?

Affordability Calculator

Monthly payments shown constitute an estimate and are provided for informational purposes. This does not constitute an offer for a mortgage loan. Payments shown do not include taxes, property insurance and mortgage insurance. Calculator results do not reflect all loan types and are subject to individual program loan limits.

Home Affordability Calculator

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 If you're wondering how much house you can afford, consider the essential factors that impact affordability, such as debt-to-income ratio, credit score, and the type of home loan you choose. A Loan Officer with New American Funding (NAF) can help you understand these factors. Read on to see the elements that go into affordability and learn tips to help you make informed decisions so that you can confidently step into homebuying.

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How Does Your Debt-to-Income Ratio Impact Affordability?

Your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) directly impacts your the affordability of your home by influencing the amount of mortgage you qualify for, and the interest rate lenders offer.

  • A Lower DTI - shows that you have a manageable level of debt compared to your income, making you a less risky borrower in the eyes of lenders. A lower DTI may lead to more favorable loan terms, such as a more significant loan amount or a lower interest rate, which can ultimately increase the price range of homes you can afford.
  • A High DTI Ratio - may limit your homebuying options. Lenders may be more hesitant to approve your loan application or offer less favorable terms, such as a smaller loan amount or a higher interest rate, as they perceive you as a higher-risk borrower. A high DTI can directly impact your ability to afford a more expensive home, potentially restricting your choices and delaying your home-buying journey.

It’s not only important to understand DTI and what it means, but it’s also important to improve your DTI ratio to increase your home affordability. Consider paying down debts, increasing your income, or reducing your monthly expenses. By taking these steps, you'll prove to lenders that you're financially responsible and capable of managing a mortgage, which can positively affect your home-buying options and help you secure a home within your desired price range.

The 28%/36% Rule And Why It's Important

The 28/36 rule is an essential principle that lenders and financial experts use to determine mortgage affordability for potential homebuyers. Here are the components of the 28/36 rule:

28% Housing Expenses - This rule suggests that your monthly housing expenses, which include mortgage payments, property taxes, homeowner's insurance, and possibly homeowner association (HOA) fees, should not exceed 28% of your gross monthly income.

  • Gross income is your total earnings before tax deductions and other expenses.
  • To calculate this percentage, multiply your gross monthly income by 0.28. For example, if your gross monthly income is $5,000, your housing expenses should not exceed $1,400 ($5,000 x 0.28).

36% Total Debt Payments - The second part of the rule states that your total debt payments, including housing expenses, should not exceed 36% of your gross monthly income. Total debt payments encompass credit card bills, student loans, car loans, personal loans, and other recurring debt obligations.

  • To calculate this percentage, multiply your gross monthly income by 0.36. With a $5,000 gross monthly income, your total debt payments should not exceed $1,800 ($5,000 x 0.36).

Benefits Of The 28/36 Rule

Following the 28/36 rule helps maintain a healthy financial balance, ensuring you don't overextend yourself by taking on too much debt. Some benefits of adhering to this guideline include: 

  • Reduced Financial Stress: By limiting your housing and debt expenses, you can avoid financial strain and live comfortably within your means.
  • Improved Creditworthiness: Lenders are more likely to approve mortgage applications from borrowers with a lower debt-to-income ratio, indicating better financial management.
  • Increased Financial Flexibility: Keeping your housing and debt expenses in check allows you to allocate funds to other important financial goals, such as retirement savings, emergency funds, or investments. 

Factors To Consider When Determining How Much House You Can Afford

Four factors can help determine how much house you can afford.

  1. Income: The amount you can afford for a home depends on your income. Generally, a higher income allows for a larger budget when searching for a house. However, it is essential to maintain a healthy financial balance by adhering to guidelines like the 28/36 rule, which suggests not exceeding 28% of your gross monthly income on housing expenses and 36% on total debt payments.
  2. Cash Reserves: Possessing sufficient cash reserves demonstrates responsible financial management and helps cover upfront costs such as down payments and closing fees. These reserves include savings, money market funds, individual retirement accounts, and stocks and bonds. Sizable cash reserves can improve your chances of qualifying for a mortgage and yield more favorable loan terms.
  3. Debt And Expenses: Your existing debt and monthly fees are crucial in determining the amount you can allocate toward a mortgage payment. Minimizing obligations and reducing monthly costs can improve your DTI ratio, which can help increase your home's affordability.
  4. Credit Profile: A strong credit score can lead to better mortgage terms, making it easier to afford a more expensive home. A good credit history and score indicate a lower risk for the lender and can result in lower interest rates and more favorable terms, ultimately increasing your home-buying options.

How Does Your Credit Score Impact Affordability?

Your credit score directly impacts your mortgage interest rate, which plays a significant role in determining the affordability of a home.

  • A Higher Credit Score- indicates to lenders that you're a responsible borrower, making it more likely to receive favorable interest rates and loan terms. A higher credit score may mean lower monthly payments, enabling you to afford a larger or more expensive home while keeping your budget in check.
  • A Lower Credit Score - may lead to higher interest rates and less favorable loan terms, making it more difficult to afford a larger home. Higher interest rates mean higher monthly payments, which can strain your finances and limit buying power. A low credit score could sometimes prevent you from qualifying for a mortgage altogether, further limiting your housing options.

Your credit score significantly impacts the affordability of a home by influencing the mortgage interest rates and loan terms available to you. Improving your credit score before homebuying is always a great idea.

How Does Your Debt-To-Income Ratio Impact Affordability?

Understanding the role of DTI is vital in knowing how much house you can afford. DTI is a measurement that compares your monthly debt payments to your gross monthly income. Lenders use this ratio to assess your ability to manage and repay the mortgage you're applying for.

How To Calculate Your DTI 

To calculate your DTI, divide your total monthly debt payments by your gross monthly income. The resulting percentage is your debt-to-income ratio. Aim for a lower DTI to improve your mortgage approval and affordability chances.

How DTI Impacts Home-buying:

  • Lender Requirements: Though it depends on the lender you're working with, the lower the DTI ratio, the better. A lower DTI ratio demonstrates that you have sufficient income to cover your mortgage payments and other monthly obligations, such as credit card payments, car loans, and student loans. An experienced Loan Officer at NAF can advise you based on your personal financial circumstance.
  • Loan Approval: A high DTI ratio may indicate that you're overextended financially, which can lead to loan denial or unfavorable loan terms. On the other hand, a low DTI ratio can improve your chances of securing a mortgage with favorable interest rates and terms.
  • Budgeting: Understanding your DTI ratio can help you create a realistic budget for homebuying. Knowing your ratio can allow you to assess how much house you can afford without overextending yourself financially. 

Two Strategies For Improving Your DTI Ratio 

  1. Pay Off Or Reduce Debts: Focus on paying down high-interest debts or those with high monthly payments. Paying off and reducing debts can significantly impact your DTI ratio and improve your overall financial health.
  2. Increase your income: Explore opportunities to increase your revenue. 

How Does The Amount Of My Down Payment Impact How Much House I Can Afford?

A larger down payment can increase the price range of homes you can afford. By putting down more money upfront, you reduce the amount of your mortgage, resulting in lower monthly payments and better loan terms. 

How Does The Type Of Home Loan Impact Affordability?

When it comes to buying a home, the type of loan you choose can significantly impact affordability. Different home loan programs offer varying terms, interest rates, and qualification requirements, which can directly affect how much house you can afford. The most common types of home loans include FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA loans.

How Much House Can I Afford With An FHA Loan?

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans help first-time homebuyers and those with lower credit scores or limited down payment funds. The FHA ensures these loans, allowing lenders to offer more favorable terms, such as lower down payments and the ability to qualify with a credit score of 580 or higher.

To determine how much house you can afford with an FHA loan, consider your monthly income, existing debts, and the loan's interest rate. With an FHA, it’s also possible to get a loan with lower credit.

How Much House Can I Afford With A VA Loan? 

VA loans are available to eligible veterans, active-duty service members, and their surviving spouses. The Department of Veterans Affairs backs these loans, allowing lenders to offer competitive interest rates, no down payment requirements, and no private mortgage insurance (PMI)

The VA loan limit determines the maximum loan amount you can borrow without a down payment, but you may still be able to purchase a more expensive home with a down payment.

How Much House Can I Afford With A USDA Loan?

USDA loans (backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture) aim to encourage homeownership in rural and suburban areas. These loans offer 100% financing, low-interest rates, and no down payment requirements for eligible properties and borrowers. You must meet specific income and location requirements to qualify for a USDA loan.

 To determine how much house you can afford with a USDA loan, consider your monthly income, existing debts, and the Area Median Income (AMI) for the location where you want to buy a home.

Tips For Improving Your DTI

Because your DTI plays an essential role in the home-buying process, it's important to improve it. There are five ways to improve your DTI:

  1. Increase Your Income: Explore opportunities for career advancement, side hustles, or passive income sources to boost your monthly earnings.
  2. Pay Off Existing Debts: Prioritize paying off high-interest debts and make extra payments, when possible, to reduce the debt burden.
  3. Refinance Or Consolidate Debt: Explore options to refinance or consolidate your debts to secure lower interest rates or extend repayment terms, resulting in lower monthly payments.
  4. Limit New Debt: Avoid taking on additional debt, such as new credit cards or loans, until you've reduced your debt and improved your DTI.
  5. Create A Budget: Develop a monthly budget to track your income and expenses, helping you identify areas for potential savings and debt reduction.

Managing your debts, increasing your income when possible, and maintaining a solid financial footing will enhance your homeownership prospects.

Tips for Improving Your Home Affordability

There are various ways to improve your home's affordability, including property taxes, setting aside an emergency fund, handling repairs and maintenance, and obtaining home insurance.

Property Taxes

Property taxes are an ongoing expense that homeowners must pay annually. These taxes vary depending on the location and value of your property. To improve your home affordability:

  • Research the property tax rates in the areas you're considering for your new home.
  • Choose a location with lower property taxes.
  • Consider appealing your property tax assessment if you believe it's too high, which could lead to potential savings.

Set Aside an Emergency Fund

Unexpected expenses are a part of homeownership, whether a sudden repair or job loss. Establish and maintain an emergency fund to ensure you can afford these unforeseen expenses without jeopardizing your financial stability. Financial experts recommend setting aside three to six months of living expenses in a separate, easily accessible account. Having this financial safety net in place, you can better manage unexpected costs and maintain your home's affordability.

Repairs and Maintenance

Owning a home requires ongoing repairs and maintenance to keep it in good condition. To help estimate these costs, conduct a thorough home inspection before purchasing your house. This inspection will identify potential issues and provide a better understanding of the necessary repairs and maintenance. Additionally, set aside a budget for routine maintenance and unexpected repairs to ensure you can comfortably afford these expenses without straining your finances.

Home Insurance

Home insurance is critical to homeownership, protecting your investment from various risks, such as fire, theft, and natural disasters. Your insurance premium will depend on location, home value, and coverage limits, which can significantly impact your home's affordability. Shop around and compare quotes from multiple insurance providers to find the best coverage at the most affordable price. Additionally, consider increasing your deductible or bundling your home and auto insurance to lower your premium.

What Are The Upfront Costs Of Buying A Home?

The upfront costs of buying a home include: the down payment, closing costs, home inspection fees, appraisal fees, and additional charges such as moving expenses. Closing costs typically range from 2% to 5% of the purchase price and may include title insurance, attorney fees, and loan origination fees.

How Can I Get Assistance In Buying A Home?

Assistance in buying a home can come through government-backed loan programs, down payment assistance programs, or grants for first-time homebuyers. These programs often have income limits and other eligibility requirements. Research your local and state programs and federal programs like FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA loans to determine if you qualify for assistance.

How Much House Can I Afford Making 100k A Year?

How much you can afford depends on your financial circumstances, such as credit score, down payment size, cash reserves, and debt-to-income ratio. Use a home affordability calculator to understand your ideal loan and price range better.

How Much Should I Have Saved When Buying a Home?

When buying a home, you should have saved enough to cover the down payment (ideally 20% of the purchase price), closing costs (2-5% of the purchase price), and additional expenses like inspections and moving costs. Additionally, it's advisable to have an emergency fund set aside to cover unexpected expenses or changes in your financial situation after purchasing the home.

Why Should You Consider Buying Below Your Budget?

Buying below your budget can provide financial flexibility, reduce financial stress, and allow additional expenses such as renovations, repairs, and furnishings. It can also provide a cushion in case of unexpected life events or changes in your financial situation. By purchasing a home below your maximum budget, you can allocate funds to other financial goals, such as retirement savings or building an emergency fund.

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