How Much House Can You Afford?

By: Syd Johnson

Your mortgage calculator says: probably a lot less than your mortgage banker says you can.

Sometimes you can qualify for a loan but you should not accept it. Why? The monthly payments are more than you can afford. There are lots of laws in place at the state and federal level to protect customers against predatory lending, but there are still many customers around who will find that six months to a year into their loan they might have to give up their house. They cannot afford the upkeep, insurance and mortgage payments.

Your mortgage banker is giving you an estimate of how much they think you can afford, typically based on raw numbers such as your credit score, income, and available cash. What is not included in this equation is the human factor: Your spending habits.

One way to quickly look into your financial future is to use a mortgage calculator.

Take an independent inventory of your financial situation before you approach your mortgage broker, then compare your list to what is offered by your mortgage lender. If a projected payment schedule feels uncomfortable perhaps you can rework the numbers. For example: They think that you are able to pay $3500 per month for your mortgage, but you would really feel more comfortable with $2500 per month. Maybe you can give a larger down payment and then make smaller monthly payments for the life of the loan. The idea is to confront your hidden fears about how you spend your money, and how you plan to spend it in the future.

A Mortgage Calculator is a fast and easy way to get started.

There are hundreds of mortgage calculators available to help you get a realistic picture of what your monthly bills will be after you buy a home. Even if your mortgage is the same as your rent or lower than your rent, you can end up with huge bills for heating, oil, water, insurance and incidentals such as water damage. Even if you have the best insurance policies in place, there is always the deductible plus items that are not covered by your insurance policy.

Once you move into your new home, there is no apartment manager waiting to take you out of your misery, so crunch the numbers after you are approved. Don't let the excitement cloud your judgment, because it can came back haunt you.

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