Understanding Your Debt To Income Ratio

Understanding Your Debt To Income RatioWhen you are filling out a mortgage application, the lender will be asking you for specific financial information. One of the reasons they ask for this information is to enable the underwriter to calculate your debt to income ratio.

The debt to income ratio is what most mortgage lenders use to determine the level of risk they are taking when they agree to provide you a mortgage. Most mortgage lenders will use your debt to income ratio to determine your interest rate, down payment requirements, and in some instances, escrow requirements.

How Lenders Calculate Debt to Income Ratio

When your loan is being underwritten, the lender will look at both a “front-end” and a “back-end” debt to income ratio. There are two separate calculations for these ratios which are:

  • Front end – this calculation is based entirely on your housing costs. The lender will add up all housing costs including mortgage payments, interest payments on your mortgage, personal mortgage insurance, and insurance payments. The total will then be divided by your current monthly income before taxes and other deductions to find the ratio. Ideally, a lender would not want this number to exceed 36 percent.
  • Back end – the debt to income ratio on the back end includes all expenses including housing. Your lender will likely use your open credit accounts showing on your credit report which could include car loans, revolving credit lines, and student debt. For most mortgages, your debt to income ratio should be no higher than 43 percent.

Current Rent and Housing Expenses

If you are currently paying more than 36 percent of your total income for rental expenses, the lender may consider this when calculating your front-end ratio. For example, if your current rent payment is 40 percent of your total gross income and you can demonstrate you have been making payments on time, as agreed for a long period of time, the lender may be more flexible with the terms of your loan. Keep in mind however, you could pay an interest premium if this is the case.

The back-end ratios are also important. This is because for a lender to have your loan backed by a Fannie Mae, or other approved mortgage backer, your ratio would have to be lower than 43 percent. There are exceptions to this rule but in general, a borrower would face challenges obtaining a mortgage if their debt ratios are too high.

Lowering Debt to Income Ratio

There are two ways to improve your debt to income ratio. The first is to earn more money and the second is to lower your debt. Lowering debt can be accomplished by paying off some of your outstanding debt, putting a larger down payment on your home purchase, or taking a mortgage with a lower interest rate. For most consumers, paying off debt is the best way to lower their ratio.

Keep in mind, even if you have open credit lines that are not being used, your mortgage lender may take them into consideration when calculating your debt to income ratios. Before closing an account however, talk to your mortgage lender about what options you should explore. In some instances, a lender may offer you a shorter-term loan or a loan with an adjustable rate to help you qualify.

Borrowers should be aware that their credit scores are not tied to their debt to income ratios. However, a lower debt to income ratio combined with a higher credit score can make a big difference when it comes to what loan programs a lender may be willing to offer to you.

Contact your trusted mortgage professional to find out more about debt to income ratio and other factors necessary to qualify for a home purchase or refinance. 

Got Student Loans? Tips for Graduating Debt Free

Going to a university or college can be a great opportunity to obtain the education and qualifications you need to pursue the career of your dreams. However, many students find themselves under huge mountains of student debt after graduating, which will take years to pay back.

Taking out student loans to go to college is not always necessary, and with a little foresight, hard student loan debtwork, and ingenuity you can get through your degree without having debt cast a shadow over your life. Here are some tips for graduating debt free:

  • Don’t go to school right away. If you spend a year or two working full time and saving first, you will have a nest egg to support you while you study rather than taking out a loan for it. You will also have more time to gain life experience, think about what you want to study and choose the best program for you.
  • Use the summer time when you are not studying to make as much money as possible. Work a full time job and take on extra hours if you can. In the school year, work part time alongside your schooling.
  • Apply for as many scholarships as possible. There are many to choose from and they can reward huge amounts of money to students. Not all scholarships are entirely based on academics, so even if your grades are not perfect you can still apply.
  • If it is possible to live at home with your parents during your degree, this will save you a lot of money and really help you get through your education debt free. If not, try finding the cheapest apartment or on campus accommodation you can and sharing it with a roommate. It’s not the ideal living situation, but you can have your own apartment in a few years when you are working and can actually afford it!
  • Anytime you get an unexpected windfall, such as birthday money, or prize winnings don’t think of the money as extra but use it to pay for your education instead.
  • Buy only what you need, and buy it as cheaply as possible. When you are decorating your university dorm room, you don’t need brand new furniture when a used desk you found on Craigslist for $15 will work just as well. Buy only the essentials, and try to find them used rather than new so that you will spend less money.
  • Many of your friends will be flashing their designer clothes and brand new laptops, and going out on the town every weekend. It can be difficult to resist wanting to fit in, but it’s important to remember that these students are either being funded completely by their parents, or spending student loans foolishly that they will need to pay back. You might feel like you are missing out as a student, but you will be much richer later as a result.
  • Find free or cheap ways to entertain yourself, so that you don’t spend a lot of money on expensive recreational activities. Go for walks, make dinner and watch a movie at home with friends, or go out on 2 for 1 drinks night at your local bar. The fun part is hanging out with friends, not spending a lot.

These are just a few things that you can do which will help you graduate without a huge student debt.