My fiance and I are beginning the search for our first home. What's the best formula to determine how much we?

Asked by Emile Rousseau, Valley Stream, NY Tue Mar 3, 2009

can afford as a mortgage?

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Maria Cipoll…, Agent, Coral Springs, FL
Tue Dec 4, 2012
You need to start shopping around for a mortgage broker, they have access to many banks, private lenders and many different programs. Choose one that can answer all your questions and give you at least two financial options and a pre approval letter wich indicates the amount that you can be comfortable with.

Best of Luck,

Maria Cipollone

Century 21 Tenace
2 votes
Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Wed Mar 4, 2009
Yes, contact a mortgage broker/lender, get a pre-approval letter; you need to know the amount you can spend before you can even begin to look, you don't want to be disappointed by looking at unaffordable properties, let alone wasting your time; from there contact and interview Realtors who can guide you and eventually find "the home" that will be awaiting your arrival.
2 votes
Malgorzata R…, Agent, Rockville Centre, NY
Fri May 16, 2014
The process of buying your first home can be extremely daunting, and although buyers may feel overwhelmed with information, in a market where first-timers are often outbid by buyers with cash on hand, doing your research and being as prepared as possible are key.

First of all, figure out how much you can afford. Meet with a lender to review your finances and establish a realistic price range.

Shop around for a mortgage. Look up who has the lowest mortgage rates online first, then call lenders and ask for a written list of their fees so you make sure to get both the lowest rate and the lowest fees.

See if you quality for down-payment assistance. There are several of these programs offering services.

Get preapproved for a loan. This will make your offer more attractive to sellers, as there is less likelihood your loan won’t be approved while you’re in escrow. Find out from your mortgage lender what kind of paperwork you need to submit to get preapproved. These often include W-2s, pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns. Get your credit report and make sure there aren’t any abnormalities that need to be addressed.

Find a great real estate agent. . Don’t forget that if a particular agent isn’t meeting your needs, you don’t have an obligation to continue using them.

When do you find a home that you’re ready to make an offer on, take the market into account – if it’s a sellers’ market and the home is priced well, you’ll probably want to make an offer either at the asking price or possibly even a little above. If the seller knows they will get multiple offers, you want yours to stand out.

Just like everyone else who you employ in your home search, you are free to use a home inspector of your choice. Get recommendations from friends and family to make sure you’re getting a trustworthy inspector.
Good Luck!
1 vote
Christian Mo…, Agent, Rockville Centre, NY
Tue May 13, 2014
Hi Emile,
Best thing to do is gather your tax returns, paystubs and credit report and see your local mortgage broker. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need further assistant.
1 vote
Katina Wright, Other Pro, Atlanta, GA
Mon Mar 9, 2009
Greetings Emile,
My answer is late and unorthodox for being a real estate agent but I would like to present a question to your question. What's wrong with buying a property that can be afforded by just ONE of your salaries?????? below your means? That can be construed as not keeping up with your classmates.....ORRRR having a SUPER COMFORTABLE lifestyle with tons of disposable income and relatively debt free. If you are going to be interested in spending a significant portion of your life with this person please take heed to what is going on in Society. Divorce and Domestic Violence is on the rise because people are stressed out over MONEY. I'm pretty sure you've seen the horror stories on the news so be proactive about this one very serious aspect of the life you are building.

Ain't no romance without Finance....are you going to throw kid$$$$ into the mix in 18 months? A man is going to say something along the lines of 'We'll make it work' or 'Everything is going to be ok' mostly due to pride. Women have a tendancy to be practical...some of us are trying to build our self esteem by wearing lables from head-to-toe or based on the number of things that we have acquired...but those of us who respect that you can't spend $4,000 when you only have $2,000 have a tendency to be reasonable and patient.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a Starter Home especially when you've managed to Save 12 months of reserves just like Suze Orman says. So you can live month-to-month hoping nobody gets laid off or sick or you can be frugal, practical and RICH. We've already gotten used to $5/gallon gas prices once so who among us doesn't it's coming back around?

Be smart, no matter what a lender tells you you can afford don't S T R E T C H your money, isn't that really the problem that we find ourselves in right now? Just because you can pay for it doesn't mean you can fford it. COMMUNICATE with your fiance, develop a financial plan....STAY MARRIED and let your money work for you, not the other way around.

Good Luck!
1 vote
Laura Carroll, Agent, Garden City, NY
Fri Jan 10, 2014
Like many of the others have posted I would check with a mortgage lender to get a preapproval amount for a home. Typically banks are right around 30% of your income should go towards a mortgage, no more than that. They will look at your overall debt level. It is also a personal preference, as you should determine what type of lifestyle you would like ot maintain. Do you like to travel? Are there other things that are important to you? You should keep all of those things in mind in conjunction with the amount the bank preapproves you for.
0 votes
Javier Menes…, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Melville, NY
Sun Dec 29, 2013
The first step is to meet with a Loan Officer. You want to know how much you qualify for first. Once a Loan Officer has pulled your credits, reviewed your tax returns, paystubs, bank statements and any other necessary documents, they can inform you of what you approve for. Then you do your own numbers and determine how much you actually can afford. The truth is that you might be pre-approved by a lender for more than you can actually afford or feel comfortable paying each month. We don't take into account any expenses that do not appear in your credit reports. We factor in your credit card payments, student loans, car notes, and anything else as it reports on your credit, but what about expenses like child care? transportation? Insurance? etc.

Once you have determined that amount you can afford, you ask the Loan Officer for a pre-approval letter and then you can begin looking for a house. If you're in need of a reliable and experienced Loan Officer, please feel free to email or call me anytime. I have offices in Long Island. Good luck!

If my response was helpful, consider clicking BEST ANSWER!

Javier Meneses
Senior Loan Officer
NMLS #23130
310 Crossways Park Drive
Woodbury, NY 11797
(516) 606-9648 Cell
(516) 740-4478 Office
(516) 918-5383 Fax
0 votes
Carolina Per…, Agent, Valley Stream, NY
Wed Dec 4, 2013
It is important for you to speak to a mortgage broker to get familiar with your qualifications. Typically I would say 25-33% of your monthly gross income is a good guess to what you can spend for your PITI payments.

Feel free to contact me and I will help you find a great mortgage broker and help you find your first home!

Carolina Perez
0 votes
, ,
Tue Apr 16, 2013
First steps:

1. Meet with a Local Mortgage Banker to get prequalified for mortgage financing. The Mortgage Banker will review all facets of your loan request to answer your questions with regards to the types of loans and maximum loan amounts you could qualify for.

2. Get a referral to a good, local, real estate attorney. Call the attorney, retain the attorney so you have her information handy when you make an offer. Having that information at time of offer helps you demonstrate to the Seller how serious you are, and they will consider your offer with more interest.

3. Line up a Home Inspector. A good home inspector will scare the heck out of you: that's what you pay him for! But you'll concentrate on the fundamentals of the property: roof free of leaks, plumbing, heating and electrical up to code and in good working order. Again, when you make an offer and you have your Home Inspector ready to go, your offer will be considered with much more interest by a Seller because you truly have your "ducks in a row" and your preparation demonstrates your serious attitude about conducting the purchase transaction in a timely manner.

4. Find an experienced Local Realtor who works in your desired shopping area. A serious pro Realtor will refuse to show you homes until you are Prequalified for mortgage financing. Don't take offense! That Realtor doesn't want you to be disappointed and wants you to have a smooth experience as you shop for your new home.

Put together your Team of real estate professionals and shop 'til you drop!

Trevor Curran
NMLS #40140
Mobile: 516-582-9181
Office: 516-829-2900
Fax: 516-829-2944
PowerHouse Solutions, Inc.
185 Great Neck Rd, Suite 240
Great Neck NY 11021
Licensed Mortgage Banker – NYS Dept. of Financial Services

*If you thought my answer was helpful, please give me a "Thumbs Up" or "Best Answer." Thanks!
0 votes
Eleanor Sams…, Agent, Valley Stream, NY
Sat Nov 24, 2012
This question can adequately be answered by a reputable real estate financing person. You can find one at your local bank or you should feel free to call or text me at 646 -201-0564 and I will provide you with the names to several. Meeting with someone does not make you committed. Listen to the information they provide you with. Discuss it with your fiance'. Based on the information you have received, your future plans and the housing market establish a real estate budget. There is no one size fits all when it comes to real estate.

You may even want to speak with several lenders. It is so much easier to move forward with your search for a home once the finances have been taken care of. You are entering into a new marriage. Time is precious. After speaking with a lender you feel comfortable with obtain a pre-approval letter. and begin your search.

This post is old. I hope you have followed the process and found a home. If not please feel free to visit my website to compare and contrast communities or look for homes in Valley Stream where you currently reside.
0 votes
Joshua Zarga…, Other Pro, Lynbrook, NY
Sat Jan 9, 2010
You need to speak to a mortgage broker. If you call me I will give you the name of one or two.
0 votes
Dan Chase, Home Buyer, Texas City, TX
Thu Jan 7, 2010
It has been 9 months since you asked this. Have you been able to find a house yet?

Did you figure out how much you could comfortably afford?
0 votes
Luke Allison, , Asheville, NC
Wed Mar 4, 2009
I am not sure of your credit score so this is subject to change, but basically do the follow:

Take your annual gross pay and divide by 12 to get your avergae monthly income.
Take 50% of that amount. This will be your approximate max debt payments.
Deduct your debt payments from your credit report (car, student loans, credit card payments, etc)
The remainder will your maximum mortgage payment including taxes and insurance.

You can calculate your mortgage payment using a rate of 5.5% because you should not get a rate higher than that.

It is possible to use a debt ratio of 55% but that only gets accepted with great credit.

If you have any questions, you are more than welcome to call me.
Luke Allison
Flagstar Bank

Apply Online:
0 votes
Shai Megiddo, Agent, Astoria, NY
Wed Mar 4, 2009
Hi Emile,
In addition to all other answers - have the last 2 years W'2 for you and fiance or tax returns if you guys are self employed.
Have a good idea how much "liquid" cash you have for the down payment.

With this information, contact your lender of choice and a pre-qualification in writing.
Good luck in your home search!
Shai Megiddo / (718)947-1541
0 votes
Penny Boyles, , King, NC
Wed Mar 4, 2009
Always the first step is to contact a mortgage lender - only one at first. Ask them to pre-approve you so they will pull your credit and get all the information they will need to properly answer your question. Then you as a couple, will need to decide on how much you are comfortable with because sometimes you qualify for more than you should buy. Determine a household budget based on your lifestyle taking into consideration the age of your vehicles, chidcare fees and other changes that may be coming into your life. Expect the unexpected and adjust your budget accordingly.
0 votes
Gail Gladsto…, Agent, 11743, NY
Tue Mar 3, 2009
Call a mortgage broker/lender and they will analyze your earnings, obligations and tell you exactly the max you can afford. Don't purchase the need room to breath financially.

If you would like a recommendation or three of good mortgage folks, contact me at and I will be happy to provide some I think are super.

Do not start househunting until you have a full LENDER PRE-COMMITMENT with only two contingencies; a contract and an appraisal.

Want some more 1st time buyer advice (no charge) me...glad to help.
Web Reference:
0 votes
Maria Cino, Agent, Valley Stream, NY
Tue Mar 3, 2009

As a general rule I would suggest you figure 33 % of your income as a safe amount for you mortgage taxes and homeowners insurance. Of course it is always best to check with your bank or a mortgage broker for more accurate figures as today things are changing quickly.

There are some great deals out there today and if this is your 1st home you should receive the stimulus tax credit if you purchase this year which is a great benefit.

If you would like give me a call at 516-872-3000 or email me at and we can discuss your options.
0 votes
Arlynn B. Pa…, Agent, Roslyn Heights, NY
Tue Mar 3, 2009
Hi Emile,
Your question seems to be cut off before you finished it and I'm thinking you wanted to know the best formula to determine how much you are able to spend on a home. If this is the correct question, my suggestion would be to speak with a reputable mortgage broker. He or she is in the best position to calculate - after ordering and examining your credit report and speaking with you about whose name the house and mortgage will be in, your current annual income, current and anticipated expenses, possible student loans, other outstanding obligations such as car loans - how much and what type of mortgage would be best for your particular situation.

I would be happy to refer several mortgage brokers to you so that you could speak with them, at no obligation. If you are interested, please call me at (516)410-3594 or email me at

Good luck!
Web Reference:
0 votes
Lenny Bobrow, Agent, Woodmere, NY
Tue Mar 3, 2009
With all the uncertainty in today's mortgage market, the rules are shifting daily, your best bet is to talk to your bank or a mortgage broker. They will ask you the appropriate questions and based on income, and debt, FICO scores etc they will tell you what you can afford and pre-approve you for a mortgage.

Many agents will not take you to see homes without a pre-approval and you certainly cannot place an offer on a home without one.

That is the only way to get an accurate amount, anything else would just be a guess.

If your credit is good, go directly to your bank. If not contact a mortgage broker/banker. If you need names I have a few I recommend.

If I can be if any help please let me know, I have lived in this area all my life and know it well.

You can visit my website to search the MLSLI and get other home buying related info.

Good Luck!!

Donna Galinsky
Pugatch Realty
0 votes
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