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How Much House Can I Afford?



“How much house can I afford?” It’s a common question from first time homebuyers in the Lake Norman area. We love first time homebuyers, and we love this area. As the local Lake Norman area experts we know this area better than anyone else. Our knowledge makes helping a couple find their first home a much easier process.


Buying your first home, whether it’s in the Lake Norman area or anywhere else, is a complicated process, and not one you should take lightly. Your first home purchase is likely the largest purchase you have ever made in your life. Because of that, we at Cloninger Properties want to help take as much of the stress out of the process as possible.


A great place to start the process is by deciding how much house you can afford. A knowledgeable mortgage expert is the perfect person to help you answer this question. We recommend Andrea Kindley with Fairview Mortgage for one reason. We have trusted her with our first time buyers for years, and there’s no one better in the Lake Norman or Charlotte, NC area.


So how much house can you afford?


There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to answering this question. It depends on your location, income, personal preferences, savings, and your house-buying plan. That said, there are some basic things you’ll want to consider.


  1. Step one is to be sure your credit is in great shape. This is the first thing a mortgage company looks at when deciding to lend you money. If you need to work on this, that’s okay. There are plenty of great tools out there to help you get your credit it tip-top shape before you start looking for your first home.
  2. Next, it’s a great idea to be debt-free for a minimum of three to six months before you make the decision to buy a home. Mortgage companies look at your debt-to-income ratio pretty seriously. Being debt-free is always going to be to your advantage.
  3. Then, decide how much of a monthly house note you can afford. A quick estimate should be at or below 25% of your monthly take-home pay.
  4. Have three months of mortgage payments (based on #2 above) in savings. You never know when life is going to turn upside down, and having a cushion in the bank relieves a lot of stress. (And it looks pretty good to a mortgage company as well!)
  5. If at all possible, plan on taking out a 15-year mortgage over a 30-year mortgage. The note will be a little bit higher, but the overall cost of financing your home will be much less over the years.
  6. Lastly, save 10-15% of the price of your home as a your down-payment.


Work with a professional real estate agent

Once you have an idea of how much house you can afford, it’s time to begin working with a real estate agent you can trust to show you homes in your price range. It’s important that you don’t look at homes above your price range because often times buyers become disappointed in the homes they feel like they “can’t have.” Looking at homes at both ends of your price range and through the middle ranges is something an experienced agent would know to help you do. That’s where Cloninger Properties Team, the local Lake Norman area experts come in. We know this area, including Charlotte, Denver, Lincolnton, Mooresville, Cornelius, and we love showing it off.


Let us help you find your first home. We’ll take the stress out of the process (as much as possible) and help you find and purchase the home of your dreams.


Keeping it real,

The Cloninger Properties Team

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