As winter inches toward spring and parts of the country finally start to thaw, many people will hop in their cars and start browsing the local housing stock for their new home. It can be an exciting venture, especially when you’ve found a few in your price range.

But what is your “price range,” really? Do you know what that corner dream house with the covered patio and finished basement will cost you each month? The truth is, the sticker price in the homebuyers guide is just a part of the total housing cost and doesn’t take into account all the other costs and criteria that a lender will be considering when you apply for a mortgage loan.

There are four distinct questions a lender has to answer before they can determine what a mortgage payment is going to look like. We’ll discuss these elements over the next few weeks, but for now… we will start at the beginning.

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