Am I Ready to Buy a Home?
By Ellen McGirt and Judy Feldman

(MONEY Magazine) – Q. I'm 29 and have $45,000 in student loans. Will it keep me from buying a home? Should I borrow from my 403(b)? --Eboni Gates, membership coordinator, Studio Museum, New York City

A. Although it may feel like you're swimming in debt, a strong credit history and good job can still land you a mortgage. Most lenders will follow what's called the 28/36 rule, which says your housing expenses (mortgage, insurance, taxes and maintenance) shouldn't exceed 28% of your gross income, and total debt payments (including student loans) shouldn't exceed 36%. To get your budget, try our calculators at; then explore the government's low-interest-rate and zero-down-payment deals for first-time home buyers at Your 403(b) is a last resort: Besides making a dent in your retirement plan, you may have to pay back a lump sum if you switch jobs. --ELLEN McGIRT AND JUDY FELDMAN