It’s hardly a secret that home prices and mortgage rates have been elevated for quite some time. That’s put a lot of strain on home buyers — and has forced many people to sit out the market and wait for home values and borrowing rates to come down.
Meanwhile, in February, the national median mortgage payment was $2,061, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. That’s a notable uptick from the median mortgage payment of $1,964 in January.
February’s median mortgage payment is also up $408 from a year prior, which is the equivalent of an almost 25% increase. And that goes to show how higher mortgage rates are impacting borrowers today.
You may be looking to buy a home that will come with a monthly mortgage payment around $2,061. Or your monthly payment might be a lot lower or a lot higher.
The fact that the median monthly mortgage payment is $2,061 shouldn’t really impact your home-buying plans too much. That’s because it doesn’t matter what the typical homeowner is paying. What matters more is what you can afford to pay.
As a general rule, your predictable housing costs, including your mortgage payments, homeowners insurance, property taxes, and HOA fees (if they apply in your case) should not exceed 30% of your take-home pay. Going beyond that limit might constitute a real financial strain and put you at risk of falling behind on your housing payments or other bills. But if you stick to that limit, you may be okay to take on a mortgage payment that’s higher than the national median.
So, let’s say your monthly paycheck amounts to $7,000 after taxes and other deductions. That leaves you with $2,100 a month to spend on housing. In that situation, it’s fair to say that a monthly mortgage payment of $2,061 will not work for you. That’s because your property taxes and homeowners insurance costs are clearly going to be more than $39 a month.
However, if your paycheck amounts to $8,000 a month, that leaves you with $2,400 a month to spend on housing. It’s conceivable that a $2,061 mortgage payment might work for you if you’re buying in an area where property taxes are fairly low and homeowners insurance premiums are reasonable.
It’s easy to look at the median mortgage payment and use it as a basis for the type of home you should be buying. But rather than go that route, run your own numbers to make sure you’re not getting in over your head on a home purchase.
Even if you can technically swing housing costs that exceed 30% of your take-home pay, doing so might mean having to limit your spending on things like leisure, travel, and other luxuries that make life enjoyable. And the last thing you want is to regret your decision to buy a home because it forces you to cut back in pretty much every other area.
This article was written by Maurie Backman from The Motley Fool and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.