Understanding Your Finances
One of the first steps in homebuying is understanding your finances, because it helps you determine what you can afford.
Start by asking yourself the following questions and gather all your supporting documentation:
What is your annual gross income?
You can get a very rough estimate of your affordable home price range by multiplying your annual gross income by 2.5. For example, if your annual gross income is $50,000, you may be able to afford a home worth $125,000 (this varies depending on current interest rates, your debt, and credit history).
How much have you saved for a down payment and other costs?
You’ll have to make a down payment of at least 3%– and generally between 5 and 20% – of the purchase price to qualify for a mortgage. Also, when you get a mortgage, you’ll need to pay closing costs that include:
- Appraisal fee
- Credit report fee
- Tax services fee
- Government recording charges
- Your lender’s origination fee
Typically, these range from 2 to 5% of your purchase price.
How much do you spend each month?
You will need to account for your current living expenses, all planned future expenses and add the costs of home improvements, maintenance and repairs. For instance in 2013, owners spent an average of $2,500 for home improvements.
What is your financial cushion?
You’ve got the money for the down payment and closing costs, but you’ll also need financial reserves for life’s unexpected emergencies such as:
- Temporary job loss
- Necessary home repairs
You should also consider any future major expenses such as a wedding or college tuition.
The housing market is competitive, so make sure your financial story is clear and you’ll be able to guarantee the home you want. We’re happy to have a conversation about your current financial picture any time!