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House hunting can be an exciting time, but it can also be stressful until you fully understand how much house you can afford. Once you know what type or rate of mortgage that you’re approved for, you can start focusing on properties within your budget.

Consider your Budget

Lenders will consider at how much money you make and what you do with that money each month. You should be paying attention to how your income is spent.  Do you spend what you make every month, or finish each month with a chunk of savings leftover?

Lenders also look at if you are self-employed, or something like an independent contractor. If you don’t have regular pay stubs to submit to prove income, lenders may require two years of your earnings history to further show a rough average of what you make as income.

Make sure your credit score is the kind that mortgage lenders want to see. Lenders will also consider how much money you make and how much debt you have. This is called the debt-to-income ratio. They’ll look at how much you owe, versus how much money you bring in. The suggested maximum for a mortgage payment is 28 percent of your gross monthly income which is called the front-end ratio.

They consider all of these numbers, so that they can be sure the mortgage and housing expenses don’t go over a monthly budget that includes your income and ongoing monthly debt, like auto loans, student loans, credit cards and other payments.

Get pre-qualified

Getting pre-qualified when you’re house hunting can help a lot. It will help narrow down the cost of the house you’re looking for. Once you know what you want to pay monthly in a mortgage, then you can figure out the price of the house that you can feasibly look at.

This involves knowing what you can offer as a down payment and what sort of payment you can afford month-to month.

Best strategy

The best strategy for house hunting is going in with your eyes open. Learn as much as you can about potential properties, and know exactly what you can afford. Going into look at houses that are above budget can be upsetting to everyone involved. Have your finances better prepared, so when the time comes to get approved, you’re ready. Spend time working on your credit score and make sure that it’s where it needs to be, in order to get the mortgage rate that you want and can better afford.