28/36 Rule

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DEFINITION of '28/36 Rule'

A rule-of-thumb for calculating the amount of debt that can be taken on by an individual or household. The 28/36 Rule states that a household should spend a maximum of 28% of its gross monthly income on total housing expenses and no more than 36% on total debt service, including housing and other debt such as car loans. This rule is used by mortgage lenders and other creditors to assess borrowing capacity, the premise being that debt loads in excess of the 28/36 yardstick would be difficult for an individual or household to service and may eventually lead to default.

BREAKING DOWN '28/36 Rule'

For example, an individual with a monthly income of $5,000 who adheres to the 28/36 Rule would be able to spend a maximum of $1,400 on monthly housing expenses, which would include mortgage payments, home insurance, property taxes and other housing-related expenses, such as condo fees. An additional $400 would be available for other debt such as credit card expenses and car loans.

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