A general rule is that you usually can qualify for a mortgage loan of two to two and one-half times your household's income. For example, if your family has an income of $30,000 a year, you can usually qualify for a mortgage of $60,000 to $75,000.
Lenders use many other factors to determine how large a mortgage they will give you. For example, lenders generally prefer that your housing expenses (including mortgage payments, insurance, taxes, and special assessments) not exceed 25 to 28 percent of your gross monthly income. Other long-term debt (monthly payments extending more than 10 months) added to your housing expenses should not exceed 33 to 36 percent of your gross monthly income. Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) mortgage loan percentages may vary.
In addition, lenders want to know about your employment and credit history. This includes finding out about your job and income and how well you handled and repaid loans in the past. Legal safeguards exist to ensure this information is used fairly. For example, the Fair Credit Reporting Act states that lenders must certify to the credit bureau the purpose for which this information is sought and that it will be used for no other purpose. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits discrimination in lending based on sex, marital status, race, national origin, religion, age, or because someone receives public assistance.
Source: Federal Trade Commission
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