How much home can I afford if I am looking to buy in Bridgewater? This is the question every person thinking of buying a home should ask. Or better yet, how much home can I easily pay for?
Before you even start looking at homes on the Internet, or thinking about going to see a real estate agent, you should take a hard look at your finances. If you’re barely able to make your rent payment each month, buying a home may not be your best option.
Yes, sometimes a mortgage can be cheaper than rent, but don’t forget, as a homeowner, you’re also responsible for taxes, homeowners insurance, repairs, and sometimes association fees. So figure out how much you can pay, then how much you can “easily” pay.
Debt To Income Ratios
Lenders use ratios to determine what you can afford to pay for a home. To follow their example, figure out your debt to income ratio yourself. It’s a handy number to have whether you obtain a mortgage or not.
Front End Ratio
This will be shown as a percentage of your gross monthly income. This number reflects what the lender believes you can afford as a loan payment based on your gross monthly income.
Back End Ratio
This number is your new mortgage payment plus all recurring debt. For example, if you pay $300 per month on your car and you pay $150 per month on a credit card, the total of $450 plus your new mortgage payment makes up the back end ratio.
Most lenders want you to keep your debt to income ratio between 34 and 38 percent. Meaning, your total monthly debt should not exceed 34 to 38 percent of your monthly income.
Expect to pay anywhere from 2 to 3 percent of the sales price for closing costs. So for example a $150,000 home will run you closing costs of about $4500 in addition to your down payment.
Loan programs can vary greatly between lenders, so it’s helpful to enlist the aid of a mortgage broker when shopping for a mortgage because they know the requirements and guidelines of many different lenders. They can shorten your shopping time and potentially save you from getting a loan with less than desirable terms.
Different lenders will have different underwriting criteria to determine the risk they are willing to undertake by providing you with a mortgage. Part of those criteria is the down payment. Programs range from no money down, a/k/a “100% financing”, to 20% down or more, and a number of factors will determine which ones (if any) you will qualify for.
Determine Your Price Range
Now that you know how much of a mortgage you can likely be approved for, you can work backwards to determine what sales price range you need to focus your search efforts on.
Experts recommend that once you’ve determined how much you believe you can afford to pay, set aside the difference between what you’re paying now and what you would be paying as a homeowner, factoring in a set amount for any unforeseen home repairs. Think of it as a “dry run” to see how well you do.
Interest rates will change how much your mortgage payment will be, and those rates change often – daily, and sometimes even hourly.
If things are too tight, consider eliminating debts and/or opting for a smaller home. Many individuals have started small and worked their way “up the ladder” of home ownership, buying successively larger homes until settling upon the one they want to live out their remaining years in.
Nothing stays the same forever – things happen, jobs are lost, people get sick, houses catch fire, whatever, so it’s a wise home buyer who plans for such contingencies, allowing plenty of breathing space between what they can afford and what they can easily pay for.
If you need help determining what that amount is, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 732-302-1771 for a no-obligation consultation, or find a reputable mortgage broker to help.