When my husband and I bought our first home we were pre-approved for an amount that was considerably more than we wanted to spend on housing. We decided that we did not want to spend more than 25% of our monthly take home pay on housing. We were pre-approved for an amount closer to 35% of our combined monthly income.
We are sure we made the right decision even though it meant that we raised our children in a smaller home. They both turned our just fine. We have owned the same home for 25 years and during that time our incomes have gone up and down but we have never had to struggle to make the mortgage payment.
Before buying your first home consider what percentage of your income you want to spend on housing. Keep in mind that in addition principle and interest on the mortgage most home owners have property taxes and home owners insurance. When buying a condo or townhouse add in association dues. Also consider the cost of transportation if the home is far from jobs or in an area that isn’t walkable.
Stick with your budget when house hunting. Decide how much you want to spend before talking to a lender. If you can not find the style of home you would like in your preferred neighborhood that is in your price range either change your criteria, or hold off on buying a home until your income goes up.