The question “How much home can I afford?” is a common one with new buyers, and there is no easy answer to mortgage affordability without having a lot more information. There are several ways to work out how much of a home you can afford to purchase, although the two fundamental questions to be answered first are:
a) How much of a deposit are you able to pay?
b) How much can you afford to pay each month?
The way your potential lender will work out how much to lend you is different to the way you will calculate how much you can afford to pay. Sometimes the lender will offer you more than you expected, and at other times will offer less and leave you unhappy. So what’s the difference? Let’s first look at how you might work out how much you can afford.
Mortgage Affordability: What Can You Afford to Pay?
Don’t look at your dream home, get the price, and then figure how you are going to afford it. People are very good at making themselves promises to economize, stop going out and eat frugally to afford this fabulous home – but they are also very good at failing to do these things and ending up in serious financial trouble, terminating in repossession and eviction notices.
Work out what you can afford to pay each month without making promises to yourself that you know you will ultimately fail to keep. Take the gross (pretax) income for your household, and you should be able to afford a monthly mortgage repayment of around one third of that. So if you and your partner, say, earn $4,800 between you, then you should be able to afford a monthly mortgage repayment of $1,600.
However, if you have other debts such as credit cards and student loans to pay, you should take these into consideration. If you work to about 40% of your gross income as debt, then that should work fine for you. Keep in mind that you can claim tax relief on your mortgage interest payments so once you agree a mortgage make sure you know how much you are paying each month in interest and how much is coming off the principal.
What Does the Lender Think?
Lenders evaluate your DTI or debt to income ratio. This is the ratio of your total debts to your income, so if you make $4,800 monthly and have debts of $1,730 your DTI is 100×1730/4800 = 36%.
Your lender splits this into two components: the total DTI and the proportion of that which is connected with your housing. That can include your interest and principal payments, any property taxes, any homeowner’s insurance payments and anything else connecting with buying your home such as any payments to a housing association. If you are renting, it includes your rent and any regular maintenance payments.
No more than 28% of the household’s monthly income should involve the housing component. Also, lenders like to see no more than 36% DTI. So if your household earns $4,800 monthly, you should be given a mortgage if your total debts are no more than $1,730.
Since no more than 28% should be used for housing, you can get a mortgage where your total housing costs, including repayments, insurance, etc, are no more than 28% of your $4,800 = $1,344 ( a bit less than the $1,600 estimate above). That also means that your other debts should be no more than 8% (so all debts = a maximum of 36%) or $384 monthly.
Using that example, you should be able to work out how your mortgage affordability, or much you can spend on your mortgage. Obviously, the lower your other debts, the more you can afford for your home to a maximum of 28% of your total monthly pre-tax income.
That’s the way your lender calculates it, which is not the same as you would have done. It is important to understand how your mortgage lender thinks in order to make sure that you meet their requirements.
To answer the question, ‘How much home can I afford,’ you can work out you mortgage afordability using that $1,344. If the current mortgage interest rate is 4%, and you pay around 2% annually for taxes and insurance, you can afford to pay in the region of $200,000 for your home. You would have to check with your choice of mortgage lender or building society for exact amounts.
How Much Can YOU Afford?
We can help you understand how much home you can afford with a FREE consultation. We can also get you up to date on where mortgage rates are and which loan programs fit your needs the best.