Estimating How Much Home You Can AffordIt’s the question you need to ask yourself before you even BEGIN your new home search. It’s the most important factor in determining what kind of home you can secure and where you can begin to look. It’s a crucial consideration for first-timers and veteran home buyers alike: How much can you afford to spend on your next — or first — home?

Primary rule: annual income Most experts would advise you to follow a basic rule to determine your “home buying power”: multiply your annual gross income by two and one-half. Several factors may raise or lower this number, but it is a good baseline to use as an estimate when beginning your home search. Using this rule, you can predict the amount for which you will qualify when seeking a pre-approval document from a lender — a “must-have” before beginning your home search in earnest.

Secondary rule: housing expense ratio A second rule to consider, and another that lenders will contemplate in determining your loan amount, is your ability to make a monthly mortgage payment that falls between 25 percent and 33 percent of your gross monthly income. This “housing expense ratio” can fall outside of this range to some degree (depending on a number of factors), but lenders are more likely to approve loans that deduct a smaller percentage of your monthly income. Different lenders and different loans within lending companies may require different ratios.

Debt-to-income ratio Your debt and credit history are also important considerations in this decision. Lenders will obviously look more favorably on candidates who have a history of paying their credit card bills, vehicle loans, and student loans in a timely manner, and whose debt does not exceed more than 30 percent to 40 percent of their income.

Other factors While the mortgage payment is certainly the major element of a homeowner’s monthly housing expense, there are a number of other factors prospective buyers should keep in mind when predicting and estimating these costs:

Type of mortgage: Today’s buyers have a host of mortgage options from which to choose, and can select the package that best suits their situation. These include interest-only loans, ARMs (adjustable rate mortgages), and the traditional 15 or 30-year fixed-rate loans. Talk to your lender to find out what type of mortgage is best for you.

Interest rates: At the time of this writing, interest rates remain historically low. It really is a “buyer’s market” out there, so don’t be afraid to negotiate hard with your lender to secure a more desirable rate.

Utilities: What kind of cable or satellite service will you use? How much electricity and water will the house demand? A good seller should provide 12-months worth of utility information, so that you know what costs to expect.

Maintenance: Will you need to join a homeowner’s or condominium association with the purchase of this home? There are application and monthly maintenance fees to consider.

Closing costs: There are a number of fees that must be paid when completing a real estate transaction. These “closing costs” include points, taxes, title insurance, financing costs, and the services of a professional, and usually range between 2 percent and 7 percent of the purchase price.

Repairs/decorations: Does the house need any repairs or renovations? Typically, the seller will bear the costs of any major repairs or improvements prior to the sale, but not always. Be ready to find a few things you’ll need to repair, and consider how much decorating you’ll want to do to make the house your own.

Property taxes: Property taxes are levied by the various municipalities in which your property is located. This is a tricky element to predict with a home purchase, especially with housing costs going up so dramatically in recent years.

Home owners insurance: Covering your home in case of loss, damage or injury on your property is always a good idea. There are policies designed for different types of homes, based on the number of families occupying them and whether the owner is on the premises.

Down payments: the first hurdle For most home buyers, the first hurdle to overcome in any home purchase is making the initial down payment. This is often the largest single payment you will ever make in your life, and it is usually the determining factor in whether a seller accepts your bid.

Fortunately, there are a number of sources into which you can tap to satisfy a down payment requirement. As always, speak to a tax professional for advice on using these options:

Personal savings, bonuses, and commissions

Gifts from relatives

Mutual Funds, securities, bonds

IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401(k) plans

One more note to consider on your down payment: if it is less than 20% of the total purchase, your lender may require you to also purchase Private Mortgage Insurance, or PMI. In almost every case, it is worth “stretching” your down payment to reach that 20% plateau and avoid paying PMI, as your chances of recouping your investment are quite good!

Now you are armed with all the variable expenses attached to owning a home. So pull out your calculators and budget sheets and get to work. Here is a helpful link to our mortgage calculator.

Source: Move in Today.

Greater Pensacola, FL Real Estate Experts – Making It Happen for Buyers and Sellers!

Grand Realty is a greater Pensacola real estate company that opened its doors in June of 2003. We strive to help all of our clients with their individual real estate needs, whether it’s buying a home in Pensacola FL and the surrounding area or selling their existing Pensacola property.

We have approximately 30 agents with a wide range of specialties that include:

Pensacola new home buyers

Pensacola short sales

Pensacola Foreclosures

Pensacola Investment properties

Pensacola commercial properties

Pensacola vacant land

Pensacola water front properties

Grand Realty is also proud to say we have agents who are bilingual, Spanish and Chinese that are placed throughout a good majority of Northwest Florida including Pensacola, Milton, Pace, Navarre, Perdido Key, Jay, Cantonment, Gulf Breeze, and Navarre. The Broker of Grand Realty is also licensed in Alabama. Please feel free to email or give us a call, and from everyone at Grand Realty, thanks for your business!


Grand Realty

4011 Pace Road Pace, Florida 32571 United States

Office Phone: (850) 512-1185