Are you buying your first home? If so, then congratulations! You have saved for the down payment. You have made it through the loan approval process. You survived the closing and now you have your keys and are ready to move in. But are you prepared for the real costs of home ownership? There are quite a few hidden costs of owning a home that new buyers forget to factor into their budget. Here are a few of the big ones.
It can be a real challenge for a first-time homeowner to scrounge up 20 percent for a down payment. Often they opt for a FHA loan that only requires a minimum of 3.5% down. While this may look like it will save you money, it can cost hundreds each month. Mortgage insurance, which is paid on loans with equity less than 20 percent, will annually cost 0.05 to 1.5 percent of the original loan value. Let’s say the loan is for $150,000 and you went with FHA who charges a PMI of 1.5%. You will need to pay $187.50 extra, in addition to your mortgage payment, each and every month from here on out. Ouch!
Homeowner’s Insurance and Property Taxes
You need property insurance and you have to pay real estate taxes. Most likely your mortgage company is going to require that you make escrow payments each month. What is more, they will want to make sure you will have enough in the account to cover the bill when it comes due, plus a little extra. That means that you may end up paying slightly more than 1/12th of the annual costs. Your annual property taxes are most likely going to be 1 to 2 percent of your home’s value. Don’t forget to add that into your monthly budget.
Repairs and Maintenance
Renting was so easy. When the faucet leaked, you called the landlord. When a breaker burnt out, you called the landlord. When the furnace died, you called the landlord. Well, now you get to call the repairman and you get to pay the bill. Even if you do the repairs yourself, buying this and that for the house can add up to hundreds of dollars each and every month.
It is a good idea to set up a budget amount each month and to not exceed it. If a repair or renovation project will exceed the monthly budget, you might want to save for it rather than grabbing the credit card.
While you may have been content with keeping the grass cut at the last house you rented, now that you own a house, landscaping seems so much more fun. Be prepared for the upfront investment and the frequent maintenance as well as buying all the equipment to go with it.
Speaking of equipment, if you live where there is snow, you will have to decide if you want to pay for snow removal or handle it yourself. Depending on the length of your driveway, removing the snow could create the need for a plow truck or a fancy snow blower. ‘Cha-Ching!’
Filling the House
Now we are not just talking about decorating (be prepared to spend hundreds on window treatments, by the way), but things like a new fridge, stove, microwave, washer or dryer. How about furnishings? Will your old Goodwill sofa fill the new larger-than-life living room?
If you have not been responsible for outfitting a house, the little items that are necessary to live can quickly add up. We are talking about items like silverware, glasses, spices and seasonings, cooking staples, towels, pots and pans and cleaning supplies, just to name a few.
Owning a home creates a sense of security and personal pride, but it typically will cost more each month than what you were paying in rent. (Though in the long-term, the increasing value more than makes up for this!) While you can prepare for some of the initial moving costs, creating and sticking to a budget will help make sure you do not get in over your head and it will help you to enjoy your new home even more.