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How Much Can I Afford?

Courtesy of Gibbard Hoffart Financial

If you're thinking about buying your first house, one of the first questions you may ask yourself is, "How much can I afford?" Below, please find some tips to consider before you set out to find the home of your dreams:

Consider your annual household income. This is a key factor when determining how much of a mortgage you can afford. In addition to calculating your annual household income, consider any income changes that may impact your ability to make your payments. For example, if there are currently two major income sources within your household, would you still be able to afford your mortgage if one was removed? What if a child comes into the picture and your partner decides to become a stay-at-home parent? Consider all factors before deciding.

Consider your down payment. Currently, you are required to have at least a 5% down payment when buying a house. The size of your down payment is one factor in determining the size of mortgage you can afford.

Consider your debt. When determining "How much can I afford?" one of the other important factors to take into account is the amount of debt you currently have. The lower your debt-to-income ratio, the more money you'll likely have to put towards your mortgage. In addition, your debt level will also help to determine how large of a mortgage you will qualify for.

Consider your amortization period. If you are simply trying to keep your regular mortgage payments low in order to comfortably fit the payment into your budget, you will probably want to apply for a mortgage with a longer amortization period. However, if you don't mind a somewhat larger regular monthly payment in order to save money on interest in the long run, you may want to consider a shorter amortization period.

Consider your closing costs. Closing costs are often overlooked expense that will definitely help determine how much money you can afford as a down payment.

Consider your property taxes, various types of homeowner's insurance and additional expenses. Lastly, there are a few additional expenses that may impact how much money you have to put towards your mortgage each month. Expenses like property taxes, homeowner's insurance and even things like home maintenance should be factored in before making your final decision. These costs are often overlooked but should be considered before settling on the home of your dreams.   

Leave Money for Renos. One of the best reasons for buying a home is the freedom to make it your own. So don't max out your financing just buying the property. Set aside money - or at least a plan for saving money - for the things you want to do to the place. 

How to Calculate a Home Buying Budget

When house-hunting, some factors, like the features of the home, can be adjusted once you've made your purchase, while other factors, like the location, cannot be. Finding the right home is about getting the right balance and at a price you can afford. Here is some advice on how to calculate a home buying budget.

Learn about your options - When house-hunting, you look for places that suit your needs and lifestyle. Do the same when deciding on your mortgage. Know the differences between fixed and variable interest rate mortgages and decide what amortization period best suits your situation. Payment flexibility is also important when deciding on a mortgage, to know what you can prepay, as well as options to pay less at a later date if something unexpected comes up.

Calculate your mortgage numbers - Run the numbers and settle on a price range you can afford using a convenient online mortgage calculator, which factors in your income and the size of your down payment and compares different mortgage options and payment plans. Understanding what you can afford lets you narrow your search and shop with confidence, knowing that the houses you view fit within your budget.

Get pre-approved - The home-buying process can happen very quickly, so be prepared when you find a home you want. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage puts you in a good position to make an offer when you find the right home. There's usually no cost or obligation, and it's a good opportunity to come in and talk to a mortgage expert to clarify and questions.

Don't forget to budget for closing costs. The total cost of home inspections, legal fees, land transfer taxes, property taxes, property insurance, utility hook-ups and moving expenses can add up. As a guideline, expect closing costs to be about 2% to 2.5% of the purchase price, though this can vary greatly, especially if HST applies.

Please call me at 604-567-0176 for further information and all your real estate needs