This Is the Average U.S. Mortgage Payment. Can You Swing It?

Housing is the typical American’s largest monthly expense. And taking on too high a mortgage payment could wreck your finances and lead you to rack up a lot of debt.

But what’s considered too high? The average U.S. homeowner spends $1,067 a month on a mortgage payment, according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s a pretty big jump, however, from the average monthly payment of $995 one year ago.

The reason for that increase? Home prices have soared over the past year as low mortgage rates and limited inventory have pushed buyer demand through the roof. As such, a lot of recent home buyers may have taken on higher payments that are skewing the national average upward — and that’s with mortgage rates being extremely competitive over the past several months.

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What mortgage payment can you afford?

If you’re looking to buy a home, you may be wondering whether you can afford the monthly payments that come with it. Of course, just because the typical homeowner pays $1,067 a month doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll pay. Depending on the home you buy and the market you buy in, your mortgage payments may be much higher or a lot lower. The amount of your down payment will also dictate what your monthly mortgage payments look like.

So how do you know how much house you can afford? As a general rule, your predictable housing costs should not exceed 30% of your take-home pay. There’s a little wiggle room in this formula, such as if you live in a city that’s walkable, so you spend next to nothing on transportation expenses. But for the most part, sticking to that 30% threshold will help you avoid getting in over your head.

So what expenses does that 30% cover? For the most part, it’s your fixed monthly costs, like your:

  • Mortgage payment
  • Property tax payment
  • Homeowners insurance payment
  • Homeowners association fee
  • Private mortgage insurance payment (which applies if you don’t make a 20% down payment on your home)

Now, let’s say you bring home $4,000 a month. That means your housing costs shouldn’t exceed $1,200 (based on that 30% recommendation). That also means you may be able to swing the average U.S. mortgage payment — $1,067 — if your other expenses are low.

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To see what you can afford, it pays to use a mortgage calculator that will break out your expenses for you. That way, you’ll put yourself in a better position to know what price range to stick to when buying a home. You can also play around with different down payment options to see how that impacts your monthly payments.

While the average mortgage payment may be sitting at $1,067, you may be able to afford a lot more than that. Or $1,067 may be too high a payment for you to commit to. Run the numbers so you don’t wind up making a decision you regret.

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