Knowing some ‘rules of thumb’ can help keep the home buying wheels turning. (Photo: Bigstock).


Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder

Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder

Not only is a home the biggest purchase most people make, the process is full of unknowns. Questions abound about how much home you can afford to how much down payment you need.

Knowing some ‘rules of thumb’ can help keep the home buying wheels turning. And in today’s Boulder County market, an experienced Realtor brings valuable expertise to your decision making. Once you decide you are ready to buy, or seriously consider buying, you should find a Realtor in your area.

In the meantime, to up your ‘in the know’ quotient, here are some tips offered by

Step 1: Determine how much you can afford

Experienced Realtors suggest first-time buyers use their income multiplied times three as a starting point for determining price range. For married couples, incomes can be combined to come up with this figure. This is a good method for initially determining your ability to buy in your market area. And once you’ve decided to start seriously looking, talk to a lender to find out what you can really afford.

Step 2: Determine the down payment needed

Currently, the nationwide average down is 10 percent, not the 20 percent of years past. However, in competitive real estate markets, being prepared with a bigger down payment factors into your offer being accepted over another buyer’s, according to

Step 3: Check your credit score reports that the minimum credit score required by mortgage lenders is 620. Average credit is 620-680, good credit is 680-740, over 740 is excellent.

Step 4: Get pre-approved for a home loan

Loan pre-approval greases the wheels of home buying, especially in the competitive buying environment like Boulder County’s. While the Boulder-area recently has become less of a seller’s market, there are still few homes to buy due to low housing inventory. When you have a lender and mortgage lined up, you are ready to make an offer on that sweet home you want and sellers know you are serious.

Experts say getting pre-approved by a lender lets you know how much home you can afford and identifies any ‘deal breakers’ such as issues with student loans, large recent cash deposits, and how self-employed income is reported.

Once you jump into the market, be ready to move. reports average closing time nationwide is about 43 days.

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By Tom Kalinski. Tom is the broker/owner of RE/MAX of Boulder, the local residential real estate company he established in 1977. He was inducted into Boulder County’s Business Hall of Fame in 2016 and has a 40-year background in commercial and residential real estate. For questions, e-mail Tom at, call 303.441.5620 or visit