How do I figure out a home price I can afford?

Determining the home price you can afford is a crucial step in the home-buying process to ensure you don’t stretch your finances too thin. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you calculate a realistic home price:

  1. Evaluate Your Financial Situation:
    • Examine your monthly income, including your salary, any additional sources of income, and regular bonuses or commissions.
    • List your monthly expenses, including housing costs (rent or current mortgage), utilities, groceries, transportation, insurance, and any outstanding debts.
    • Factor in your savings goals, emergency fund contributions, and retirement savings.
  2. Calculate Your Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI):
    • Your DTI is a crucial factor in mortgage approval. It’s the percentage of your monthly income that goes toward debt payments, including your potential new mortgage. Lenders typically prefer a DTI below 43%.
    • Calculate your DTI by dividing your total monthly debt payments (including the estimated new mortgage payment) by your monthly gross income.
  3. Determine Your Down Payment:
    • Decide how much you can comfortably allocate as a down payment. A larger down payment will reduce your monthly mortgage payment and potentially improve your loan terms.
  4. Consider Other Homeownership Costs:
    • Besides the mortgage payment, account for other homeownership expenses such as property taxes, homeowners insurance, private mortgage insurance (if applicable), maintenance, and utilities. These can vary significantly based on location and property type.
  5. Get Preapproved for a Mortgage:
    • Consult with a lender to get preapproved for a mortgage. This process considers your credit score, income, debt, and down payment to determine the loan amount you qualify for.
    • The lender will provide you with a preapproval letter that specifies the maximum mortgage amount you can afford.