Buyer Resources - Articles

Buying Your Home - What You Can Afford

How much does my real estate agent need to know?
Real estate agents would say that the more you tell them, the better they can negotiate on your behalf. However, the degree of trust you have with an agent may depend upon their legal obligation. Agents working for buyers have three possible choices: They can represent the buyer exclusively, called single agency, or represent the seller exclusively, called sub- agency, or represent both the buyer and seller in a dual-agency situation. Some states require agents to disclose all possible agency relationships before they enter into a residential real estate transaction. 


What can I afford?
Know what you can afford is the first rule of home buying, and that depends on how much income and how much debt you have. In general, lenders don't want borrowers to spend more than 28 percent of their gross income per month on a mortgage payment or more than 36 percent on debts. It pays to check with several lenders before you start searching for a home. Most will be happy to roughly calculate what you can afford and prequalify you for a loan. The price you can afford to pay for a home will depend on six factors:
1. gross income
2. the amount of cash you have available for the down payment, closing costs and cash reserves required by the lender
3. your outstanding debts
4. your credit history
5. the type of mortgage you select
6. current interest rates

Another number lenders use to evaluate how much you can afford is the housing expense-to-income ratio. It is determined by calculating your projected monthly housing expense, which consists of the principal and interest payment on your new home loan, property taxes and hazard insurance (or PITI as it is known). If you have to pay monthly homeowners association dues and/or private mortgage insurance, this also will be added to your PITI. This ratio should fall between 28 to 33 percent, although some lenders will go higher under certain circumstances. Your total debt-to-income ratio should be in the 34 to 38 percent range. Again, lenders will identify options and some have ability to approve ratios higher, it "pays' to shop around if you are outside of these guidelines. There are also 100% programs for qualifiers and low down payment options when criteria is met. Ask and explore. Michele can share her resources for you to explore your options. 

When is the best time to buy?
Here are some frequently cited reasons for buying a house:
* You need a tax break. The mortgage interest deduction can make home ownership very appealing.
* You are not counting on price appreciation in the short term.
* You can afford the monthly payments.
* You plan to stay in the house long enough for the appreciation to cover your transaction costs. The costs of buying and selling a home includes lender fees and closing costs. Often the offer can be negotiated to include some of these expenses if you need to use your cash for the down payment.  
* You prefer to be an owner rather than a renter. 

 
Home ownership is about security.  About setting roots and making memories. There is no perfect time to buy or sell, it is about your personal timing. Certainly as interest rates are low and sellers are motivated, buyers can identify good opportunities !

If you are ready to take the next step, lets talk. I can direct you to local lenders and get you started in the home buying process. There is a home waiting for You ! 

Michele Connors
Michele Connors
Broker Realtor, Advisor