How Much Home Can You Afford?
Determining how much home you can afford, or what payment you feel comfortable with, can be a trying process. Calling lenders, looking at mortgage loan programs and interest rates can be confusing, to say the least. There is an easy way to get started, and give yourself an idea of where you stand.
The first step is to find out what mortgage interest rates are at the current time. You can typically do this with a couple of phone calls to lenders or some quick searching on the internet. Get your rates on conventional fixed rate loans.
To obtain a very clear picture of how much home you can actually qualify for, the best idea is to contact a reputable local lender and let them analyze your entire situation. The lender can calculate your income-to-debt ratio, do a quick credit score and give you the information you need. Typically, lenders like to see a ratio not exceeding about 28%. This does not take into consideration long term monthly debt. As an example, to qualify for a loan, lenders may require ratios of 28% or 36%. This means you can spend up to 28% of your gross monthly income on a motgage payment, and no more than 36% of your gross monthly income on all forms of debt, mortgage included.
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Why Get Pre-Qualified?
1. Pre-qualification acts as a dry run of the loan application process. The mortgage lender will use details you provide about your credit, income, assets and debts to arrive at an estimate of how much mortgage you can afford. The whole process may take only minutes or a few hours at most, and is free.
2. While a "pre-qual" is non-binding to the lender (because the information you provide has not been verified), it does serve as a good indication to potential sellers of your general creditworthiness.
3. These days most sellers will NOT accept an offer without at least a pre-approval letter, so if you are serious about buying this is the first step towards getting you in your new home.