Affordability 101

If you earn $56,516, the average household income, you can afford $1,695 in total monthly payments, according to the 36% rule. The rule, which measures your debt relative to your income, is used by lenders to evaluate how much you can afford.

Key factors in calculating affordability are 1) your monthly income; 2) available funds to cover your down payment and closing costs; 3) your monthly expenses; 4) your credit profile.

  • Income – Money that you receive on a regular basis, such as your salary or income from investments. Your income helps establish a baseline for what you can afford to pay every month.
  • Funds available – This is the amount of cash you have available to put down and to cover closing costs. You can use your savings, investments or other sources.
  • Debt and expenses – It’s important to take into consideration other monthly obligations you may have, such as credit cards, car payments, student loans, groceries, utilities, insurance, etc.
  • Credit profile – Your credit score and the amount of debt you owe influence a lender’s view of you as a borrower. Those factors will help determine how much money you can borrow and what interest rate you’ll be charged. Check your credit score.

We’ll provide you with an appropriate price range based on your situation. Most importantly, we’ll take into account all your monthly obligations to determine if a home is comfortably within reach.

It’s also important to plan for the future. Consider creating a savings plan for upcoming life events, such as having a child.

For more information about home affordability, read about the total costs to consider when buying a home.

When banks evaluate your affordability, they only take into account your outstanding debts. They do not take into consideration if you want to set aside $250 every month for your retirement or if you’re expecting a baby and want to set aside additional funds. NerdWallet’s Affordability Calculator helps you easily understand how taking on a mortgage debt will affect your expenses and savings.

Questions to ask Loan Officer


The mortgage loan process can be very confusing and stressful, so I_WE_LC thought I_WE_LC might take this opportunity to share some good questions to discuss with your lender when applying for a home loan:


  1. What kind of fixed-rate and adjustable mortgage loans available?
  2. How long can I “lock-in” the financing at the current interest rate and what is the lock-in policy?
  3. Is a float down lock available in case rates drop after I have locked-in?
  4. What are the other fees a lender may charge me in conjunction with my loan?
  5. Are funds for a second mortgage available?
  6. Is there a pre-payment penalty clause? This involves extra charges for paying off the loan before maturity. About 80% of all mortgage loans are paid off early.
  7. What is the “grace” period?
  8. How late can a monthly payment be made before a late charge is assessed?
  9. What will happen if a payment is missed?
  10. If you sell your house, will the new buyer (if he/she qualifies) be able to assume your mortgage at the same interest rate?
  11. Do you have to pay “points” to get your new mortgage? Usually lenders charge points for the cost of giving you a mortgage loan. A “point” is 1% of the loan.
  12. Will the lender require mortgage insurance?
  13. Is the loan serviced locally or is the servicing sold?
  14. What will the total closing costs be?


Questions on adjustable rate mortgages:

  1. How often will the interest rate be adjusted?
  2. Is there a maximum limit on each rate change?
  3. How often will the monthly payment be adjusted?
  4. Is there a ceiling on payment adjustments?
  5. Can the term of the loan be extended?
  6. What is the maximum rate that can be charged over the life of the loan?
  7. Is there any potential for negative amortization?
  8. What is the annual percentage rate?


Jaclyn Nelson