Obviously, everyone should know exactly how much house they can actually afford to buy before they end up going online to shop or begin cruising neighborhoods scouting out the “For Sale” signs.
Generally, you can expect to acquire a home loan that is roughly two and a half times your gross annual salary. Your gross annual salary is essentially the total amount you earn in a year before taxes are deducted.
Mortgage lenders will use this to calculate your loan eligibility based on your income, credit and debt. A poor credit history and heavy debt will create a significant sense of unease on the amount lenders will be actually willing to risk. Another way to look at the amount you should borrow is to make monthly mortgage payments that are no higher than 36 percent of your gross monthly income.
Lenders can tell you if your other debts or financial obligations will reduce the amount of mortgage they will lend. A good way to finally get started is to get pre-approval from a lender. You will want to get a rough idea of what you can actually afford by finding an online mortgage calculator even before you begin to consult a lender. Some reputable online mortgage calculators include money.cnn.com and bankrate.com.
Mortgage calculators will tell how much your monthly payments would be based on the loan amount, loan term and interest rate. However, they don’t address the down payment you will make, and that amount is another important factor in how much you can actually afford.
A 20 percent down payment can open the door to getting a larger home loan, while one below 20 percent probably means you will need to put some effort into finding a lender. Some private lenders may actually accept less. Also, public agencies can provide you with a low down payment loan through private mortgage companies and banks. Be sure to check with the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Department of Veterans Affairs if you are interested in a loan with a down payment below 20 percent.