Hi KW,Salary is $57,500 year plus a 40% bonus at year end (this is a killer - can't offer it for a salary but it is an integral part of compensation! I'm not an I-banker or in tech or anything, so the bonus is v. secure and was fully paid in 2001. grr.)NOT TRUE!!! your bonus DOES count for regular income... just show it's a regular piece with your W2's and it counts!I can swing a 5% down payment and am expecting to use a 80-15-5 combo loan, most likely. As I'm looking a 4-5 year holding period, a 5/1 ARM would be fine (lower rates, right?).Right... on track so far!Do I meet with a mortgage broker to see how much I could realistically expect to be approved for in order to wean myself from these high-priced dreams?Sure! Can't hurt, can definitely help, and now's a good time to start the process of finding your profesional team.If so, how do I find one?1) Ask everyone you know who owns a home if they know of any brokers,2) Ask for, & check the past-client references of the brokers you call,3) Ask references about good experiences AND what's happened when the "stuff" hit the fan & went wrong, (trouble isn't guaranteed, but you want to be confident your pros know how to handle it if it shows up!)Should I meet with a buyer's broker instead? Or do I just resign myself that I'll either be renting as long as I'm here or else buying a condo next door to the airport?You know we'll never tell you to 'resign yourself to failure...'Also, do explore buyer's brokers (realtors) but not in place of a mortgage broker. They really handle two different sides, and you're better off with 2 good players rather than one attempting to be "master of all."Luck!DaveMortgage Fool
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