For most people, buying a home means securing a mortgage. And while this sounds like a relatively simple and straightforward process, it doesn’t always work out that way.
There are many important questions to answer, starting with this one: how much of a mortgage can you afford?
If you neglect to address this question—along with any that are related to it—you may soon find yourself managing a payment that puts a lot of strain on your finances.
On the plus side, you don’t have to go down this path. There are many steps you can take to ensure that you only buy a home you can comfortably afford.
Here’s what you should do:
1. Review Your Budget
Before you do anything, review your budget to ensure that you have a clear understanding of your current level of income and expenses. When you combine this with knowledge of your current housing payment—either rent or a mortgage, if applicable—it’s easier to see what will work for you.
Tip: your budget can and will change as you age, so keep this in mind. Just because you can afford a particular mortgage payment now doesn’t mean this will always remain the case.
2. Seek a Pre-approval
This is another method of determining how much you can afford to borrow. It also gives you a clear idea of what a bank is willing to lend you.
The pre-approval process can generally be completed online in short order. Furthermore, the lender is likely to get back to you quickly.
Note: just because you’re pre-approved for a particular amount doesn’t mean you should actually borrow that much.
3. Talk to Your Financial Planner
If you have a financial planner, it never hurts to bring them into the process. Two heads are always better than one, especially if the other person has a long history of financial planning success.
Share your thoughts and goals, ask for feedback, and take their advice into consideration. You don’t have to listen to everything you’re told, but you might as well seek out a second opinion.
Once you do the above, shop for homes that fit into your price range. Don’t tempt yourself by visiting homes that are too expensive, as this could lead you to make a rash decision that you’ll eventually regret.
While your lender has a lot to say about how much you can borrow, they can’t really answer the true question of how much you can afford.
Take the steps above, all while exercising some patience. Doing so will help you clear your mind, thus leading you to make an informed and confident decision. And when you do that, you’re more likely to be happy with your purchase well into the future.