Re: whats the % again when figuring out what you can afford?
I just wanted to chime in and say that setting a budget of estimated expenses is a great idea - it certainly helped us figure out what we could afford. We estimated that our utility expenses would go up because we were moving from a very old 700sq apartment to a 2200sq ft. home - however - utilities actually went down because the home is so much newer and energy efficient than the old apartment! We did not, however, think about the cost of maintaining our large lawn - which has run us about $450 this year alone so far - and we didn't account for an alarm cost of about $40 a month either. Fortunately we are able to cover the costs because of the utilities being so much less than anticipated.
Good luck with this process - it looks like you are going about it in a sensible fashion!