Understanding Home Affordability

written by JoseD

3 key factors affecting your home affordability


Buying a home is a monumental step, and securing the right mortgage financing is crucial. The affordability of your dream home hinges on several key factors that lenders scrutinize before granting a mortgage. In this article, we’ll dive into the three most critical elements: your income, credit score, and debt-to-income ratio (DTI). Understanding these factors will help you navigate the mortgage process and boost your chances of getting approved for a loan that fits your budget.

Factor 1: Income

Understanding Gross vs. Net Income

When lenders assess your income, they look at both gross and net figures. Gross income is your total earnings before any deductions, like taxes or retirement contributions. Net income, on the other hand, is what you actually take home. Lenders often prefer gross income as it paints a fuller picture of your financial capacity. However, understanding your net income helps you gauge what you can realistically afford in monthly mortgage payments.

How Lenders Assess Your Income

Lenders don’t just glance at your paycheck and call it a day. They delve deep into your employment history, consistency of income, and potential for future earnings. They might ask for pay stubs, tax returns, and employment verification letters. Self-employed individuals may need to provide additional documentation, like profit and loss statements, to prove their income stability.

 Tips to Improve Income Perception

  • Stabilize Your Employment: Lenders favor steady employment over job-hopping.
  • Increase Your Earnings: Consider asking for a raise or taking on a side hustle.
  • Document Everything: Keep thorough records of all your income sources.

Factor 2: Credit Score


 What is a Credit Score?

Your credit score is a numerical representation of your creditworthiness, ranging from 300 to 850. It’s a crucial factor that lenders use to assess the risk of lending you money. The higher your score, the better your chances of securing a favorable mortgage rate.

 How Your Credit Score is Calculated

Several components go into calculating your credit score:

  • Payment History: Do you pay your bills on time?
  • Credit Utilization: How much of your available credit are you using?
  • Length of Credit History: How long have you been using credit?
  • New Credit: Have you recently opened multiple new credit accounts?
  • Credit Mix: Do you have a healthy mix of credit types (e.g., credit cards, car loans)?

 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score

  • Pay Bills Promptly: Never miss a payment.
  • Reduce Debt: Pay down high credit card balances.
  • Avoid New Credit Inquiries: Limit the number of new accounts you open.
  • Check for Errors: Regularly review your credit report for mistakes and dispute any inaccuracies.

Factor 3: Debt Service Ratios


Defining Debt Service Ratios

Mortgage professionals use 2 main ratios to decide if borrowers can afford to buy a home: Gross Debt Service (GDS) and Total Debt Service (TDS). This calculator will give you both.

GDS is the percentage of your monthly household income that covers your housing costs. It must not exceed 39%.

TDS is the percentage of your monthly household income that covers your housing costs and any other debts. It must not exceed 44%.

Reducing Your DSR

  • Pay Off Debts: Focus on clearing high-interest debts first.
  • Increase Income: Additional income can help improve your DSR.
  • Avoid New Debt: Refrain from taking on new loans or credit cards before applying for a mortgage.
Understanding Mortgage Financing - Jose Delgado

The Interplay of These Factors

How Income, Credit, and DSR Work Together

Lenders consider all these factors collectively to assess your overall financial health. High income can sometimes offset a lower credit score, and a stellar credit score can make lenders more lenient with a higher DSR. However, excelling in all three areas will significantly improve your chances of securing a mortgage.

Real-Life Scenarios

Imagine you’re earning a decent salary, but your credit score is just average. By paying down debt and avoiding new credit inquiries, you can boost your credit score and present a more attractive profile to lenders. Alternatively, if your income is modest, ensuring a low DSR and a high credit score can still make you a strong mortgage candidate.


Understanding and optimizing these three key factors—income, credit score, and debtService ratio, can significantly impact your ability to afford a home. By taking proactive steps to stabilize your income, improve your credit score, and manage your debts, you can enhance your chances of securing favorable mortgage financing. Remember, it’s not just about meeting lender criteria; it’s about ensuring you can comfortably afford your new home without financial strain.

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  • What is the minimum credit score needed to qualify for a mortgage?

Most lenders prefer a credit score of at least 620 for conventional loans, but higher scores can secure better rates.

  •  How can I improve my chances of getting a mortgage if I’m self-employed?

Maintain detailed financial records, ensure consistent income, and possibly work with a lender experienced with self-employed borrowers.

  •  What debts are included in the DSR calculation?

Monthly obligations like credit card payments, car loans, student loans, and any existing mortgage or rent payments are included.

  • Can a high income offset a high DS ratio?

While high income helps, a high DSR can still be a red flag. It’s best to manage debts effectively alongside maintaining a strong income.

  •  How long before applying for a mortgage should I start improving my credit score?

Aim to start at least six months to a year before applying, as significant changes to your credit score take time.

 To learn more about how much house you can afford, call us today.

Jose Delgado

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