Before you get emotionally attached to a beautiful house, check your monthly budget to determine how much house you can afford. You need to leave room in your budget for other things, so make sure your monthly housing costs (including HOA fees, taxes, insurance, etc.) are going to be no more than 25% of your monthly take-home pay.

For example, let’s say you bring home $5,000 a month. Multiply that by 25% to establish your maximum monthly house payment of $1,250. Based on a 15-year mortgage with a 4% fixed interest rate, here are the home options you can afford (not including taxes and insurance):

  • $187,767 home with a 10% down payment ($18,777)
  • $211,238 home with a 20% down payment ($42,248)
  • $241,415 home with a 30% down payment ($72,424)
  • $281,650 home with a 40% down payment ($112,660)

That’s an easy way to find a number in your ballpark. But don’t forget that property taxes and homeowner’s insurance will affect your monthly payment. You’ll also need to factor those numbers in before settling on a maximum home price.

If you use the above example and enter $211,238 into our mortgage calculator, you’ll find that your maximum monthly payment of $1,250 increases to $1,515 when you add in $194 for taxes and $71 for insurance. To drop that number back down to your monthly housing budget of $1,250, you’ll have to lower the price of the house you can afford to $172,600.

Since property tax rates and the cost of homeowner’s insurance vary, check with your real estate agent and insurance company for estimates to calculate how much house you can afford.

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