Every homebuyer benefits from a solid plan when approaching the process, especially first time homebuyers. While obstacles are bound to be thrown in your path, a mapped out plan minimizes their impact and gives you a better chance of reaching your goal of home ownership.

A big part of the plan deals with the green stuff: money. The down payment, closing costs, and monthly payments all weigh heavily into whether or not you can land your first home. Here are five ways a mortgage affordability calculator is key to moving your home buying process forward.

#1: Saving for a down payment.
A mortgage affordability calculator shows you how much of a down payment you need. It takes several points into consideration, and shows you the amount you should save to get into the house you want.

#2: Maximizing your credit score.
Different loans depend on the health of your credit score, and the higher the score, the more options available. A mortgage affordability calculator lays this out for you in an easy-to-understand format. It’s especially helpful to those consumers who are thinking about buying in the next two years to show them the benefit of paying their bills on time and paying down credit card debt.

#3: Calculating your target home price.
Based on your salary, savings, and other bills, the calculator gives you an idea of how much home you can afford. This saves you tons of time by keeping you away from homes out of your price range.

#4: Figuring out your monthly payment.
A mortgage affordability calculator helps your decide the monthly payment you can handle, helping you avoid getting in over your head.

#5: Preparing for other fees and expenses.
First time homebuyers may not realize there is more to pay for than just the house. PMI insurance, closing costs, and home warranties are just a few other expenses that rack up when buying a home. A calculator breaks this down for you.

A mortgage affordability calculator is a smart way to pinpoint how much house you can buy, what size monthly mortgage payment you can handle, what credit score you need, and how to prepare for other home purchasing expenses. Use one early in your home buying process as part of your overall plan, so there are fewer nasty surprises during your journey. For more first time homebuyer tips and information that are valuable for the home buying process, download our eBook now!