Home ownership offers tax benefits as well as the freedom to make decisions about your home. Knowing what you can afford is the first rule of home buying, and that depends on how much income and how much debt you have. In general, lenders don’t want borrowers to spend more than 28 percent of their gross income per month on a mortgage payment or more than 36 percent on debts. It pays to check with several lenders before you start searching for a home. Most will be happy to roughly calculate what you can afford and prequalify you for a loan. A real estate agent is a good source for finding out the status of the local housing market. Closing costs are either paid by the home seller or home buyer. It often depends on what the buyer or seller negotiates.