Conservative Mortgage Calculator: How much home can you really afford?

I built this calculator to be more realistic than the calculators that you see on home selling websites. Those calculators may give you the false impression that you can afford way more house than you actually can comfortably.

How much do you want to spend per month?
$

Annual Mortgage Interest Rate (3-5%)
%
Down Payment
$
Credit Score for PMI (if applicable)
Monthly HOA Fees
$
Annual Home Insurance
$
Annual Property Tax % (1-3%)
%
Market Price vs Tax Assement Value %
%
Annual Maintenance % of Home Cost (1-3%)
%
Closing Costs % (2-5%)
%

Instructions and Notes

Enter in how much you want to spend on housing per month to calculate the costs of a mortgage plus many other costs that home owners are responsible for such as maintenance, property taxes, and home owner association (HOA) fees. Depending on your downpayment and other factors, your monthly mortgage may only be 50% of your total housing related costs, so this calculator will help you to proactively budget for those other expenses.

If there is a cost that doesn't apply in your situation, just put a zero in the field or leave the default and adjust from there. The credit score field is only used to calculate PMI, if that is applicable. All these numbers are estimates, so that you can ball-park a house that will fit into your targeted housing budget.


Housing Cost Results

A house of $109,900 fits in your budget with a mortgage of $99,900 for a monthly cost of $987. You will need to pay up-front costs of $13,297 to cover the downpayment and closing costs. You may also be able to deduct property taxes, mortgage interest, and insurance costs from your Federal and/or State taxes. If you have PMI, this cost will go away once you have around 20% equity in your home.

Scroll up to enter changes to your budget.

Click or hover over the pie chart to see the component values.
ExpenseMonthly Cost ($)
Mortgage$463
Property Tax$137
Insurance$67
PMI$83
HOA Fee$100
Maintenance$137
Monthly Total Expenses: $987

Explanation of Costs

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calculator

Mortgage: Your mortgage costs are what most people think of when they’re looking to buy a house. The monthly cost includes your interest payments and principle payments. This is generally the largest component of your housing costs until you pay off your mortgage. You can see the current average mortgage rates at Freddie Mac’s¬†historical rate tracker.

Property Tax: These include city, county, and school taxes that are levied on your home every year. Some of the calculations won’t be terribly transparent, because the values that the government uses are typically different than your purchased price. This can help and hurt you depending if they under or over-valued your home.

Insurance: Homeowners insurance is usually typically fairly reasonable, but if you are planning to move to an area that is prone to floods, hurricanes, or earthquakes, look into if there are any other special kinds of insurance that you need to get to be adequately protected.

PMI: If you do not have enough to pay 20% of your home’s cost in the down-payment, you will probably have to pay for PMI which is a kind of insurance against default. You will only need to pay PMI until you own 20% of the equity in your home. The calculator has a built-in number to give you a ball-park figure for how much you should expect it to come out to when you meet with your loan officer. You can find more information at the MGIC.

HOA Fees: These are monthly fees that neighborhood associations or condo associations charge for communal spaces such as parks or building maintenance. Some HOA fees can be surprisingly expensive, especially if you are purchasing a condo unit.

Maintenance: This value is set to 1.5% of your home value so that you budget to save a fund for any unexpected housing expenses and normal maintenance. These events include appliance failure, damages to your home not covered by insurance, replacement for normal wear and tear (carpets, flooring, painting), etc. If you are buying an older home that hasn’t been updated recently, you may want to increase this budget so that you can plan for those expenses. Not properly maintaining your home may cause it to lose value the longer you put off repairs or updates.