Find out what house you can afford. Before you go out shopping for a home, it’s a good idea to pre-qualify for your mortgage with a lender. This will let you know how much you can afford and boost your bargaining power with home sellers. Lenders base how much you can afford on a variety of factors:
- Monthly Payments. Many lenders require your total mortgage payment, including principal, interest, property taxes and property insurance to be no more than 28%-33% of your gross monthly income depending on your down payment.
- Debts. Lenders generally require your monthly ownership costs (mortgage interest, principal, property taxes and insurance) plus other monthly debt payments (car loan, student loan, credit card payments), to be no more than 36%-38% of your gross monthly income.
- Credit Record. Do you have a good credit record? If not, is there a good explanation for any late or missing payments listed on your credit report? Check your credit ratings with one or more of the three big credit-reporting agencies.
o Experian (TRW) (www.experian.com) 888.397.3742.
o Equifax (www.equifax.com) 800.997.2493.
o Trans-Union (http://www.tuc.com/) 800.888.4213.
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- Employment record. Lenders will look more favorably on someone who has had the same job or occupation for the past several years than someone who has changed fields frequently. If you’re self-employed or work on a commission, lenders will require more financial documentation (personal and business tax returns, balance sheet, and profit-and-loss statements).
Note: Lender guidelines are designed to be flexible. Even, if you don’t meet all of the lender requirements, you may still qualify for financing.