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10 Costs of Homeownership (That You Haven’t Considered)

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First of all, congrats! If you are reading this, then you are probably in the market for a home. I was in the same position as you earlier this year. And so I began the search for resources in order to assist me on my journey to homeownership.

I was looking for a checklist, you know, something to tell me how to prepare. That’s why I created these 5 steps to prepare for your first home purchase.

After I knew I was ready to buy a home, I wanted something else that showed me all the fees and costs associated with home ownership compared to apartment dwelling.  I couldn’t find anything anywhere that detailed all of the costs of homeownership.  That’s why I created this list.

If you are like me then you have been on Zillow and other similar sites looking at the prices of homes, and the associated monthly payments. The amounts shown on Zillow make it seem like you can afford a lot more than you may have previously thought. I am here to let you know that Zillow and other similar sites don’t cover a lot of the major costs associated with home ownership.

  • The estimates include paying 20% for your down payment (which I encourage but may not be feasible for everyone).
  • The estimates include the lowest interest rate possible; and therefore, perfect credit on your part and a sizable down payment.

In addition, there are other things to consider when purchasing your first home. Check out these 10 hidden (and some not so hidden) costs of homeownership!

homeownership

 

Earnest Money

Earnest money is put down when you are interested in buying a home. It lets the owner know that you are serious about the purchase. Earnest money could be as little as $500-1000 or as much as 2-3% of the offer amount. When you find a home that you are interested in and ready to make an offer, be prepared to put down your earnest money soon after.

Personally, my earnest money was $1000.  I ended up writing a check for the earnest money 2 days after I told my realtor that I was ready to make an offer.

 

House Inspection

A house inspection happens after you have put an offer on the home and paid your earnest money.  Home inspections evaluate the physical condition including its construction, safety, and mechanical systems.  Although not required under most circumstances, home inspections are strongly recommended.  A home inspection can alert you to serious or even minor issues which may also give you bargaining power when determining the final home price.

On average, a home inspection is $400.  For my home inspection in March, I paid about $325.  There was a minor issue with one of the windows which I required the sellers fix prior to the closing.

 

PMI/MI

PMI is private mortgage insurance.  When getting a conventional loan, PMI is required if your down payment is less than 20% of the appraised or sale price of the home.  PMI can go away once you have 20% equity in your home.

Similarly, MI or mortgage insurance is required for borrowers who obtain FHA loans and put a down payment down of less than 20%.  Unfortunately, mortgage insurance is tied to you for the remainder of the loan period (unless you refinance your home loan at a later date).

 

Closing Costs

Closing costs are fees paid at the closing of a real estate transaction.  Examples of closing costs include mortgage application fees, home warranties, title service costs and more.  Typically, home buyers will pay between 2-5% of the purchase price of their home in closing costs.  According to a recent survey, homebuyers pay about $3700 in closing costs. The good news is that most times the seller of the home will pay the closing costs on behalf of the buyer.

 

Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance is a form of property insurance to protect an individual’s home against damages to the house itself, or to possessions to the home.  It typically also provides liability coverage against accidents in the home or the property.  Although homeowners insurance is not required, if you received a loan, the lender may require homeowners insurance.

 

HOA Fees

HOA (or homeowners association fees) are required by many housing editions and condominium associations.  Depending on the association, the HOA fees may very as well as what is included with the fees.  For example, for condos the HOA fees typically cover the entire outside of the dwelling from lawn to snow care as well as exterior painting and roof maintenance.

For certain condominium associates, the HOA fees can be as high as $200-400 a month whereas certain housing editions may be as low as $100 per month.  My HOA fees are currently $75 per quarter.

 

Lawn care/Snow Removal

After apartment dwelling for so long, I became accustomed to having someone else mow the grass and shovel the snow.  Unless you opt for condominium dwelling, lawn care and snow removal becomes your responsibility.  Ultimately, you can hire someone to take care of the lawn care or snow removal or you can take care of it yourself.  In an effort to be financially fit, I have decided cut my own lawn and shovel my own grass.

Although it did require an investment into the proper tools, I know it will pay for itself after a season or two.

 

Increased Bills

Is the home you’re scoping out larger than your current residence? Is it standalone versus being in an enclosed surroundings? Were you paying for things like water, sewer, and trash? All those additional bills need to be considered when purchasing a home.

My home is only a few hundred square feet larger than my previous apartment; however, I now have a host of additional bills.  For example, I now have a monthly security alarm bill.

 

Other Incidentals

Renting an apartment or home from someone else can be a sweet deal. If the air conditioning malfunctions or there’s a bug infestation, you can call your landlord to take care of it. It’s typically timely and there is no out of pocket cost to you.

Homeownership is drastically different in this respect. If something breaks, then it is completely on you to get it repaired. Although you may have a home warranty to lower some of the costs, it still is an additional bill.

That is why it’s so imperative to have a fully funded emergency fund outside of your downpayment.  You want to be prepared to financially handle emergencies as they come up.

 

Opportunity Cost

Ultimately, the biggest thing to consider is the opportunity cost of buying. That house is yours until it’s sold. That comes with less flexibility than renting.

For example, say you land your dream job across the country. While renting, you can just tell your landlord and pay a fee to break your lease. When you own a property, you have to find a renter or sell the property.

  • With a renter, you want to ensure that they are reliable to pay the rent on time. If not, you are stuck with that mortgage payment since your name is actually on the property.
  • In order to sell the property, you have to ensure it’s in good condition as well as find a qualified buyer. Although you can find a real estate agent to assist, that comes at an additional price. Typically, selling your home can cost 6% of the selling price – 3% to your broker and 3% to the buyer’s broker.

It’s so important to outline the opportunity cost because many first time home buyers assume they’ll be able to sell their property right away for a large gain. However, that’s not always the case.

For the homeowners reading this, are there any costs of home ownership that I may have missed that you’d like to add?

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Tia Chambers

Tia is a freelance writer for hire. She's passionate about empowering millennials to reach financial freedom through her site, Financially Fit & Fab. The site focuses on personal finance education regarding budgeting, saving, investing and having fun on a budget.

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