Why calculate mortgage affordability?
When you're looking to buy a home, it's handy to know how much you can afford. Being able to calculate an estimate of how much you're able to borrow is an important part of setting your budget.
You also need to determine if you have enough cash resources to purchase a home. The cash required is derived from the down payment put towards the purchase price, as well as the closing costs that must be incurred to complete the purchase. We can help you estimate these closing costs with the first tab under the mortgage affordability calculator above.
Taken together, understand how large a mortgage you can afford to borrow and the cash requirements will help you determine what kind of home you should be on the look out for. To learn more about mortgage affordability, and how our calculator works, have a read of the information below.
What is mortgage affordability?
Mortgage affordability refers to how much you’re able to borrow, based on your current income, debt, and living expenses. It’s essentially your purchasing power when buying a home. The higher your mortgage affordability, the more expensive a home you can afford to purchase.
The term ‘affordability’ is also used to describe overall housing affordability, which has more to do with the cost of living in a particular city. If the cost of housing relative to the average income in a city is high, it will be seen as a less affordable place to live. The two terms are related, but it’s important to understand the difference.
There are many factors that will affect the maximum mortgage you can afford to borrow including the household income of the applicants purchasing the home, the personal monthly expenses of those applicants (car payments, credit expenses, etc.), and the expenses associated with owning a home (property taxes, condo fees, and heating costs).
How much can I afford?
How much you can afford to spend on a home in Canada is most determined by how much you can borrow from a mortgage provider. That is unless you have enough cash to purchase a property outright, which is unlikely. Use the above mortgage affordability calculator above to figure out how much you can afford to borrow, based on your current situation.
How to use the mortgage affordability calculator
To use our mortgage affordability calculator, simply enter you and your partner’s income (or your co-applicant’s income), as well as your living costs and debt payments. The calculator can estimate your living expenses if you don’t know them.
With these numbers, you’ll be able to calculate how much you can afford to borrow. You can change your amortization period and mortgage rate, to see how that would affect your mortgage affordability and your monthly payments.
How to estimate affordability
There is a rule of thumb about how much you can afford, based on the calculations your mortgage provider will make. The rule of thumb is you can afford a mortgage where your monthly housing costs are no more than 32% of your gross household income, and where your total debt load (including housing costs) is no more than 40% of your gross houshold income. This rule is based on your debt service ratios
Lenders look at two ratios when determining the mortgage amount you qualify for, which generally indicate how much you can afford. These ratios are called the Gross Debt Service (GDS) ratio and Total Debt Service (TDS) ratio. They take into account your income, monthly housing costs, and overall debt load.
The first affordability guideline, as set out by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), is that your monthly housing costs – mortgage principal and interest, taxes, and heating expenses (P.I.T.H.) - should not exceed 32% of your gross household monthly income. For condominiums, P.I.T.H. also includes half of your monthly condominium fees. The sum of these housing costs as a percentage of your gross monthly income is your GDS ratio.
The CMHC’s second affordability guideline is that your total monthly debt load, including housing costs, should not be more than 40% of your gross monthly income. In addition to housing costs, your total monthly debt load would include credit card interest, car payments, and other loan expenses. The sum of your total monthly debt load as a percentage of your gross household income is your TDS ratio.