How Much House Can I Afford?

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In the procedure of purchasing a home, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement and evolve financially overextended. Learn what hidden costs you should budget for when calculating what you’re comfortable paying each month for a new home.

Can you afford it?

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Homeownership costs more than what you put down every month, like mortgage payments. Sure, you want plenty of living space, possibly with up-to-date appliances and institutions and a parking space or two, but can you afford it?

Numerous first-time homebuyers become “house poor,” representing that most of their revenue goes to paying for their home expenses. They hold little cash left for anything else. By assessing what invisible costs you should budget for and understanding what you can comfortably afford at the outset, you’ll be well on your way to bypassing this situation.

Related: Buy Property in Russia

Understand Your Price Range

Paul Schmidt, Easy Loans’ chief risk officer, says the first thing home buyers need to do is establish a price range and stick to it. “Knowing how much home they can aid the home buying process by allowing them to search within a given price range,” he says. Paul indicates that this not only narrows your options to a more manageable number, but it will also save you time, energy, and money.

Lenders use a series of measures to decide how large a mortgage they would be willing to approve, such as credit score, home expenses, and income.

Most mortgage businesses use a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio analysis as an essential factor. “In most cases, a homebuyer will need a DTI of 50% or less,” says Paul. That means that less than half their monthly income can go to a mortgage. So if you earn $5,000 per month and your debts are $2,500, the most you might qualify to borrow would be $2,500/month, or in the neighborhood of $350,000.

How income is ultimately translated into an approved mortgage also depends on a variety of other factors, such as property taxes, insurance, and the loan interest rate.

Assigned Your Budget

Advises to clients not to spend as much as a bank approves of you. So actually, if a lender will agree to lend you a considerable amount, you may not want to borrow all that you’re being offered. “You can do yourself financial harm that way,” he says.

Paul says that “Buyers can feel confident that they won’t be approved for more than they can afford. Although there is a wide range of what people feel comfortable paying for their mortgage, based on their specific lifestyle.”

Assume Ahead

On the other hand, SPaul points out, “You also don’t want to buy too small a home” to pinch pennies. He suggests thinking ahead three to six years to ensure the home you’re presently buying will still meet your needs down the line. Because you then may include to sell it, move, and buy a bigger house just a few years later because you have a growing home or your living space needs change. That’s expensive, too.

Interestingly, many buyers don’t look at a stated home’s price tag as much as they compare the monthly expense to what they’re currently paying, Paul says. So instead of looking at homes, say, in the $300,000 to $350,000 range, they would look at homes that cost around what they’re currently paying for an apartment rental or existing mortgage, which might be around $1,400 to $1,500-per-month. “Most people look at their existing budget and stretch it a little,” says Paul. So if a couple is currently paying $1,500 per month, they typically might look at homes that cost a little above that, such as $1,750 or $2,000 per month, he explains.

Look at the Total Cost

This, however, can be risky if the homebuyer hasn’t factored in all of the costs of ownership, starting with what it costs to buy the property.

Paul shares that fees associated with the purchase process, called closing costs, “usually range from two to 6% of the loan amount.” Closing costs include taxes, title fees, recording fees, appraisal fees, credit report fees, attorney’s fees, and survey fees, as well as origination fees and rate-lock fees, Paul says. Using that math, on a $300,000 mortgage, closing fees alone would range from $6,000-18,000.

When looking at homes, many buyers consider only the mortgage, property insurance, and tax costs without realizing several other expenses they should budget for. Utilities, for one, can be a significant expense. And if your landlord has been paying them, first-time homebuyers may not be aware that there is a separate bill for gas and electricity, not to mention water, cable, and internet.

“Buyers looking at condominiums may also pay association dues,” points out Paul, which is an added monthly fee for upkeep of the property’s exterior and common areas.

Paul also recommends budgeting for landscaping and snow removal, depending on where you live, as well as a monthly reserve for routine home maintenance, repairs, and upgrades that will come up eventually. You can’t plan for when your roof will leak, or the furnace will go wrong, he explains, but if you’ve been setting money aside each month, your finances won’t take a significant hit when you go to pay for the repairs.

Owning a home can be a satisfying and intelligent investment, but be sure to budget for all your potential costs before determining what you’re comfortable paying each month.

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