I Make $45,000 a Year, How Much House Can I Afford?

On a salary of $45,000 per year, you can afford a house priced at around $120,000 with a monthly payment of $1,050 for a conventional home loan — that is, if you have no debt and can make a down payment. This number assumes a 6% interest rate.

These numbers change—sometimes dramatically—depending on a few factors, including:

•   How much debt you have

•   What your down payment is

•   How much you’re paying for taxes, insurance, and homeowners association dues, if anything

•   What interest rate is available to you

•   What type of loan you get

With the median home price in the U.S. topping $400,000, you might be wondering how everyone else affords a home in your neighborhood. We’ll cover every aspect of home affordability for a $45,000 salary to help you work toward getting the home you’ve always wanted.


💡 Quick Tip: A VA loan can make home buying simple for qualified borrowers. Because the VA guarantees a portion of the loan, you could skip a down payment. Plus, you could qualify for lower interest rates, enjoy lower closing costs, and even bypass mortgage insurance.†

What Kind of House Can I Afford With $45K a Year?

The kind of home you can afford depends on more than your $45,000 salary. It’s also based on your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, interest rate, down payment, type of home loan, and lender.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


Understanding Debt-to-income Ratio

Your DTI ratio is a key factor in determining how much home you can afford. The more debt you have, the lower your housing payment needs to be. This directly translates into a lower priced home. So, what exactly is a DTI ratio? It is the proportion of monthly debt you need to repay in relation to your gross monthly income.

For example, if your total debt amounts are $2,000 each month and your income is $6,000 per month, your debt-to-income ratio would be 33%. This falls under the 36% threshold mortgage lenders look for with conventional home mortgage loans.

However, keep in mind that the $2,000 has to include your new mortgage payment. If your debts cost $500 each month, your monthly mortgage payment cannot be more than $1,500.

How to Factor in Your Down Payment

Your down payment also plays a significant factor in home affordability. Generally, the higher down payment you have, the more home you can afford. If you purchase a home far below what you can afford, your monthly payment will be much lower.

If you make a down payment of 20% or more, you’ll also be able to save on mortgage insurance premiums, which are typically required on most loan types for homes purchased with a down payment lower than 20%.

If you play around with a mortgage calculator, you can see how a larger down payment can affect your monthly payment and home price.

Factors That Affect Home Affordability

Beyond your debt, income, and down payment, there are a number of other factors that go into home affordability. These include:

•   Interest rates The interest rate you have on your home dramatically impacts how much home you can afford. When interest rates are high, your monthly payment is higher. When interest rates are down, you pay less interest on your loan, which means you can afford a more costly home. Remember that if rates drop significantly a mortgage refinance is always an option.

•   Credit history and score The interest rate that you’ll qualify for is dependent on your credit score and history. A better credit score will qualify you for the best interest rates, which means your monthly payment will be lower, which can increase your buying power.

•   Taxes and insurance Taxes and insurance factor into your home’s monthly payment. They will be calculated into the home’s PITI (payment, interest, taxes, insurance) and included as part of your monthly debts.

•   Loan type The type of loan you get affects home affordability. This is due to the different interest rates and down payment options available to specific loan types. VA loans from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, for example, come with a lower interest rate and don’t require a down payment.

•   Lender Lenders may have discretion to increase the allowable debt-to-income ratio. Some can go as high as 50%.

•   Location Some areas are more affordable than others. Thinking about moving? Take a look at a list of the best affordable places to live in the U.S.

Recommended: The Cost of Living By State

How to Afford More House With Down Payment Assistance

One of the best tools for increasing home affordability is with down payment assistance programs. These programs provide funds for the down payment (and sometimes closing costs) to help make homes more affordable for buyers.

Some programs offer down payment assistance in the form of a grant that does not need to be repaid, while others finance a second mortgage which may need to be paid when the home is sold (but sometimes is forgiven earlier). In Colorado, for example, there’s the CHFA Colorado Down Payment Assistance Grant. Virginia offers the Virginia HOMEownership Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance program (DPA)

Search your state, county, and city to see what programs are offered for your area. You may also want to read tips to qualify for a mortgage.

How to Calculate How Much House You Can Afford

Calculating how much house you can afford is smart, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer and making early plans to buy a home. There are some guidelines lenders use to qualify borrowers for a mortgage, including:

The 28/36 Rule: This guideline states that no more than 28% of your income should go to your monthly housing payment and your debt-to-income ratio should be no more than 36% of your income

When calculating DTI (also known as the back-end ratio), your lender will add all of your debts (including the new mortgage payment) to make sure all debts will fall under 36% of your income amount. If your monthly income is $3,750 ($45,000/12 = $3,750), your debts (including the mortgage payment) should be no more than $1,350 ($3,750*.36).

Lenders will also calculate the front-end ratio, which should be no more than 28% or your income. With a monthly income of $3,750, this number works out to $1,050.

The 35/45 Rule: Some lenders may go by the 35/45 guideline, which allows for a housing payment up to 35% of income and 45% of total DTI ratio. This expanded allowance is up to the lender, but may allow for qualification of higher purchase amount and payment.

With a monthly income of $3,750, the housing allowance (35% of your income) increases to $1,312.50 and the total monthly debts (45% of your income) increases to $1,687.50. An easier way to calculate how much home you can afford is with a home affordability calculator.

Home Affordability Examples

Let’s take a look at two examples of homebuyers with $45,000 incomes in differing scenarios. All assume the same taxes ($2,500), insurance ($1,000), and APR (6%) for a 30-year loan term (just for illustrative purposes).

The $45,000 annual salary is divided by 12 to get a $3,750 monthly income and the maximum DTI ratio works out to be $1,350 ($3,750 * .36).

Example #1: $45,000 income but lots of debt
Monthly credit card debt: $300
Monthly car payment: $350
Student loan payment: $300
Total debt = $950 total debt payments

Down payment = $20,000
Maximum DTI ratio = $3,750 * .36 = $1,350
Maximum mortgage payment = $400 ($1,350 – $950)

Home budget = $38,069

Even with a $20,000 down payment, it could be hard to buy a home in this scenario.

Example #2: $45,000 income with little debt
Monthly credit card debt: $50
Monthly car payment: $0
Student loan payment: $0
Total debt = $50

Down payment: $20,000
Maximum DTI ratio = $3,750 * .36 = $1,350
Maximum mortgage payment = $1,300 ($1,350 – $50)

Home budget = $171,925



💡 Quick Tip: Don’t have a lot of cash on hand for a down payment? The minimum down payment for an FHA mortgage loan is as low as 3.5%.1

How Your Monthly Payment Affects Your Price Range

The monthly payment you qualify for affects the total price you can pay for a home. If monthly debts are too high, for example, you’ll likely qualify for a lower-priced home. The monthly payment is also affected by interest rates. Because interest is amortized over 30 years (on a 30-year mortgage), the amount of interest you pay is significant, even if you manage to score a lower rate.

Recommended: Home Loan Help Center

Types of Home Loans Available to $45K Households

When you’re looking for home loans, you’ll see these different types of mortgage loans available:

•   FHA loans Loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration are geared toward buyers with low down payments, low credit scores, and other situations that require a lender to be more flexible.

•   USDA loans United States Department of Agriculture loans are for those who live in rural areas. They offer zero down payment options and low interest rates.

•   Conventional loans Conventional loans are loans that are not part of a government program, but they are backed by government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They’re usually less expensive than FHA loans, but your application does need to meet certain guidelines to qualify for conventional financing.

•   VA loans VA loans offer zero down payment options, the lowest interest rates on the market, and flexible credit requirements. If you qualify for a VA loan, you’ll likely want to go with this option.

The Takeaway

There’s no way around it — affording a home in today’s housing market is tough. If your $45,000 salary is all you have access to, you’ll need to save, improve your credit, research down payment assistance programs, enlist a partner, move to a less expensive area, or find other creative ways to afford a home. But don’t give up. It can be done. Your hard work will pay off with a mortgage for a home of your own soon.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

Is $45K a good salary for a single person?

A $45,000 salary for a single person is a good start. How good it feels to earn $45,000 will depend on the cost of living where you live and the friends and neighbors you’re surrounded by.

What is a comfortable income for a single person?

A comfortable income for a single person depends on your lifestyle and habits. The median income for a single person is $56,929, according to data from the U.S. Census. A single person in Cobb County, Georgia, would be able to cover their expenses for about $40,000 per year while the same person in New York City would need $53,342.

What is a liveable wage in 2023?

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Calculator takes into account your area, working household members, and number of children. For example, a single living in San Francisco has a living wage of $26.63. A household with three children where only one spouse works in St. George, Utah has a living wage of $44.99 per hour.

What salary is considered rich for a single person?

To be in the top 5% of earners, you would need a salary north of $234,342.


Photo credit: iStock/500

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

¹FHA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by FHA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. FHA loans require an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP), which may be financed or paid at closing, in addition to monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP). Maximum loan amounts vary by county. The minimum FHA mortgage down payment is 3.5% for those who qualify financially for a primary purchase. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
Veterans, Service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserve may be eligible for a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by VA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. VA loans typically require a one-time funding fee except as may be exempted by VA guidelines. The fee may be financed or paid at closing. The amount of the fee depends on the type of loan, the total amount of the loan, and, depending on loan type, prior use of VA eligibility and down payment amount. The VA funding fee is typically non-refundable. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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I Make $200,000 a Year, How Much House Can I Afford?

An income of $200,000 a year puts you in a good position to afford a home priced at $600,000. But whether you should aim higher or lower than this in your house hunt will depend on your debt, how much you’ve saved for a down payment, and current interest rates, among other factors. Read on for a breakdown of the variables that could affect how much of a mortgage you can manage.

What Kind of House Can I Afford with $200,000 a Year?

Not so very long ago, if you’d asked someone: “If I make $200,000 a year, how much house can I afford?” they probably would have said, “A mansion!” Of course, that isn’t necessarily true anymore. But that income still can get you a pretty sweet home in most places.

You can get an idea of how much house you can afford on a $200,000 income by using an online mortgage calculator or by prequalifying with one or more lenders for a home mortgage loan. Or you can run the numbers yourself using a calculation like the 28/36 rule, which says your mortgage payment shouldn’t be more than 28% of your monthly gross income, and your total monthly debt — including your mortgage payment — shouldn’t be more than 36% of your income. Let’s take a closer look at what could affect how much you can borrow and what your payments might be.


💡 Quick Tip: Not to be confused with prequalification, preapproval involves a longer application, documentation, and hard credit pulls. Ideally, you want to keep your applications for preapproval to within the same 14- to 45-day period, since many hard credit pulls outside the given time period can adversely affect your credit score, which in turn affects the mortgage terms you’ll be offered.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


Understanding Debt-to-Income Ratio

You can expect lenders to look carefully at your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) — the second number in the 28/36 rule — when they’re deciding how much mortgage you can afford. It tells them how you’re handling the debt you already have and if you can manage more.

Your DTI ratio is calculated by dividing your total monthly debt payments by your monthly gross income. Mortgage lenders generally look for a DTI ratio of 36% or less; but depending on the lender and the type of home loan you’re hoping to get, you may be able to qualify with a DTI up to 43% or even 50%.

Typically, the lower your risk, the better your borrowing options. So if you want the best loan amount, rate, and terms, you’ll want to keep an eye on this number.

Your Down Payment Also Can Affect Costs

You may not need a hefty down payment to qualify for some home loans. But the more you can comfortably put down on a house, the less you’ll have to borrow, which can help lower your monthly payments. And if you put down at least 20%, you can avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI), which will further reduce your payments.

Other Factors that Can Affect Home Affordability

Your income, debt, and down payment are all primary factors in determining how much house you can afford. But there are other things that also can affect your ability to qualify for a mortgage that’s manageable, including:

Interest Rates

A lower mortgage interest rate can significantly lower your monthly payment — and the amount you’ll pay for your home over time. While interest rates are relatively consistent across the market, lenders do compete for customers, so you may benefit from shopping around. You also can help your chances of qualifying for a better rate by making sure your finances are in good shape and you have a solid credit score.

Loan Term

The most common mortgage term is 30 years, but different loan lengths are available depending on the type of mortgage you choose — and each has pros and cons. If you’re deciding between a 15-year vs. a 30-year mortgage, for example, the shorter term may offer a less expensive interest rate, which could save you money over the life of your loan. But the 30-year term will likely have lower monthly payments, which may be a better fit for your budget.

Homeowners Insurance

Understanding how to buy homeowners insurance and comparing the policies available may help you minimize this expense. Lenders require borrowers to have an adequate amount of homeowners insurance, and if you live in a state that’s considered “high risk,” the cost of coverage could be significant.

HOA Fees

If you’re buying in a community with lots of amenities, homeowners association (HOA) dues could add a substantial amount to your monthly home costs. (The monthly average is about $250, but fees can go as high as $2,500 or more.)

Property Taxes

Property taxes, which are generally based on the assessed value of a home, are often included in a borrower’s monthly mortgage payment, so it’s important to include this amount when you calculate home affordability. (Check your county’s website for the correct number.)

Location

If you’re a fan of real estate shows like House Hunters, you already know the city or even the particular neighborhood you want to live in can be a big factor in determining how much house you can afford. The overall cost of living can vary by state, and costs are also typically higher in cities vs. rural areas. If you aren’t willing to compromise on location, you may have to increase your housing budget to buy in the area you want.

Recommended: Best Affordable Places to Live in the U.S.

How to Afford More House with Down Payment Assistance

If you have the means to manage a higher monthly payment but you need some help with your down payment, there are state and federal down payment assistance programs that can help.

Many programs set limits on how much an eligible home can cost, or on the homebuyer’s income. But it’s worth checking out what’s available to you — especially if you live in a state with higher home values. In California, for example, where homes can be expensive, a first-time homebuyer with a $200,000 income still can qualify for assistance in some counties.

Home Affordability Examples

With a home affordability calculator, you can get a basic idea of how much house you can afford by plugging in some basic information about your income, savings, debt, and the home you hope to buy. Here are some hypothetical examples:

Example #1: Saver with a Little Debt

Annual income: $200,000

Amount available for down payment: $80,000

Monthly debt: $650

Mortgage rate: 6.5%

Property tax rate: 1.125%

House budget: $700,000



Example #2: Less Debt, But Also Less Savings

Gross annual income: $200,000

Amount available for down payment: $20,000

Monthly debt: $200

Mortgage rate: 6.5

Property tax rate: 1.125%

House budget: $605,000

How You Can Calculate How Much House You Can Afford

Along with using an online calculator to figure out how much house you might be able to afford on a $200,000 income, you also can run the numbers on your own. Some different calculations include:

The 28/36 Rule

We already covered the 28/36 rule, which combines two factors that lenders typically look at to determine home affordability: income and debt. The first number sets a limit of 28% of gross income as a homebuyer’s maximum total mortgage payment, including principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. The second number limits the mortgage payment plus any other debts to no more than 36% of gross income.

Here’s an example: If your gross annual income is $200,000, that’s $16,666 per month. So with the 28/36 rule, you could aim for a monthly mortgage payment of about $4,666—as long as your total debt (including car payments, credit cards, etc.) isn’t more than $6,000.

The 35/45 Model

Another DIY calculation is the 35/45 method, which recommends spending no more than 35% of your gross income on your mortgage and debt, and no more than 45% of your after-tax income on your mortgage and debt.

Here’s an example: Let’s say your gross monthly income is $16,666 and your after-tax income is about $13,000. In this scenario, you might spend between $5,833 and $5,850 per month on your debt payments and mortgage combined. This calculation gives you a bit more breathing room with your mortgage payment, as long as you aren’t carrying too much debt.

The 25% After-Tax Rule

If you’re worried about overspending, or you have other goals you’re working toward, this method will give you a more conservative result. With this calculation, your target is to spend no more than 25% of your after-tax income on your mortgage. Let’s say you make $13,000 a month after taxes. With this method, you would plan to spend $3,250 on your mortgage payments.

Keep in mind that these equations can only give you a rough idea of how much you can spend. When you want to be more certain about the overall price tag and monthly payments you can afford, it helps to go through the mortgage preapproval process.

Recommended: 2024 Home Loan Help Center

How Your Monthly Payment Affects Affordability

Some eager homebuyers can tend to put most of their focus on a home’s listing price or the interest rate. But it’s how those factors and others combine to raise or lower the monthly payment that can ultimately determine whether a buyer can afford the home or not.

Before signing on the dotted line, it’s a good idea to run the numbers on an online mortgage calculator to be confident you can stay on track.

If you do find yourself struggling a bit — perhaps because your income changes or an unexpected life event occurs — refinancing to a new loan with a lower payment may be an option. (Especially if interest rates drop.) But how soon you can refinance may depend on the type of loan you have.

Types of Home Loans Available to $200,000 Households

A $200,000 income can go a long way toward helping a buyer qualify for certain mortgage options, such as a conventional or jumbo loan. But a higher salary also could make you ineligible for a government-backed loan that has income limits. There also may be limits on the purchase price and type of property, depending on the mortgage you get.

Here are a few of the options that may be available to $200,000-income households:

Conventional Loans This loan is issued by a private lender, such as a bank, credit union, or other financial institution.

FHA loans Insured by the Federal Housing Administration, FHA loans are a good resource for borrowers with a lower credit score or little money available for a down payment. There are no limits on how much you can earn and get an FHA loan, but there may be a limit on how much you can borrow depending on where you plan to reside.

VA loans A loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is an excellent option for eligible members of the U.S. military and surviving spouses. There are no income limits on VA loans, and there are no longer standard loan limits on VA direct or VA-backed home loans.

USDA loans These loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and are meant to help moderate- to low-income borrowers buy homes in eligible (typically rural) areas. Loan limits and income limits are based on the home’s location.


💡 Quick Tip: Keep in mind that FHA home loans are available for your primary residence only. Investment properties and vacation homes are not eligible.

The Takeaway

There are several variables that factor into how much home you can afford. Besides your income, lenders will look at your credit, your debt, and your down payment to determine how much you can borrow. To find a loan and monthly payment that’s a good fit for you, it’s a good idea to research and compare different loan types and amounts. And, if you have questions, you can seek advice from a qualified mortgage professional.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

Is $200,000 a good salary for a single person?

According to the Census Bureau, only 11.5% of U.S. households earned $200,000 or more in 2022. So, if you’re earning $200,000 all on your own, you could say you’re doing pretty well.

What is a comfortable income for a single person?

“Comfortable” is a subjective term and can vary from one person to the next. For some people comfortable means being able to buy what they want. For others it means crafting and following a careful budget so that they know where their money is going each month.

What is a livable wage in 2024?

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Calculator lists living costs across the U.S., and its “livable wage” varies widely based on family size and location. For a single person with no children in Napa County, California, for instance, the living wage is $21.62 per hour. In Boone County, Nebraska, it’s $14.93 per hour.

What salary is considered rich for a single person?

The top 5% of earners made, on average, $335,891 in 2021, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the Economic Policy Institute. (If you feel as though you have to be in the top 1% to be “rich,” you’d have to earn $819,324 or more.)


Photo credit: iStock/YvanDube

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

¹FHA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by FHA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. FHA loans require an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP), which may be financed or paid at closing, in addition to monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP). Maximum loan amounts vary by county. The minimum FHA mortgage down payment is 3.5% for those who qualify financially for a primary purchase. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
Veterans, Service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserve may be eligible for a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by VA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. VA loans typically require a one-time funding fee except as may be exempted by VA guidelines. The fee may be financed or paid at closing. The amount of the fee depends on the type of loan, the total amount of the loan, and, depending on loan type, prior use of VA eligibility and down payment amount. The VA funding fee is typically non-refundable. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.

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Five Steps to Changing Your Homeowners Insurance

5 Steps to Changing Your Homeowners Insurance

Whether it’s a cozy micro-cabin or a rambling Colonial, your home is probably the single largest purchase you’ll ever make and your biggest physical asset. An investment like that is worth protecting.

That’s where homeowners insurance comes in; it gives you peace of mind that if you were to have major damage or get robbed, there would be funds to repair and restore your home. But what happens when you think it’s time to change your policy?

Here’s what you need to know about switching your homeowners insurance policy, as well as a step-by-step guide to getting it done as quickly as possible and with a minimum of hassles.

Can I Switch Homeowners Insurance at Any Time?

Good news: yes! No matter the reason, you’re allowed to change your homeowner’s insurance at any time. This is good, since shopping around for the right policy can save you a lot of money in some instances.

If you’re shopping for a new home as we speak, it can be a good idea to start looking at insurance before you sign the purchase agreement. And if you’re an existing homeowner looking to save money or simply find a new policy, you absolutely can do so whenever you like. But it’s important to follow the steps in order to ensure you don’t accidentally have a lapse in coverage.


💡 Quick Tip: Homeowners insurance covers three basic categories: the building itself, the belongings inside, and your liability if someone gets hurt on your property.

When Should I Change My Homeowners Insurance?

There are certain events that should also trigger a review of your insurance, including paying off your mortgage (your rates may well go down) and adding a pool (your rates may go up). Also, you may find you are offered deals if you bundle your homeowners insurance with, say, your car insurance; that might be a savings you want to consider.

You never know what options might be available out there to help you save some money. And since homeowners insurance can easily cost more than $1,800 per year, it can be well worth shopping around.

Recommended: Is Homeowners Insurance Required to Buy a Home?

How Often Should I Change My Homeowners Insurance?

You’re really the only person who can answer this one, but in general, it’s a good idea to at least review your coverage annually.

However, it does take time and effort. Sometimes, a cheaper policy means less coverage, so it’s not always a good deal. Be sure you’re able to thoroughly review all the fine print and make sure you know what you’re getting.

Ready to change your homeowners insurance? Follow these steps in order to ensure you don’t accidentally sustain a loss in coverage!

Step One: Check the Terms and Conditions of Your Existing Policy

The first step toward changing your homeowners insurance policy is ensuring that you actually want to change it in the first place!

Take a look at your existing policy and see what your coverage is like, and be sure to look closely to see if there are any specific terms about early termination. While you always have the right to change your homeowners insurance policy, there could be a fee involved. In many instances, you may have to wait a bit to receive a prorated refund for unused coverage.

Step Two: Think about Your Coverage Needs

Once you have a handle on what your current insurance covers, you can start shopping for new insurance in an informed way. You probably don’t want to “save money” by accidentally purchasing a less comprehensive plan. But do think about how your coverage needs may have shifted since you last purchased homeowners insurance.

For example, the value of your home may have changed (lucky you if your once “up and coming” neighborhood is not officially a hot market). Or perhaps you’ve added on additional structures or outbuildings and need to bump up your policy to cover those.

Step Three: Research Different Insurance Companies

Now comes the labor-intensive part: looking around at other available insurance policies to see what’s on offer. Keep your current premiums and deductibles in mind as you shop around. Saving money is likely one of the main objectives of this exercise, though sometimes, higher costs are worth it for better coverage.

Make sure you are carefully comparing coverage limits, deductibles, and premiums to get the best policy for your needs. Also consider whether the policy is providing actual cash value or replacement value. You may want to opt for a slightly pricier “replacement value” so you have funds to go out and buy new versions of any lost or damaged items, versus getting a lower, depreciated amount.

In addition to the theoretical coverage you encounter, it’s a good idea to stick with insurers with a good reputation. All the coverage in the world doesn’t matter if it’s only on paper; you need to be able to get through to customer service and file a claim when and if the time comes!

Fortunately, many online reviews are available that make this vetting process a lot easier. A few reputable sources for ratings: The Better Business Bureau and J.D. Power’s Customer Satisfaction Survey, and Property Claims Satisfaction Study. You can also do some of the footwork yourself by calling around to get quotes, though this is time-intensive and you might want to simply use an online comparison tool instead.

Step Four: Start Your New Policy, Then Cancel Your Old One

Found a new insurance plan that suits your needs better than your current one? Great news! But here’s the really important part: You want to get that new policy started before you cancel your old one.

That’s because even a short lapse in coverage could jeopardize your valuable investment, as well as drive up premiums in the future. Once you’ve made the new insurance purchase call and have your new declarations page in hand, you are ready to make the old insurance cancellation call. Be sure to verify the following with your old insurer:

•   The cancellation date is on or after the new insurance policy’s start date.

•   The old insurance policy won’t be automatically renewed and is fully canceled.

•   If you’re entitled to a prorated refund, find out how it will be issued and how long it will take to arrive.

Congratulations: You’ve got new homeowners insurance!

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait

Step Five: Let Your Lender Know

The last step, but still a very important one, is to notify your mortgage lender about your homeowners insurance change. Most mortgage lenders require homeowners insurance, and they need to be kept up-to-date on who’s got your back should calamity strike. Additionally, if you still owe more than 80% the home value to your lender, they may still be paying the insurer for you through an escrow account — so you definitely want to make sure those payments are going to the right company.


💡 Quick Tip: A basic homeowners insurance plan doesn’t cover floods, earthquakes, or sinkholes. If you live in an area prone to natural disasters, you may want to look into supplemental coverage.

The Takeaway

Homeowners insurance is an important but often expensive form of financial protection. It can help you cover the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home if you undergo a covered loss or damage. Since our homes are such valuable investments, they’re worth safeguarding. Plus, most mortgage lenders require homeowners insurance.

Sometimes, changing your policy can help you save money for comparable or better coverage. Reviewing and possibly rethinking your homeowners insurance is an important process, especially as your needs and lifestyle evolve. If you’ve added on to your home, put in a pool, bought a prized piece of art, or are enduring more punishing weather, all are signals that you should take a fresh look at your policy and make sure you’re well protected.

If you’re a new homebuyer, SoFi Protect can help you look into your insurance options. SoFi and Lemonade offer homeowners insurance that requires no brokers and no paperwork. Secure the coverage that works best for you and your home.

Find affordable homeowners insurance options with SoFi Protect.

Photo credit: iStock/MonthiraYodtiwong


Insurance not available in all states.
Experian is a registered service mark of Experian Personal Insurance Agency, Inc.
Social Finance, Inc. ("SoFi") is compensated by Experian for each customer who purchases a policy through Experian from the site.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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What Are Subprime Mortgages, Who Are They For, and What Are Their Risks?

What Are Subprime Mortgages and What Are Their Risks?

Subprime mortgages allow borrowers with lower credit scores to obtain homeownership, but the homebuyers pay a steep price for the privilege, thanks to the higher risk to lenders. Fortunately, there is hope for subprime borrowers who raise their credit profiles through consistent, on-time payments: They can look into refinancing. Here’s a closer look at the subprime mortgage world.

What Is a Subprime Mortgage?

A subprime mortgage is a housing loan made to a borrower with a subprime credit score, typically one in the 580 to 669 range, although what constitutes a prime and subprime credit score can vary among lenders and organizations. A credit score above 670 is considered prime, according to Experian, which tracks data on the credit industry. (And generally speaking, to qualify for the best interest rates, a borrower needs a “super prime” score of 740 or better.)

Borrowers with lower credit scores represent a greater risk to the lender; they are statistically more likely to have trouble paying on time. So subprime mortgages often come with higher interest rates and larger down payments to help protect the lender from the increased risk of default.

Subprime borrowers accept these terms because they cannot qualify for a conventional mortgage — one from a private lender like a bank, credit union, or mortgage company — with lower costs. Subprime mortgages are different from government-backed loans for borrowers with low credit scores (such as FHA loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration).


💡 Quick Tip: Buying a home shouldn’t be aggravating. SoFi’s online mortgage application is quick and simple, with dedicated Mortgage Loan Officers to guide you through the process.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


How Subprime Mortgages Work

The main difference between a mortgage loan offered to a prime borrower vs. a subprime borrower is cost. Borrowers go through the same rigorous underwriting process with a lender and must submit documentation to verify income, employment, and assets.

But in the end, a prime borrower is offered the best rates, while a subprime borrower with so-called bad credit has to put more money down, pay more in fees, and pay a much higher interest rate over the life of the loan. Subprime mortgages also are often adjustable-rate mortgages, which means the payment can go up based on market indices after a predetermined period of time.

Subprime Mortgages and the 2008 Housing Market Crash

Subprime mortgages became popular in the 2000s as more high-risk mortgages were made available to subprime borrowers. In 2005, subprime mortgages accounted for 20% of all new mortgage loans.

It became possible for a lender to originate more of these high-risk mortgages because of a new financial product called private-label mortgage-backed securities, sold to investors to fund the mortgages. The investments masked the risk of the subprime mortgages within.

Home prices soared as more borrowers sought out the various subprime mortgages being offered. Rising home prices also protected the investors of mortgage-backed securities from losses.

When the housing market had passed its peak and borrowers had no viable option for selling or refinancing their homes, properties began to fall into default. In an attempt to reduce their risk exposure, lenders originated fewer loans and increased requirements for all borrowers. This depressed the market further.

Financial institutions that had taken strong positions in mortgage-backed securities were also in trouble. Many of the largest banking institutions in the world filed for bankruptcy, and the world learned once again what stock market crashes are.

In response to the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve implemented low mortgage rates in an attempt to jumpstart the economy.

Subprime Mortgage Regulations

In the wake of the financial crisis, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act to reduce excessive risk-taking in the mortgage industry. It established rules for what qualified mortgages are, which gave lenders a set of rules to follow to ensure that borrowers had the ability to repay the loans they were applying for.

It also provided regulation of qualified mortgages, including:

•   Limiting mortgages to 30-year terms

•   Limiting the amount of debt a borrower can take on to 43%

•   Barring interest-only payments

•   Barring negative amortization

•   Barring balloon payments

•   Putting a cap on fees and points a borrower can be charged for a loan

Subprime mortgages are not qualified mortgages. Borrowers who seek non-qualified mortgage loans may include self-employed people who want a more flexible financial verification process, people who have high debt, and people who want an interest-only loan.

Types of Subprime Mortgages

The most common types of subprime mortgages are adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), extended-term mortgages, and interest-only mortgages.

•   ARMs. Adjustable-rate mortgages have an interest rate that will change over the life of the loan. They often come with a low introductory rate, which after a predetermined time period changes to a rate tied to market indices.

•   Extended-term mortgages. A subprime mortgage may have a term of 40 years instead of the typical 30-year term. Add to this the higher interest rate, and borrowers pay much more for the mortgage over the life of the loan.

•   Interest-only mortgages. Interest-only loans offer borrowers the ability to only repay the interest part of the loan for the first part of the repayment period. Borrowers have the option of not repaying any principal for five to 10 years. The annual percentage rate is typically higher than for conventional loans. Origination fees may be higher as well.

The “dignity mortgage,” a new kind of subprime loan, could help borrowers who expect to redeem their creditworthiness. The borrower makes a down payment of about 10% and agrees to pay a higher rate of interest for a number of years, typically five. After that period of on-time payments, the amount paid toward interest goes toward reducing the mortgage balance, and the rate is lowered to the prime rate.

Subprime vs Prime Mortgages

Subprime mortgages have many of the same features as prime mortgages, but there are some key differences.

Subprime Mortgage

Prime Mortgage

Higher interest rate Lower interest rate
Borrowers have fair credit, with scores generally between 580 and 669 Borrowers have good credit, with scores generally from 670 to 739
Larger down payment requirements Smaller down payment requirements
Smaller loan amounts Larger loan amounts
Higher fees Lower fees
Longer repayment periods Shorter repayment periods
Often an adjustable interest rate Fixed or adjustable rates

Applying for Subprime Mortgages

Most lenders require a minimum credit score of 620 for a conventional mortgage, but there are lenders out there that specialize in subprime mortgages.

Generally, applying for a subprime mortgage is much the same as applying for a traditional mortgage. Lenders will check your credit and analyze your finances. They will ask for proof of income, verification of employment, and documentation of assets (such as bank statements). They may also ask for documentation regarding your debts or negative items in your credit reports.

Mortgage rates for subprime loans will vary depending on the prime rate, lending institution, the home’s location, the loan amount, the down payment, credit score, the interest rate type, the loan term, and loan type. The rate is typically much higher than a prime mortgage’s.

A mortgage calculator can help you find out what your monthly payments will be with a subprime mortgage. Simply adjust your mortgage rate to the one quoted by a lender for your credit situation.

Alternatives to Subprime Mortgages

Subprime loans are not the only option for borrowers with fair credit scores. Borrowers with credit issues can also look at mortgages backed by the FHA and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

FHA loans have more flexible standards for borrowers than conventional loans. Though borrowers can obtain a mortgage with a credit score as low as 500 (assuming they have a 10% down payment), FHA loans are not considered subprime mortgages. Instead, FHA loans are government-backed loans that provide mortgage insurance to FHA-approved lenders to use if the borrower defaults on the loan.

For many borrowers with good credit and a moderate down payment, FHA loans are more expensive and don’t make sense. However, for borrowers with lower credit scores and smaller down payments, an FHA loan could be the best option.

VA loans have no minimum credit requirement, but instead, lenders review the entire loan profile. The VA advises lenders to consider credit satisfactory if 12 months of payments have been made after the last derogatory credit item (in cases not involving bankruptcy).


💡 Quick Tip: Keep in mind that FHA loans are available for your primary residence only. Investment properties and vacation homes are not eligible.1

The Takeaway

Subprime mortgages allow borrowers with impaired credit to unlock the door to a home, but to mitigate risk, the lender may charge more for the loan. Borrowers considering this type of mortgage would be smart to look closely at terms and costs, and to also consider other options such as FHA loans.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.


Photo credit: iStock/shapecharge

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

¹FHA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by FHA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. FHA loans require an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP), which may be financed or paid at closing, in addition to monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP). Maximum loan amounts vary by county. The minimum FHA mortgage down payment is 3.5% for those who qualify financially for a primary purchase. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
Veterans, Service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserve may be eligible for a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by VA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. VA loans typically require a one-time funding fee except as may be exempted by VA guidelines. The fee may be financed or paid at closing. The amount of the fee depends on the type of loan, the total amount of the loan, and, depending on loan type, prior use of VA eligibility and down payment amount. The VA funding fee is typically non-refundable. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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Rolling Closing Costs Into Home Loans: Here's What You Should Know

Rolling Closing Costs Into Home Loans: Here’s What You Should Know

Heard of a no-closing-cost mortgage or refinance? Sounds divine, but mortgage closing costs are as certain as death and taxes. They must be accounted for, one way or the other.

You may be spared the pain of paying closing costs upfront, depending on the type of loan and the lender’s criteria, but they won’t just magically disappear. Instead, you’ll either be given a higher interest rate on the mortgage to cover those costs or see the costs added to your principal balance.

If you’re thinking about what’s needed to buy a house, keep closing costs in mind and understand the pros and cons of rolling these costs into your loan.

What Are Closing Costs?

A flock of fees known as closing costs on a new home are part and parcel of a sale. They typically range from 2% to 5% of the home’s purchase price. Closing costs include origination fees, recording fees, title insurance, the appraisal fee, property taxes, homeowners insurance, and possibly mortgage points. Some of the costs are unavoidable; lender fees are negotiable.

Closing costs come into play when acquiring a mortgage and when refinancing an existing home loan.

You may cover closing costs with a cash payment at closing, with your down payment, or by tacking them on to your monthly loan payments. You may also be able to negotiate with the sellers to have them cover some or all of the closing costs.


💡 Quick Tip: When house hunting, don’t forget to lock in your home mortgage loan rate so there are no surprises if your offer is accepted.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


Can Closing Costs Be Rolled Into a Loan?

If you’re buying a home and taking out a new mortgage, your lender may allow you to roll your closing costs into the loan, depending on:

•   the type of home loan

•   the loan-to-value ratio

•   your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio

Rolling closing costs into your new mortgage can raise the DTI and loan-to-value ratios above a lender’s acceptable level. If this is the case, you may not be able to roll your closing costs into your loan. It’s also possible that if you roll in your closing costs, your loan-to-value ratio will become high enough that you will be forced to pay for private mortgage insurance. In that case, it may be worth it to pay your closing costs upfront if you can.

If you hear of someone who’s taken out a mortgage and says they rolled their closing costs into their loan, they may have actually acquired a lender credit — the lender agreed to pay the closing costs in exchange for a higher interest rate in a “no-closing-cost mortgage.” A no-closing-cost refinance works similarly.

Not all closing costs can be financed. For example, you can’t roll in the cost of homeowners insurance or prepaid property tax. Some of the costs that may be included are the origination fees, title fees and title insurance, appraisal fees, discount points, and the credit report fee.

What about government-backed mortgages? Most FHA loan closing costs can be financed. And VA loans usually require a one-time VA “funding fee,” which can be rolled into the mortgage.

USDA loans will allow borrowers to roll closing costs into their loan if the home they are buying appraises for more than the sales price. Buyers can then use the extra loan amount to pay the closing costs.

Finally, for FHA and USDA loans, the seller may contribute up to 6% of the home value as a seller concession for closing costs.

How to Roll Closing Costs Into an Existing Home Loan

When you’re refinancing an existing mortgage and you roll in closing costs, you add the cost to the balance of your new mortgage. This is also known as financing your closing costs. Instead of paying for them up front, you’ll be paying a small portion of the costs each month, plus interest.

Pros of Rolling Closing Costs Into Home Loans

If you don’t have the cash on hand to pay your closing costs, rolling them into your mortgage could be advantageous, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer or short-term homeowner.

Even if you do have the cash, rolling closing costs into your loan allows you to keep that cash on hand to use for other purposes that may be more important to you at the time.

Cons of Rolling Closing Costs Into Home Loans

Rolling closing costs into a home loan can be expensive. By tacking on money to your loan principal, you’ll be increasing how much you spend each month on interest payments.

You’ll also increase your DTI ratio, which may make it more difficult for you to secure other loans if you need them.

By adding closing costs to your loan, you are also increasing your loan to value ratio, which means less equity and, often, private mortgage insurance.

Here are pros and cons of rolling closing costs into your loan at a glance:

Pros of Rolling In Costs

Cons of Rolling In Costs

Allows you to afford a home loan if you don’t have the cash on hand Increases interest paid over the life of the loan
Allows you to keep cash for other purposes Increases DTI, which can lower your ability to secure future credit
May allow you to buy a house sooner than you would otherwise be able to Increases loan to value ratio, which may trigger private mortgage insurance
Reduces the amount of equity you have in your home

Is It Smart to Roll Closing Costs Into Home Loans?

Whether or not rolling closing costs into a home loan is the right choice for you will depend largely on your personal circumstances. If you don’t have the money to cover closing costs now, rolling them in may be a worthwhile option.

However, if you have the cash on hand, it may be better to pay the closing costs upfront. In most cases, paying closing costs upfront will result in paying less for the loan overall.

No matter which option you choose, you may want to do what you can to reduce closing costs, such as negotiating fees with lenders and trying to negotiate a concession with the sellers in which they pay some or all of your costs. That said, a seller concession will be difficult to obtain if your local housing market is competitive.


💡 Quick Tip: If you refinance your mortgage and shorten your loan term, you could save a substantial amount in interest over the lifetime of the loan.

The Takeaway

Closing costs are an inevitable part of taking out a home loan or refinancing one. Rolling closing costs into the loan may be an option, but it pays to carefully consider the long-term costs of avoiding paying closing costs up front before you commit to your mortgage.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

What is a no-closing-cost mortgage?

The name of this kind of mortgage is a bit misleading. Closing costs are in play, but the lender agrees to cover them in exchange for a higher interest rate or adds them to the loan balance.

How much are home closing costs?

Closing costs are usually 2% to 5% of the purchase price of a home.

Can you waive closing costs on a home?

Some closing costs must be paid, no matter what. But you can try to negotiate origination and application fees with your lender. You may even be able to get your lender to waive certain fees entirely.


Photo credit: iStock/kate_sept2004

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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