Can I Afford A House?

  • Home
  • /Can I Afford A House?

Can I afford a North Carolina Home

Most everyone can afford a home, town home, or condominium. There are many properties with mortgage payments under $1,000. For a lot of people, the question is, “Can I afford this particular house?” because our clients often have a home in mind.

You can easily find out how much house you can afford by using our calculator, How Much House Can I Buy. If you are seriously shopping for a home, however, you should call us to get a firm idea of the best home loan for you as well as our free pre-approval letter.

What Goes into Determining If I Can Afford a House?

  • Income
  • Credit Score
  • Monthly Expenses 
  • Cash on Hand
  • Interest Rate
  • Job Security

Affording a House on Your Income

One of the biggest factors in being able to afford a house is your income. If you want to know what we’ll first consider when deciding what you (and your co-borrower, if applicable) can borrow, there are two things all lenders review:

  1. Your monthly debt payments (including credit cards, car loans, student loans), and
  2. Your income.

The House Payment

It’s not just the home loan you’ll need to cover. There is the interest rate, of course, property taxes, and homeowner’s insurance. When lenders look at your income, they figure your total house payment, including Principal, Interest, Property Taxes, and Homeowner’s Insurance (PITI) as a percentage of your gross monthly income (that’s the money before taxes and other items are deducted from your pay).

Monthly Payment Percentages

Depending on your finances, lenders look at two percentages to decide whether you can afford a house.

  1. The first figures your house payment as a percentage of your gross monthly income. For example, if your house payment is $1,000 and your gross monthly income is $4,000, your ratio is 25 percent. The rule-of-thumb is to have a ratio here that is 20 to 35 percent.
  2. If you do have other monthly payments like auto, credit card, and student loans, lenders will calculate your house payment plus the other monthly payments as a percentage of your gross monthly income. For example, if your house payment is $1,000 and your auto payment is $500, you have total monthly payments of $1,500. This is 37 percent of a gross monthly income of $4,000. The rule-of-thumb here is to have total monthly payments that are 35 to 45 percent of your monthly income.

If your ratios are higher than this please contact us to discuss your situation, as we may still be able to help you. Our How Much House Can I Buy calculator is a good tool for you to try, too.

Affording a House with Your Credit Score

Affording a home means maintaining your credit score. Most buyers have a ballpark idea of their credit score. It is a number value that describes how well you have paid your bills, including your credit cards, home, auto, and other loans.

Your credit score ranges from a low of 300 to a high of 850. To learn which online source we recommend to get a free credit score, go to How Your Credit Score Affects Your Mortgage.

RMCR Required for Home Loan
However, if you want a home loan, you’ll need a Residential Mortgage Credit Report (RMCR). We can pull a RMCR and review your credit report from the three largest credit-scoring agencies, Equifax, Experian and Transunion. This score, sometimes called a tri-merge score, is stricter, a tighter measure of your ability to repay a mortgage. If you ask for a free pre-approval letter, we will provide you with this credit score report at no charge.

Affording a House and Your Monthly Expenses

While your credit score and income are critical to getting a home loan, your expenses are a limiting factor that you must absolutely take into account when you’re trying to afford a house. Lenders will review existing auto, credit card, and student loans. These loans are a good credit score indicator for banks if you’ve paid them in a timely fashion. Conversely, late payments on any loans will negatively affect the financial support you receive when seeking a mortgage.

Large personal loans will have an effect on what types of mortgages you qualify for, but smaller, monthly expenses can affect how much house you can afford. Budget monthly living expenses and payments in order to see how a new monthly mortgage payment will fit in with the costs of your food and fuel. Owning a home also brings unexpected expenses that you may not be able to cover along with large monthly payments. Be sure to examine your expenses and income and to determine how much house you want to afford!

Affording a House and Your Cash On Hand

Affording a house means having some cash on hand. A seller expects “earnest money” along with an offer to purchase. Lenders expect cash down payments on a home. If you put down less than 20 percent you will be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), which will increase your monthly payment and limit how much house you can afford.

Hint: Please try our What’s My Payment calculator to see how the amount of money you put down and the type of mortgage (Conventional, VA, FHA, USDA) you choose will effect how much house you can afford.

Affording a House and the Interest Rate

Once you’ve gathered all of your financial information, you’re ready to apply for a mortgage. There are a variety of expenses to a home loan that you must be prepared to pay. The main part of the loan is the principal, or large sum of money that you’re taking out to pay for the home. The principal is actually paid back through your monthly payments over the term of the loan.

The next biggest cost is the interest rate on your loan. Interest is essentially a charge for borrowing money. Interest is calculated as a percentage of the amount owed. This means that while you agree to borrow a certain amount, you’re actually paying back more than you originally borrowed. The interest is also paid through your monthly payment.

While it’s important to find a low interest rate on your mortgage, it’s important to compare other loan attributes as well. Some of these attributes include: types of loans and lender fees. It’s important to compare all of the statistics from several reputable companies before applying for a home loan.

Affording a House and Your Job Security

You will need to show your work history covering the last two years. A strong borrower will have been on the same job or in the same field or line of work for at least the past two years. If you have recently graduated from college and started a new job, do not worry.

  • Being in college counts towards your two year work history.
  • If you are self employed, it is important that you have been self employed for the past two years. You may still be able to get a mortgage if you have been self employed for less than two years, as long as you are in the same line of work for the past two years and have filed at least one tax return as a self-employed individual. You will need to send your personal and or corporate tax returns to a lender, so they can calculate your income to see how much house you can afford.

Still Have Questions?

Banks and lenders have different rules that affect how much they’ll lend you. If your finances are simple, start with our How Much House Can I Afford? to get a quick price range. For more information, or to discuss your options, email us at or call. We are available after hours and on weekends, too.

Don’t hesitate to call far ahead of your purchase. We can help you set your financing goals. And since we are an independent mortgage broker, we represent many lenders which means you can compare rates and determine the best loan to meet your needs

You have the Carolina Home Mortgage pledge that we’ll answer your questions simply and honestly. Our pledge includes a no-pester promise where we’ll wait for you to call us back if you want to work with us. In fact, if we’re not your best option, we’ll tell you who might be. Integrity counts when you work in a community for 15 years.

Helping You Make Carolina Home!