Understanding Mortgage Terminology: Loan-to-Value and Debt-to-Income

Carefully managing your credit history and having a good credit score are both critical factors when applying for a mortgage. There are, however, two other qualifying standards that may not get as much buzz, but are just as important in the eyes of mortgage lenders – loan-to-value (LTV) and debt-to-income (DTI).

Knowing these two numbers is just as important as knowing your credit score. It’s a good indicator of how much you can afford and will help paint your overall financial picture.

LTV is the ratio between the amount of money you are borrowing and the value of your home. If the purchase price is $250,000 and the down payment is $50,000, then the loan amount would be $200,000, which would mean an LTV ratio of 80% ($200,000 divided by $250,000).

Generally, buyers with lower LTV ratios will qualify for lower mortgage rates. These buyers are considered “less risky” because they have more equity in their homes and are less likely to default on their mortgage.

The LTV ratio also determines whether or not private mortgage insurance (PMI) is required. For conventional loans, if an LTV is 80.01% or higher, PMI is necessary. This helps protect the lender in case a buyer defaults on their mortgage. You can put down as little as 3.5% with an FHA loan; but again, you’ll have to pay mortgage insurance. For more information about mortgage insurance, read our previous blog post.

Now let’s move on to the other all-important acronym in the mortgage world. DTI is the amount of recurring debt (including your expected housing payment) you have compared to your gross income. Calculating your DTI is something you can easily do yourself and it only takes a few minutes.  Let’s take a look at an example:

Calculating DTI – An example
1. Add ALL of your recurring monthly debts.  For qualifying purposes, the amount you pay for bills that aren’t on your credit report like car insurance, utilities and phone bills are excluded from this calculation.
     – Mortgage (principal, interest, taxes, insurance, homeowners association fees) – $2,750
     – Car loans – $365
     – Student loans – $250
     – Credit card debt – use minimum payment of $100
       Total= $3,465
2. Your gross income is $120,000 per year or $10,000 per month
3. Divide $3,465 by $10,000
       DTI= 34.65%

Lenders use this ratio as one way to analyze your ability to manage payments. There’s no magic number that lenders look for, but the lower the DTI is, the better your chances are of being approved for a loan. Keep in mind different loan programs have various DTI standards and this is only one of the many tools lenders use today.

If you have any questions regarding mortgage financing, please visit the TBI Mortgage website. TBI Mortgage, a subsidiary of Toll Brothers, contributed to this story.

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