I Make $40,000 a Year, How Much House Can I Afford?


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On a salary of $40,000 per year, you can afford a house priced at around $100,000-$110,000, assuming you have some money — say, $10,000 or $15,000 — for a down payment and are not already carrying debt, such as a car loan or student loan. The number can change quite a bit when you factor in your specific numbers:

  • Your debt
  • Your down payment
  • Your taxes, insurance (and homeowners association dues, if applicable)
  • Your interest rate
  • Your loan type
  • Your lender

Understanding how these factors play into home affordability can get you closer to finding a home you can afford on your $40,000 salary.

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What Kind of House Can I Afford With $40K a Year?

On a $40,000 salary, you want to get the nicest home you can. But what amount of home mortgage loan you qualify for depends on a number of factors, including your debt, income, interest rate, down payment, type of loan, and lender.

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Understanding Debt-to-income Ratio

You may have heard that debt can seriously derail your plan to buy a house, but you might not know exactly how it does that. Here’s the scoop: A potential lender will calculate your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio by adding all your monthly debts and dividing that number by your monthly income.

Your DTI ratio determines how much home you can afford. If you have more debt, you can’t afford a bigger monthly housing payment, which means you’ll qualify for a smaller home loan. For example, if your total debt amounts are $3,000 each month and your income is $6,000 per month, your debt-to-income ratio would be 50%. This is well above the 36% guideline many mortgage lenders want to see.

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How to Factor in Your Down Payment

A down payment can also drastically impact home affordability. If you have a larger down payment, you’ll be able to afford a higher-priced home. With a down payment of 20% or more, you’ll be able to avoid the added expense of private mortgage insurance (PMI), which will in turn increase the loan amount you’ll be able to qualify for.

Try using a mortgage calculator to see how different down payment amount can affect how much home you’ll be able to qualify for.

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Factors That Affect Home Affordability

To complete the picture of home affordability, you’ll also need to consider these factors

  • Interest rates A higher interest rate means you’ll qualify for a smaller home purchase price. A lower interest rate increases how much home you’ll be able to afford.
  • Credit history and score You’ll also see that your credit score directly affects home affordability. With a good credit score, you’ll qualify for a better rate, which means you’ll qualify for a higher mortgage.
  • Taxes and insurance Higher taxes and insurance can also affect home affordability. Your lender has to take into account how much you’ll be paying in taxes and insurance and include it as part of your monthly payment.
  • Loan type Different loan types have different interest rates, down payment options, and credit requirements, which can affect home affordability.
  • Lender Your lender may be able to approve you at a higher DTI ratio — some lenders will allow the DTI to be as much as 50%.
  • Area The cost of living in your state is a top factor in determining home affordability. Price varies greatly around the country, so you may want to consider the best affordable places to live in the U.S. if you’re open to moving.

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How to Afford More House With Down Payment Assistance

If you make $40,000, how much house you can afford also depends on what programs you’re able to qualify for. Down payment assistance programs can help with home affordability. These programs offer a grant or a second mortgage to cover a down payment. These programs are often offered by the state or city you live in. They may be restricted to first-time homebuyers or low-income borrowers, but these programs are worth looking into. Examples include Washington state’s Home Advantage DPA and Virginia’s HOMEownership DPA. Look for programs in your state, county, and city. You may also want to read tips to qualify for a mortgage.

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How to Calculate How Much House You Can Afford

There are some guidelines lenders use to qualify borrowers for a mortgage. Knowing how home affordability is calculated can help you understand what income you need to make and what debts you need to pay off to qualify for a mortgage. Lenders often follow the 28/36 rule, looking for a housing payment less than 28% of a borrower’s income and total debt payments less than 36% of your income. Here’s how to calculate it.

Back-end ratio (36%): The back-end ratio is your debt-to-income ratio. Add together all of your debts (including the new mortgage payment) to make sure all debts are under 36% of your income. If your monthly income is $3,333 ($40,000/12 = $3,333), your debts (including the mortgage payment) should be no more than $1,200 ($3,333*.36).

Front-end ratio (28%): With a monthly income of $3,333, this number works out to $933.

The 35/45 Rule: It’s possible to qualify for a larger mortgage based on the 35/45 guideline, which is used at the discretion of your lender. With a monthly income of $3,333, the housing allowance (35% of your income) increases to $1,167 and the total monthly debts (45% of your income) increases to $1,500.

An easy way to calculate how much home you can afford is with a home affordability calculator.

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Home Affordability Examples

For homebuyers with a $40,000 annual income (a $3,333 monthly income), traditional guidelines of a 36% debt-to-income ratio give a maximum house payment of $1,200 ($3,333 * .36). Each example has the same amount for taxes ($2,500), insurance ($1,000), and APR (6%) for a 30-year loan term.

Example #1: Too much debt

Monthly credit card debt: $100
Monthly car payment: $300
Student loan payment: $300
Total debt = $700 total debt payments

Down payment = $20,000
Maximum DTI ratio = $3,333 * .36 = $1,200
Maximum mortgage payment = $500 ($1,200 – $700)

Home budget = $54,748

Example #2: Low-debt borrower

Monthly credit card debt: $0
Monthly car payment: $100
Student loan payment: $0
Total debt = $100

Down payment: $20,000
Maximum DTI ratio = $3,333 * .36 = $1,200
Maximum mortgage payment = $1,100 ($1,200 – $100)

Home budget = $141,791

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How Your Monthly Payment Affects Your Price Range

As shown above, your monthly debt obligations affect how much house you can afford. With a lot of debt, it’s hard to make a mortgage payment that qualifies you for the home you want.

It’s also important to keep in mind how interest rates affect your monthly payment. By paying so much interest over the course of 30 years, even small fluctuations in interest rates will affect your monthly payment. That’s why you see your neighbors scrambling to refinance their mortgages when interest rates drop.

(Learn more: Personal Loan Calculator

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Types of Home Loans Available to $40K Households

There are different types of mortgage loans available for households in the $40K range:

  • FHA loans: With Federal Housing Administration loans, you don’t have to have perfect credit or a large down payment to qualify. In fact, you can apply for a FHA loan with a credit score as low as 500.
  • USDA loans: If you live in a rural area, you’ll definitely want to look at United States Department of Agriculture loans. You may be able to qualify for a USDA mortgage with no down payment and competitive interest rates.
  • Conventional loans: For borrowers with stronger financials, conventional loans are some of the least expensive mortgages in terms of interest rates, mortgage insurance premiums, and property requirements. They’re backed by the federal government, and if you’re able to qualify for a conventional mortgage, it could save you some money.
  • VA loans: For qualified veterans and servicemembers, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs loan is quite possibly the best out there. There are zero down payment options with great interest rates. If your credit is hurting, you still might be able to get a loan since the VA doesn’t have minimum credit score requirements (though the individual lender may).

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The Takeaway

With proper planning, a salary of $40K should be able to get you into a home in many U.S. markets. However, you’ll want to make sure you keep a close eye on your credit score and save up for a down payment or find programs to help with one. Over time, the small, determined steps you take will lead you to your goals.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% – 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It’s online, with access to one-on-one help.

This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

Veterans, Service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserve may be eligible for a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by VA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. VA loans typically require a one-time funding fee except as may be exempted by VA guidelines. The fee may be financed or paid at closing. The amount of the fee depends on the type of loan, the total amount of the loan, and, depending on loan type, prior use of VA eligibility and down payment amount. The VA funding fee is typically non-refundable. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
¹FHA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by FHA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. FHA loans require an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP), which may be financed or paid at closing, in addition to monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP). Maximum loan amounts vary by county. The minimum FHA mortgage down payment is 3.5% for those who qualify financially for a primary purchase. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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