Affordability Calculator – How Much House Can I Afford?
- Affordability Calculator
Use Zillow’s affordability calculator to estimate a comfortable mortgage amount based on your current budget. Enter details about your income, down payment and monthly debts to determine how much to spend on a house.
You can afford a house up to
Based on the information you provided, a house at this price should fit comfortably within your budget.
Next: See how much you can borrow
You’ve estimated your affordability, now get pre-qualified by a lender to find out just how much you can borrow.
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Interested in refinancing your existing mortgage? Use our refinance calculator to see if refinancing makes sense for you.
Factors that impact affordability
When it comes to calculating affordability, your income, debts and down payment are primary factors. How much house you can afford is also dependent on the interest rate you get, because a lower interest rate could significantly lower your monthly mortgage payment. While your personal savings goals or spending habits can impact your affordability, getting pre-qualified for a home loan can help you determine a sensible housing budget.
How to calculate affordability
Zillow’s affordability calculator allows you to customize your payment details, while also providing helpful suggestions in each field to get you started. You can calculate affordability based on your annual income, monthly debts and down payment, or based on your estimated monthly payments and down payment amount.
Our calculator also includes advanced filters to help you get a more accurate estimate of your house affordability, including specific amounts of property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and HOA dues (if applicable). Learn more about the line items in our calculator to determine your ideal housing budget.
This is the total amount of money earned for the year before taxes and other deductions. You can usually find the amount on your W2 form. If you have a co-borrower who will contribute to the mortgage, combine the total of both incomes to get your annual income.
Total monthly debts
These are recurring monthly expenses like car payments, minimum credit card payments or student loans. You can adjust this amount in our affordability calculator as needed. For example, if you have a $250 monthly car payment and $50 minimum credit card payment, your monthly debt would be $300.
The amount of money you spend upfront to purchase a home. Most home loans require a down payment of at least 3%. A 20% down payment is ideal to lower your monthly payment, avoid private mortgage insurance and increase your affordability. For a $250,000 home, a down payment of 3% is $7,500 and a down payment of 20% is $50,000.
Debt-to-income ratio (DTI)
The total of your monthly debt payments divided by your gross monthly income, which is shown as a percentage. Your DTI is one way lenders measure your ability to manage monthly payments and repay the money you plan to borrow. Our affordability calculator will suggest a DTI of 36% by default. You can get an estimate of your debt-to-income ratio using our DTI Calculator.
The amount that a lender charges a borrower for taking out a loan. Typically, the interest rate is expressed as an annual percentage of the loan balance. The borrower makes payments (with interest) to the lender over a set period of time until the loan is paid in full. Our affordability calculator uses the current national average mortgage rate. Your interest rate will vary based on factors like credit score and down payment. Calculate your mortgage interest rate.
The length by which you agree to pay back the home loan. The most common term for a mortgage is 30 years, or 360 months, but different terms are available depending on the type of home loan that works best for your situation. You can edit your loan term (in months) in the affordability calculator’s advanced options.
When owning a home, you pay annual property taxes based on the assessed value of the property or purchase price of the home, which can affect your affordability. The tax rate you pay can vary by state, county and municipality. Our calculator assumes a property tax rate by default, but you can edit this amount in the calculator’s advanced options. To obtain a more accurate total payment amount, get pre-qualified by a lender.
Homeowner’s insurance (HOI)
Also known as homeowner’s insurance is a type of property insurance that covers a private residence. Typically, HOI is required to get a home loan. The cost may vary depending on your location, type of coverage, any discounts you qualify for and your insurance provider. Generally, homeowner’s insurance costs roughly $35 per month for every $100,000 of the home’s value. Consult your insurance carrier for the exact cost. You can edit the calculator’s default amount in the advanced options.
Private mortgage insurance (PMI)
Many lenders commonly require private mortgage insurance if a borrower contributes less than a 20% down payment on a home purchase. PMI protects the lender against losses that may occur when a borrower defaults on a mortgage loan. Our calculator bases the PMI on the home price and down payment amount. You can choose to include or exclude PMI in the advanced options of the affordability calculator.
Homeowner’s Association (HOA) dues
Some communities, such as condominiums and townhomes, are governed by a homeowner’s association (HOA) that maintains communal areas and enforces rules and regulations for a monthly fee. Any HOA dues you pay each month can affect your affordability. You can edit this number in the affordability calculator advanced options.
How much mortgage can I qualify for?
Lenders have a pre-qualification process that takes your finances (such as income and debt) into account to determine how much they are willing to lend you. Once the lender has completed a preliminary review, they generally provide a pre-qualification letter that states how much mortgage you qualify for. Get pre-qualified by a lender to confirm your affordability.
Most affordable markets for homebuyers
According to 2020 data from Zillow Research, record low mortgage rates have helped to boost affordability for potential homeowners. The table below shows the top 10 most affordable markets to live in (among the nation’s 50 largest) for December 2020 and is based on a typical home value of no more than $300,000 (the typical U.S. home value is about $270,000). The market and share of income spent on a mortgage may fluctuate based on the current mortgage rate, the typical local homeowner’s income and the typical local home value.
Frequently asked questions about affordability
While you may have heard of using the 28/36 rule to calculate affordability, the correct DTI ratio that lenders will use to assess how much house you can afford is 36/43. This ratio says that your monthly mortgage costs (which includes property taxes and homeowners insurance) should be no more than 36% of your gross monthly income, and your total monthly debt (including your anticipated monthly mortgage payment and other debts such as car or student loan payments) should be no more than 43% of your pre-tax income.
For example, if you make $3,000 a month ($36,000 a year), you can afford a mortgage with a monthly payment no higher than $1,080 ($3,000 x 0.36). Your total household expense should not exceed $1,290 a month ($3,000 x 0.43).
With a FHA loan, your debt-to-income (DTI) limits are typically based on a 31/43 rule of affordability. This means your monthly payments should be no more than 31% of your pre-tax income, and your monthly debts should be less than 43% of your pre-tax income. However, these limits can be higher under certain circumstances.
If you make $3,000 a month ($36,000 a year), your DTI with an FHA loan should be no more than $1,290 ($3,000 x 0.43) — which means you can afford a house with a monthly payment that is no more than $900 ($3,000 x 0.31).
FHA loans typically allow for a lower down payment and credit score if certain requirements are met. The lowest down payment is 3.5% for credit scores that are 580 or higher. If your credit score is between 500-579, you may still qualify for an FHA loan with a 10% down payment. Keep in mind that generally, the lower your credit score, the higher your interest rate will be, which may impact how much house you can afford.
FHA loans are restricted to a maximum loan size depending on the location of the property. Additionally, FHA loans require an upfront mortgage insurance premium to be paid as part of closing costs as well as an annual mortgage insurance premium included in your monthly mortgage payment — both of which may impact your affordability.
Veterans and active military may qualify for a VA loan, if certain criteria is met. While VA loans require a single upfront funding fee as part of the closing costs, the loan program offers attractive and flexible loan benefits, such as no private mortgage insurance (PMI) premiums and no down payment requirements. VA loan benefits are what make house affordability possible for those who might otherwise not be able to afford a mortgage.
With VA loans, your monthly mortgage payment and recurring monthly debt combined should not exceed 41%. So if you make $3,000 a month ($36,000 a year), you can afford a house with monthly payments around $1,230 ($3,000 x 0.41).
Use our VA home loan calculator to estimate how expensive of a house you can afford.
An affordability calculator is a great first step to determine how much house you can afford, but ultimately you have the final say in what you’re comfortable spending on your next home. When deciding how much to spend on a house, take into consideration your monthly spending habits and personal savings goals. You want to have some cash reserved in your savings account after purchasing a home. Typically, a cash reserve should include three month’s worth of house payments and enough money to cover other monthly debts. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to start planning out your housing budget:
- How much money do I want to save each month for retirement or travel?
- Do I have enough saved for closing costs or unexpected expenses?
- How much can I put toward a down payment without emptying my savings account?
- What is my total monthly debt?
- Low down payment mortgages
Looking for a low down payment home loan? Here’s a look at home loan options that allow for down payments of 3.5% or less.
- How to qualify for a mortgage
When you apply for a loan, a lender will scrutinize your financial situation to make sure you qualify. Here’s what they’re looking for.
- Buying with bad credit
If you have bad credit and fear you’ll be denied for a mortgage, don’t worry. You may still be able to get a loan with a low credit score.