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8 min read May 29, 2023

Percentage of Income for Mortgage: Know How to Budget for Housing

While buying a home you need to be clear on how much of your income you’re willing to put into mortgage payment.

The general rule of thumb is that your monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 28% of your gross monthly income. This means that if you make $5,000 per month, your mortgage payment should be no more than $1,400 per month.

It’s important to keep in mind that this percentage is just a guideline and may differ based on your personal financial situation.

What Does A Mortgage Payment Include?

A mortgage payment includes several components to cover the costs associated with homeownership. Below are some of the common components of a mortgage payment:

  1. Principal: This portion of the payment goes towards reducing the outstanding balance of the loan. Over time, as you make mortgage payments, the principal amount decreases, building equity in your home.
  2. Interest: Interest is the mortgage lender’s fee for borrowing the money. It is typically based on the percentage rate specified in the mortgage agreement. In the early years of a mortgage, a larger portion of the payment goes towards interest and gradually decreases.
  3. Property Taxes: Property taxes are levied by local governments to fund public services such as schools, roads, and municipal services. Lenders often require homeowners to contribute a portion of their property tax bill in an escrow account.
  4. Homeowners Insurance: Lenders generally require borrowers to carry homeowners insurance to protect the property against any damage. The cost of the insurance premium is typically a part of the mortgage payment.
  5. Mortgage Insurance: Lenders typically require private mortgage insurance (PMI) or mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) if the down payment is less than 20% of the mortgage. Mortgage insurance protects the lender in case the borrower defaults on the loan.

It’s advisable to carefully review the terms of your mortgage agreement to understand the exact components of your mortgage payment.

How Much Of Your Monthly Income Should Go To Mortgage?

As mentioned earlier, a general guideline is that your monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 28% of your gross monthly income. But this is just a rule of thumb, and there are other factors to consider.

It’s important to evaluate all of these factors to determine a comfortable mortgage payment amount that won’t cause financial stress in the long run.

Front-End Ratio

It is also known as the “housing ratio” or “mortgage-to-income ratio.”

Lenders use the Front-End Ratio to evaluate the borrower’s ability. The ratio divides the borrower’s gross monthly income by their total monthly housing expenses. This evaluation helps lenders assess the borrower’s capacity to manage their monthly housing costs within their overall revenue.

Back-End Ratio

The “Back-End Ratio,” is also known as the “Total Debt-to-Income Ratio” or simply “Debt Ratio,”. It is another financial metric lenders use to evaluate a borrower’s financial capacity to manage debt, including housing expenses and other recurring monthly debts.

Percentage Of Income Rules And Guidelines

Percentage of Income Rules and Guidelines are used to determine how much income should be allocated for a mortgage. Here are a few common percentage-based guidelines:

  1. Housing Expenses: Many financial experts recommend that individuals spend no more than 30% of their gross monthly income on housing expenses, including mortgage or rent, property taxes, homeowners insurance, and utilities. This guideline is often referred to as the “30% rule.”
  2. Debt Payments: The total amount allocated to debt payments, including credit card bills, student loans, auto loans, and personal loans, should typically not exceed 36% to 43% of a person’s gross monthly income. This is often known as the “Debt-to-Income Ratio” or the “43% rule.”
  3. Savings and Retirement: Financial advisors commonly suggest that individuals save and invest at least 10% to 20% of their gross monthly income towards long-term financial goals, such as retirement savings. This guideline helps ensure individuals are building a financial safety net for the future.
  4. Discretionary Expenses: This includes non-essential expenses like entertainment, dining out, etc should be limited. Many experts recommend allocating around 20% to discretionary expenses.

The 28/36% Rule

The 28/36% Rule is a common guideline used by lenders to assess a borrower’s eligibility for a mortgage loan.

According to this rule, the borrower’s total housing expenses should not exceed 28% of their gross monthly income. Additionally, total monthly debt payments should not exceed 36% of their gross monthly income.

These ratios provide a general framework to determine a borrower’s ability to manage their housing costs.

The 35%/45% Rule

The 35%/45% Rule is another common guideline used by lenders to evaluate a borrower’s mortgage eligibility.

According to this rule, the borrower’s total housing expenses, should not exceed 35% of their gross monthly income. Furthermore, their total monthly debt payments should not exceed 45% of their gross monthly income.

These ratios provide a general framework to assess borrowers’ ability to manage their housing costs. While lenders may have some flexibility in accepting borrowers with slightly higher ratios based on other factors, adhering to the 35%/45% Rule generally helps ensure affordability and financial stability.

The 25% Rule

The 25% Rule is a guideline used to determine an appropriate amount to allocate toward housing expenses. According to this rule, individuals should aim to spend no more than 25% of their gross monthly income including housing costs.

Adhering to this rule can help individuals maintain a balanced budget and ensure that housing costs remain affordable. It’s advisable to carefully consider individual financial situations and priorities when determining an appropriate housing expense allocation.

What Do Lenders Look At To Determine Your Home Affordability?

Lenders consider several factors to determine your home’s affordability for a mortgage. Here are some key aspects that lenders typically look at:

  1. Income and Employment History: Lenders examine your income level, and employment history to gauge your ability to make mortgage payments. They review your employment status, and income consistency, and may request documents such as pay stubs, or tax returns.
  2. Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI): Lenders calculate your DTI by comparing your monthly debt payments including housing expenses to your gross monthly income. They prefer borrowers to have a lower DTI, typically aiming for a maximum of around 43%.
  3. Credit History and Credit Score: Lenders assess your creditworthiness by reviewing your credit history and credit score. They examine factors such as payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, and any negative information if any. A higher credit score indicates a stronger credit profile, which can lead to better loan terms.
  4. Down Payment and Loan-to-Value Ratio (LTV): Lenders consider the amount of money you can put towards a down payment. A larger down payment reduces the loan amount and lowers the LTV ratio, which measures the loan amount compared to the appraised value of the property. A lower LTV ratio may improve your chances of loan approval.
  5. Cash Reserves and Financial Stability: Lenders may evaluate your financial reserves, including savings or investment accounts. Having cash reserve shows that you have the ability to handle unforeseen expenses. Lenders generally prefer borrowers who demonstrate financial stability.
  6. Property Appraisal: Lenders require a professional appraisal to determine the value of the property you want to purchase. The appraisal helps ensure that the loan amount aligns with the property’s worth and protects the lender’s investment.

It’s important to note that different lenders may have varying requirements and loan programs may have specific eligibility criteria.

How To Lower Monthly Payments

Lowering your monthly payments can provide financial relief and increase your cash flow. Here are several strategies you can consider to achieve that goal:

Improve Your Credit Score

Improving your credit score includes a positive credit history and responsible financial behavior. This can include making on-time payments, keeping credit card balances low, diversifying your credit mix, etc,. By consistently practicing good credit habits, you can boost your credit score over time and gain access to better loan terms and financial opportunities.

Make A Larger Down Payment

Making a larger down payment when purchasing a home involves putting more money upfront towards the purchase price. It helps to reduce the loan amount, potentially resulting in lower monthly mortgage payments.

Also, it can help you secure better loan terms, such as a lower interest rate or avoiding private mortgage insurance (PMI). Additionally, a larger down payment demonstrates financial stability to lenders and may increase your chances of loan approval.

Change Your Loan Term

Changing your loan term refers to modifying the duration of your loan repayment. For example, you may choose to refinance your mortgage from a 30-year term to a 15-year term. Shortening the loan term typically leads to higher monthly payments but allows you to pay off the loan faster.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the percentage of income in mortgage guidelines provides a general framework for lenders to know the borrower’s affordability for a mortgage loan. These guidelines consider the borrower’s income, debts, and housing expenses to determine a threshold for mortgage payments.

Consulting with lenders or mortgage professionals can provide more personalized guidance based on your specific needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What percentage of income should go to mortgage?

As per the general thumb rule your monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 28% of your gross monthly income. This means that if you make $5,000 per month, your mortgage payment should be no more than $1,400 per month.

2. What is a healthy mortgage to income ratio?

A healthy mortgage-to-income ratio is generally considered to be around 28% to 36%, where your monthly mortgage payment is no more than 28% to 36% of your gross monthly income.


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