Buying a home is undoubtedly an exciting time in a person’s life. Whether it’s your first time being a homeowner or an art you’re practiced at, it’s an accomplishment to be celebrated! But for the newbie and veteran alike, the glowing ideal of that fresh abode can sometimes give us blinders—especially when it comes to the finances. Let’s talk about the 10 costs of owning a home you should think about.
#1 Property Taxes
This isn’t one that is going to surprise many of you, but did you know that the bank is not the one who determines property tax? Nope, it’s the city or county!
That means that if you’re buying a home in a new area, this cost could be quite different than it was the last time you bought. Depending on where you’re moving from and to, you could see property tax that goes up or down by as much as a full percentage.
#2 Homeowner Association Fees
Ah, the infamous HOA! Here’s the thing, homeowners’ associations are the driving force behind the beauty of high-end neighborhoods. The truth is that while they may feel like a nagging annoyance to some owners, that is exactly why they are needed. The homeowners who don’t like the HOA are usually the same ones who will let their yard get out of control if they aren’t being monitored. And while there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with an overgrown lawn, the pristine appearance of residential areas that are deemed “affluent” (and thus have ever-growing home values) is in part owed to the mower.
All of that to say that if you love how an area looks and that is part of why you want to buy a home there, you shouldn’t baulk at the inclusion of an HOA fee. What you should do, however, is be prepared to pay it! Factor it into your budget and consider it a part of the home’s price.
Also be aware that HOA fees can go up over time and if a special project, like redesigning the tennis courts or installing a new pool system, is voted into action, you might have to shell out for that, too.
#3 Homeowners’ Insurance
Again, this one isn’t a big shock to any of you. Still, there are certain factors that can influence how expensive this becomes.
If you live in an area that is known to experience a lot of damage from natural disasters (think hurricanes in Florida or tornadoes in Kansas), you’re probably going to be shelling out much more for homeowners’ insurance than someone in a place that has never had a natural disaster wreak any sort of havoc.
Your deductible and selected coverage amount will of course also influence the premium price, but again, places that are prone to damage will demand better coverage. You’ll also want to be careful about selecting a high deductible to save. Because you’re probably going to have to cash in at some point.
A home’s age and condition plays into insurance costs too—and also many other things, which brings us to our next point.
#4 The Roof
Yes, the dreaded roof. For so many homeowners, the roof is a perfect representation of hidden costs.
It can be surprisingly expensive to replace and, depending on the reason it’s needed, might not be covered by insurance. You definitely want to have an inspector examine this carefully before you buy a home. In fact, some realtors recommend getting two opinions from two unique inspectors specifically for the roof (although this could be a good idea for an old home in general).
Remember that the roof is a non-negotiable. You can’t live with a giant hole in it. Not only will it dim your quality of life, but it could cause irreparable damage to other parts of the home’s interior and foundation.
If you plan to be a homeowner, you need to be prepared to pay for roof fixes and replacements.
#5 Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
This is slightly less essential than the roof, but it is more fickle—and who wants to live without heat in winter and air in summer? Ventilation, too, only increases in importance. A well-ventilated home with proper heating and cooling enables you to create a safe, optimal environment for your health.
And as pretty much anyone probably knows, these systems have a tendency to break more often than other things within the home. Why? Well, we do ask a lot of them, running them relentlessly during certain seasons.
You will undoubtedly be paying for maintenance and replacement of some part of the HVAC system if you own a home for more than a few years, but you can often get repairs and updates built into the cost of a home. For this reason, it is very important to focus on this, too, when you’re going through inspections.
#6 Electrical and Plumbing
Historic home lovers, this one is for you. When it comes to the everyday costs of owning a home, these are two that will be extra relevant for you.
We completely understand the appeal of a gorgeous old home full of legacy. But just know that you might have some unusual and ongoing problems to deal with when it comes to electrical and plumbing.
Since many older homes were built before the invention of modern electrical systems, they can feature some weird problems. Odd wiring situations can result in flickering lights, tripped breakers, outlets that are dangerously hot to the touch, and more. The same idea goes for the plumbing. There is a reason builders start with the pipes when they construct a new home. A plumbing layout can only be optimally planned when nothing else is already in the way. In the case of older homes, plumbers probably just came in and did the best they could with the circumstances. This could result in major backups and issues down the road.
Of course, anyone in any home can have electrical and plumbing problems, which is why, again, inspections are key and you should ideally have a budget set aside for any unexpected issues that arise. But if you’re in an older home, these tidbits of advice are even more relevant!
#8 Termites and Pest Control
If you live in an area that is prone to termite problems, you’ve likely already had this top of mind when thinking about whether or not you can afford the costs of owning a home. But what many people fail to consider is other forms of pest control. No matter where you live, you’ll probably need to pay for some type of it!
From spraying to lessen mosquito numbers to keeping destructive bugs out of your garden or discouraging mice to take up residence in your attic, some form of pest control will be necessary for any homeowner. And these things add up!
They certainly aren’t the most expensive part of owning a home, but they do result in usually monthly costs you’ll need to think about. As does our next item on the list!
#9 Landscaping and Lawn Care
Remember when we were talking about that messy lawn the HOA loathes? Well, if your lifestyle doesn’t enable you to take up the mowing on your own, you’ll want to factor a maintenance company’s monthly payment into your budget.
Even if you don’t have an HOA encouraging pristine lawn and garden schemes, you’ll need to participate in some maintenance. Why? Because a truly out-of-control landscape can create the perfect environment for rodents, snakes, and other critters to breed prolifically. And that means that eventually, they’ll probably begin to intrude on your four walls (return to #8)!
#10 Home Appliances
We saved this one for last because it is one of the less frequent and more negotiable costs of owning a home. Many people either buy homes that come with all new appliances or choose to upgrade their suites right when they move in, so most homeowners aren’t going to have to replace anything (except for the occasional “lemon”) in the first decade or so in a home. But of course, if your appliances weren’t new at the time of purchase, that time frame changes!
The good thing about appliances is that some of them also don’t have to be your first financial priority. You can’t live with a hole-filled roof, but you can live without a dishwasher. That said, you probably don’t want to.
We think it’s a great idea to tack on an extra chunk of change for the purpose of appliance repairs and replacements!
There you have it, 10 costs of owning a home you should think about!
But you may be left wondering, “How do I figure out how much money to set aside for each category?” Well, it’s certainly worthwhile to sit down and do some research specific to your home and area’s circumstances, but experts do have a general rule of thumb!
Set aside between 1% and 3% of your home’s value each year for maintenance. For the sake of example, that would mean keeping between $6,000 and $18,000 tucked away if you purchased your home for $600,000.
It’s unlikely that you’ll spend that much every year. But when the roof needs replacing and insurance won’t cover it, you could be out upwards of $20,000. Saving that amount each year helps to keep you covered now and as time goes on. It will build into a significant junk you can rely on!
Here’s one more good tip: If you do find yourself saving that fund each year, invest it. Make more money off of it but ensure you can withdrawal it if needed—that’s a win win!