Take the first step home
Better Mortgage is on a mission to make homeownership accessible to all! From finding your dream home to closing on it, we make every part of the homebuying process faster, easier, and less expensive. We leverage technology and superior customer service to turn a potentially stressful time into an enjoyable experience.
How much mortgage can I afford?
Buying your first home is exciting! But, before you start hitting open houses, you need to determine how much of a mortgage you can afford.
While you might have a general idea of your budget based on your financial situation, a home affordability calculator can give you an even clearer picture. Plus, you can play around with different scenarios to see how each field impacts the results. That way, you can narrow down your home search to properties that easily fit into your budget.
The calculator will consider several factors, including your:
- Debt-to-income ratio
- Credit score
- Down payment
Your debt-to-income ratio
The reason we ask questions regarding your income and current expenses is so we can get an idea of your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Your DTI measures how much you owe in relation to your earnings, expressed as a percentage. A lower DTI ratio tells lenders that you may have room in your budget to take on a new loan, like a mortgage.
However, a higher DTI ratio suggests that you might struggle to keep up with payments on a new home loan because much of your income is already tied up servicing other debt. If your DTI ratio is too high (requirements vary by lender), you may have to buy a less expensive home or postpone your purchase until you pay off other bills.
To calculate your DTI ratio, divide your monthly debt payments by your monthly gross income and multiply by 100. For example, if you pay $2,400 toward your debt and earn $8,000 each month, your DTI ratio is 30%.
Your credit score
Your credit score tells your lender how risky it might be to give you a home loan. If you have a high score, you have a better chance of getting approved for a mortgage and securing a low interest rate. A low interest rate means a lower monthly payment, which could give you wiggle room in your budget to afford a more expensive property.
On the other hand, if you have a low credit score, you might get stuck with a high interest rate, which could mean that you can’t afford a more expensive house. Or worst case, if your score is too low, your mortgage application could get denied.
Your down payment
Your down payment is the amount of money you pay upfront toward purchasing your home on closing day. Depending on the type of mortgage you take out, down payments typically range from 3% to 20% of the sale price. For example, if you buy a $300,000 house and need to put 3% down, your down payment will be $9,000 (and at 20% down, it would be $60,000).
Your down payment reduces the principal balance of your mortgage, which lowers your required monthly payment. As a result, you may be able to afford a more expensive home if a large down payment brings your monthly housing expense in line with your budget. Plus, making a significant down payment could result in a lower interest rate, which may also allow you to buy a higher-priced property.
6 tips for buying an affordable home
You’ll need to go through several steps before buying a house. But, if you want to walk away with a mortgage that fits into your budget, here are six tips for buying an affordable home:
#1: Check your cash flow
You should first determine how a new mortgage would fit into your budget. So, take a close (and honest!) look at your current income and expenses. Then, if needed, brainstorm ways to earn more money or reduce your spending.
#2: Consider all mortgage and housing-related costs
Getting a mortgage means more than just a new monthly payment. You’ll want to consider all the upfront and ongoing costs that are associated with your mortgage and housing costs, too. When budgeting, you should factor in your down payment, closing costs, principal payment, interest on your loan, property taxes, and homeowner’s insurance. You may also have to factor in private mortgage insurance (PMI) or a homeowner’s association membership, depending on your situation.
#3: Improve your financial profile
It’s a good idea to strengthen your financial position as much as possible before applying for a mortgage. You can pay off debt, boost your credit score, or save more for a down payment. Taking a first-time homebuyer course may help you develop a strategy to improve your finances.
#4: Explore all of your mortgage options
Believe it or not, there are several types of mortgage loans available to homebuyers. You may want to explore conventional mortgages, FHA loans, and other government-backed financing options, like VA or USDA loans, to help determine which may be right for your situation. There are also many first-time homebuyer resources, which could reduce your upfront costs or help you more easily qualify.
#5: Choose a house you can handle
Being a homeowner means you can’t call a landlord to fix a broken water heater or bust pipe. Beyond the upfront costs and monthly mortgage payments, be prepared to cover home repairs and upgrades. You may also have to open up your wallet for furniture and decor. So, be sure to buy a house that you can afford to furnish and maintain.
#6: Stick to your budget
Buying a property might be a very emotional process for you. You may fall in love with a home, only to get outbid by another buyer. As much as it hurts, stay strong and stick to your budget. Otherwise, you could end up with a mortgage payment that you struggle to make. Our mortgage calculator can help you avoid borrowing too much.
Start with a better homebuying experience
At Better Mortgage, we know buying a home can be an overwhelming endeavor. That’s why we’re dedicated to making the entire homebuying and mortgage process faster, simpler, and less expensive.
We’ve partnered with real estate agents across the country that can help make your homeownership dreams a reality.
Our Better Real Estate (BRE) agents:
- Provide personalized guidance, not pushy sales tactics
- Help you secure affordable financing — whether that’s through Better or another lender
- Connect you with our trusted network of providers, such as home inspectors, appraisers, insurance agents, contractors, and more
When you’re ready to look for homes, we can help you move fast by issuing you an official pre-approval letter online in minutes. Getting a mortgage pre-approval shows sellers you’re a serious buyer. The pre-approval can also help solidify your homebuying budget and increase the likelihood that your offer will be accepted.
Our entire mortgage process — from application through funding — is 100% online, so updates are always just a few clicks away. Using a combination of effective technology and financial savvy, we can originate your loan for less money, and we pass those savings on to you. In fact, with Better Mortgage, you’ll never have to pay unnecessary lender fees or loan officer commissions, leaving you with more cash for your new place.
Are you ready to see how much you qualify for so you can find your dream home? Get pre-approved today.