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How Much House Can I Afford?


Home CalculatorBeing able to buy a house remains a big part of the American dream. For many of us, it can signal we’ve arrived into adulthood or achieved a significant life goal. But despite how thrilling the prospect of homeownership may be, the actual process of financially preparing to buy a home can be seriously daunting.

If you’re in the market to buy a home, you might be wondering, “How much house can I afford?” Perhaps you have a general idea of how much you’d like to spend, but the excitement and emotions of house hunting can make you forget about the math. “It’s very easy to start to run away from what you can actually afford,” says Zillow economist Jeff Tucker. “Go into that process with a clear idea of your budget.”

To that end, it’s also important to have a good understanding of the home buying process before you set out on the journey.

Throughout the home buying process, prepare to meet and work with professionals such as:

  • Real Estate Agents (Buyers and Sellers)
  • Home Inspectors
  • Bankers and Mortgage Brokers
  • Insurance Agents
  • Attorneys
  • Contractors

You’ll also need to plan and budget to be able to get a relatively close estimate of how much house you can actually afford. And that might entail prioritizing other needs, like paying down student loans and taking family vacations. So, before you even start house hunting, write down your priorities.

Establish Your Priorities

When you do start looking at properties, keep in mind that you will most likely be looking at previously-owned homes and that your choices will be limited to what is available in the real estate market. You’ll probably have to compromise on some of the features you would ideally like to have in your new home. “Knowing what you don’t want can be just as valuable as knowing what you do want,” says Keith Gumbinger, Vice President of, an online consumer’s mortgage resource. “Develop a sense of what you’re willing to compromise on.” By doing so, you avoid being dissatisfied with the result.