Step 1: What can I afford?
March 26, 2019

First things first: it's time to review your financial picture, consider the expenses involved in owning property, and determine your budget. Can you afford to buy a home? Let's find out.

Am I ready?

All first-time homebuyers should take a careful look at their personal finances. Be sure you have a strong grasp on your income, debts, credit and savings before you determine your homebuying budget.

The Costs of Homeownership

As a renter, you do not have to pay for a variety of regular and as-needed expenses that are covered by the landlord. When you buy a home, these new costs become your responsibility. Some fees are part of your monthly mortgage payment while others are not. Among the costs shouldered by homeowners but not by renters:

  • Property taxes and special assessments
  • Home/hazard insurance
  • Property maintenance
  • Association and membership fees (for condominiums, townhomes and some developments)

Credit and Credit Histories

Your credit history—how you've borrowed and repaid money in the past—plays a big role in your ability to purchase a home. It's one factor used to determine your credit score, generally called a FICO score. FICO scores range from 300 to 850, and lenders believe that borrowers with higher scores are more likely to repay their loan.

Down Payments

The down payment is the initial payment made when buying a home. The amount of your down payment will impact your ability to get a mortgage as well as the loan’s interest rate and terms. Lenders view buyers who contribute their own funds to the purchase of a home as a better overall credit risk.

If you're making a down payment of less than 20% of a home's price, you may need mortgage insurance, which banks require in exchange for the larger loan. MassHousing mortgage insurance includes MI Plus, a unique borrower protection that covers principal and interest payments if you lose your job.

Questions About What You Can Afford?

Do you have questions about the financial aspects of homeownership? You’re not alone. Visit our common questions and answers.