Los Angeles County Home Mortgage Loans

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Homeownership 101

A home is the most expensive purchase most of us will ever make. Here, we’ll examine the basics of homeownership. If you’ve decided you want to own a home, we’ll show you how to calculate how much you can afford to spend.

Mortgage lenders are primarily concerned with your ability to repay the loan. They’ll consider your credit history, your monthly gross income and how much cash you’ll be able to accumulate for a down payment. So how much house can you afford? To know that, you need to understand a concept called “debt-to-income ratios.”

The standard debt-to-income ratios are The housing expense and the total debt-to-income. Or more simply put, the front-end ratio to back-end ratio.

Front-end Ratio:

The housing expense, or front-end ratio, shows how much of your gross (pretax) monthly income would go toward the mortgage payment. As a general guideline, your monthly mortgage payment, including principal, interest, real estate taxes and homeowners insurance, should not exceed 28 percent of your gross monthly income. To calculate your housing expense, multiply your annual salary by 0.28, then divide by 12 (months). The answer is your maximum housing expense.

BackEnd Ratio:

The total debt-to-income, or back-end ratio, shows how much of your gross income would go toward all of your debt obligations, including mortgage, car loans, child support and alimony, credit card bills, student loans and condominium fees. In general, your total monthly debt obligation should not exceed 36 percent of your gross income. To calculate your debt-to-income ratio, multiply your annual salary by 0.36, then divide by 12 (months). The answer is your maximum allowable debt-to-income ratio.

As an example:

Take a home buyer who makes $40,000 a year. The maximum amount for monthly mortgage-related payments at 28 percent of gross income would be $933. ($40,000 times 0.28 equals $11,200, and $11,200 divided by 12 months equals $933.33.)

Furthermore, the lender says the total debt payments each month should not exceed 36 percent, which comes to $1,200. ($40,000 times 0.36 equals $14,400, and $14,400 divided by 12 months equals $1,200.)