No. of Recommendations: 35
I was going to write up something even more involved, since I'm in a kinda similar situation and have a whole complex spreadsheet (yeah, yeah, everyone out there, I Have A Spreadsheet. I'm sure you're stunned) dealing with this, but....

Look, you won't get the loan unless your GF is on the app, and if she is you should wait til she's your wife, not your GF. Top front end ratio virtually any lender will consider is 28%, as noted by others before. (FWIW to others on this thread, they'll do back end ratios of 45%. Yes, they will. Don't get me started on this...). Anyway, at 80K gross your front end ratio is 1,866.67. That needs to cover principal AND interest AND PMI AND property taxes AND Homeowner's insurance AND homeowner's association dues, if any. Let's assume there's no HOA, so it's just PITI.

Let's assume you get a 4.5% mortgage, which may well be kinda optimistic. You already said property taxes are ~7K, so that uses up $583.33 right there. You've got a whopping 1283.33 left. On a 449K house I'd be pretty shocked if your insurance didn't run you at least another $100/month (probably considerably more, but let's just use $100/month for now). This leaves you with 1,183.33 left. We'll assume you sink 67,500 into a down payment (again, this will likely be less, because even ignoring the reserve requirement you will have some closing costs on that purchase, but hey, let's be generous). At 15% or more down but less than 20%, PMI rates are .0032 (give or take), at 20% or more there will be no PMI. So, plugging this into a real quick excel sheet and solving for max house, we get 301,044.04 for HOUSE cost (with a mortgage of just ~233.5K). IOW, basically just north of 300K is max you should be looking at. Which, quite frankly, sounds about right even before the math. Of course at that level of house the property taxes would be slightly lower as well as homeowner's insurance, but you can always build a spreadsheet for that and refine it if you wanna crunch numbers.

Main point is, no way in heck are you qualifying for a 350K+ loan, unless the GF is involved in the app, and that opens up a whole slew of issues that have nothing to do with math. You're gonna propose? Do it, then get married (and weddings also usually cost money, ya know). It's a first house so you gotta buy "stuff" to maintain it, as duly noted. Properly maintaining a house costs money. 2,500 sq ft will require more utility costs than a 1,500 sq ft or less apartment will. And so on.

Look, you've saved a nice chunk of change and that's good. GF has "substantial loans to pay off"? If those are student loans, understood. If that's consumer debt...well, that's a relationship warning sign, jus' sayin'.

It ain't like the housing market is zooming back north in the immediate future, apparently. Rates my go back up over time, but the housing market is still in a rough time. As Dave Donhoff said, there's lots of houses out there, and there will be plenty more. We saw a "dream house" several months ago but were not in a position to buy yet; it's gone but there's plenty more awfully pretty places as well.

My first suggestion would be propose to the GF, THEN get married, THEN look to buy a house. Don't assume 3% to 5% raises. Make sure you and GF are on the same page financially. Commit to buying a house together. Get a pad of paper or an excel spreadsheet and budget it out, including an assumption of kid(s) in the future. You say you've run the numbers, but are you properly accounting for all house costs? What is your guys current "stuff" budget now? You putting stuff aside in retirement accounts. What about Future Kid's college? Will you and GF both continue to work full time after future kid is born, and have you even discussed that yet? You're talking about a house you want to live in for over a decade, that means talking about stuff likely to happen in the next decade, right?

On a non-numbers related issue, it sounds like you'll have LOTS of moving parts in your life in the next 6-18 months. I humbly submit that adding "new homeownership" on top of that may be a little tricky.

On a numbers related note, a 450K house on ~160K combined, predictable income makes a lot more sense than a 450K house on 80K income and "up to" $1K-kinda-sorta-maybe coming in per month.

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