How Much House Can I Afford?

I was talking to some former buyers of mine and decided to write about this topic. They are having a tough time financially right now. They were telling me that they did not even buy at the high end of their pre-approval, but they are still having trouble making the payments. I feel their pain and know that it is tough to go from renting to owning. There are a lot of expenses that they were not prepared for. The following is some advice to consider when determining how much you will be able to pay for a home.

Make a Budget

I think everyone knows to do this and I think most people do before they buy a house, but you have to be sure you take into account all your new monthly expenses. When you make your budget make sure you take all of these things into account:

Mortgage Payment
Real Estate Taxes
Car Payment
Real Estate and Car Insurance
Other Loans (ie. Student Loans)
Subscriptions (Newspaper, Netflix, Magazines)
Gas for the Car (also Tolls)
Electric Bill
Gas/ Oil Bill (for Heat if needed)
Cable Bill
Phone Bill
Other Expenses you may have
Spending Money (Leisure Money)

If you add all these expenses up and subtract them from your current income and still come up with a positive then you might be in good shape. If you are trying to figure out how much you can afford then leave the all the housing numbers blank and once again subtract all the expenses except the housing expenses from your income. The number you have left is approximately how much you can afford to spend monthly on a house. You can use a mortgage calculator tool to figure out what this will translate into for a house price. Don’t forget to leave room for all of the other housing expense such as Insurance, Taxes, and Heat.

Now that you know your budget you can probably figure out want you can afford for a house. Don’t forget to also get pre-approved from a bank to make sure they agree with your calculations. Before you go out and look for the perfect home make sure you continue reading.

Live on that budget

I highly recommend trying this next part out before attempting to purchase a home. You have done the easy part in creating a budget. Now you know exactly what you can afford. The next step is trying to live according to the budget you setup.

You can do this by taking your current housing expenses, before buying or upgrading, and subtracting them from the housing expenses you figured out in your budget. There will most likely be a positive number, if there is not then you will be downgrading and if you can afford where you live currently you should be all set. Now for the next couple of months, three months should suffice you have to try to save the amount of money that you came up with above. This is a way of making sure you are actually able to afford what you think you can without actually making the commitment. If you have no problem saving the money then your budget is right on and you are ready to go look for that house. If you could not consistently save what your budget says you must then you should revisit your budget and do a little tweaking and then give it another shot.

As always good luck, I hope you can afford the house you always wanted and if not, just keep trying you will get there.