By Matt Allen
Vice President, Portfolio Lending (NMLS #415037);

How Much House Can I Afford With An FHA Loan?

Jun 14, 2023

  • First-Time Home Buyer
  • FHA Loans

Thanks to Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, buying a house is possible for first-time buyers, buyers with a limited down payment, or buyers with limited or unique credit history. Insured by the Federal Housing Administration, their flexible underwriting model can make it easier to purchase a home than a traditional loan.

When determining how much you can afford to spend on a new home, there are several significant factors to consider. The lender you choose, FHA eligibility, and FHA limits all play a large part. Let’s look more closely at how your property budget is calculated.

FHA Loan Limits

The amount the FHA will insure on a home loan is not unlimited; they have a maximum lending amount known as the FHA loan limit. Each year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announces this FHA loan limit, which could be carried over from the previous year or increased to reflect changes in the housing market.

Each county in the U.S. has a slightly different loan limit set according to regional factors. Since these limits are calculated at the county level, you’ll want to check the limits for the counties you are considering buying. The HUD website has a county-by-county breakdown for you to review.

Your Debt-to-Income (DTI) Ratio

Both the FHA and your lender will have their own DTI ratio requirements when determining how much you can borrow through an FHA loan. These ratios are based on the monthly amount you pay for debts versus your pre-tax income. Two separate DTIs are calculated when the FHA or your lender is determining a borrowing limit for you.

The front-end DTI uses the sum of your monthly mortgage payment, your homeowner’s insurance, and real estate taxes.

The second DTI calculated is your back-end DTI, which considers all of the factors included in the front-end DTI plus your other monthly debt payments. This includes credit card debt, student loans, car loans, and so on.

DTI will be an important component in determining FHA loan eligibility.

Exceptions for DTI Ratios

There are ways you might qualify for an FHA loan, even with a higher DTI ratio. A lender can document that there are compensating factors to show that you are a strong potential borrower.

Compensating factors that may excuse a higher DTI include cash reverses verified in documents, residual income or other additional income not reflected in effective income, or demonstration that there’s only a minimal increase in housing payments.

Your Actual Budget

One of the essential factors in determining your property budget is what you’re comfortable with. It's possible that you will be approved for a loan that is more than you need or may become unaffordable over time. A new baby, job loss, a child going to college, moving, and many other factors could change your financial situation. And in addition to monthly bills, you will want to account for all your other expenses when considering how much to spend on a property. Map out all these factors to handle changes and unexpected expenses in your budget. Automatically accepting the maximum loan you qualify for may not be your best long-term decision.

Here's a calculator that can help you determine your FHA loan payments based on your purchased price, down payment, term, and interest rate. NASB has been helping FHA loan borrowers for decades, and we can be on your side as you navigate the loan process. Call an expert at 855-465-0753, or contact us here.