Before you can buy a home, you must first determine how much house you can afford. This is undoubtedly the most important factor when looking for a home, because it determines what type of home you can buy as well as the location and how much you can get a mortgage for. Most lenders look at something called your debt to income ratio. This is a formula that considers your current income versus your current debt. Current debts can include credit card debt, student loans, and car payments, to name a few. If this is your first time buying a house, the lender will run your credit report and ask for things like current pay stubs and prior tax filings. This gives them a snapshot of how much home you will be able to afford and how much your monthly payment will be. Having this information is good because it sets limits in advance and will allow your realtor to only show you the homes on the market that you will potentially be able to purchase.