Get Pre-Approved. The only way to truly know how much home you can afford is to ask a lender. Getting pre-approved lets you know how much you can afford before shopping for your home.
What to Know:
Income: Stable income assures a lender you can make your monthly mortgage payment.
Debt: Add up auto payments, credit card payments, student loans, alimony, child support, and other debt.
Cash: Total assets, amount in checking and savings accounts, and other investments.
Determine Monthly Mortgage Payment Including Escrow. Escrow is a third party account used to retain funds including the property owner's real estate taxes and hazard insurance premiums. Escrow is only applicable in certain loan programs.
Understand Bills Associated with Homeownership. Estimate that it will cost about one percent of the purchase price per year to maintain your home. For a $200,000 home, you should budget approximately $2,000 per year or approximately $170 per month for maintenance. Condominiums and co-ops will have regular maintenance fees. You will also have utilities, gas, electric, water, sewage, cable, telephone, insurance, property tax, etc.
Establish Future Priorities and Plan for the Unexpected.
What are your needs for the new home – furniture, lawn equipment, barbecue grill? Do you plan on a new car in your near future? Do you plan to have children? How long can you survive if you lost your job?