With mortgage rates still at historical (and historic) lows, there’s a very neat way of looking at what that means for buyers: They can buy 11% more home this year than last year.

That’s using Freddie Mac’s most recent mortgage rate survey — 3.62% for a 30-year fixed loan, which is down from 4.60% in 2011.

As Dan Green explains

Assuming a principal + interest mortgage payment of $1,000 per month on a 30-year term, today’s home buyers can buy 11% “more home” as compared to 12 months ago.

  • July 2011 : Each $1,000 payment affords a maximum loan size of $197,130
  • July 2012 : Each $1,000 payment affords a maximum loan size of $219,409

That extra 11% can mean a lot of things. It can be an extra bathroom; an extra bedroom; a series of upgraded finishes. It could even mean a home on a different street, or with a different-sized lot.