Buying a home is a daunting prospect for many, but it is a well-known truism that it is better to buy a home than rent one. When you rent a place, you are just throwing money away while buying a home is an investment that will hopefully pay off.
But that comforting logic starts to fall short when you consider the hidden costs of owning a home. Just as an individual moving out of his parents’ home must deal with responsibilities he never considered before – like cooking – a homeowner must consider additional costs and expenses that he did not have to worry about when renting. Here are five such expenses to consider and advice on how you can reduce their cost.
1. Home inspections
The first hidden costs show up before you even close a deal. You can take a look at the house all you want beforehand, but many lenders will require you to hire a professional home inspector before you sign. Even if the lender does not, you should hire one anyways. A professional home inspector can make sure that your home does not have any sudden surprises such as poor wiring or a termite infestation, and require that the seller fixes those problems.
Hiring a professional home inspector can cost a couple hundred dollars, but it can save you a great deal and prevent you from buying a faulty home. Just be prepared to eat the initial expense.
2. Closing costs
You inspected the home, found that everything is good, and have your offer accepted. Then you find out that you have to pay an additional few thousand dollars up front in the form of closing costs. Closing costs are additional fees such as escrow fees, attorney fees, and other expenses that are usually on the buyer. Zillow states that the average buyer pays about $3,700 in closing fees.
While it is not possible for a buyer to completely avoid these costs, it can be lowered. Shop around with multiple lenders to try and get the best deal on your mortgage and ask if the seller may be willing to cover some of the costs.
You may be able to get out of moving expenses if you have a wide cadre of friends willing to help you out and if your home is nearby. But the odds are that you are going to have to hire a moving company. If you rely on a professional moving company, then the average cost of moving out of state is over $4,000
If you are moving a long way and want to budget, then you can lower the costs by making sure you are only moving the essentials and possibly taking care of the move yourself with a U-Haul truck. But be prepared to pay a few extra thousand dollars for a clean move without chaos.
4. Maintaining your home and yard
One of the biggest changes towards owning a home is the fact that when something goes broke, it is on you and not the landlord to fix things. And there is always something that needs to be improved or fixed.
You may be willing to mow the lawn and take care of the yard work yourself. However, that still entails the cost of purchasing the necessary equipment yourself as well as the time needed to mow the lawn and so on. Then there are other expenses such as fixing your heating, air conditioning, and plumbing. While it is possible to handle issues like this if you really know what you are doing, it is just as likely that you burst a main and lose far more money in the resulting repair costs.
You do not want to skimp on home repairs if you want to uphold its value, so budget a certain amount of money every year for repairs. There are a few guides for how much to save, but you should generally be looking to save something around one percent of the home’s value every year.
5. Property Taxes
Death, taxes, you know the saying. But what you may not know is that your mortgage’s monthly bill will also account for property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. This is especially true if you’re looking to earn an investment with a 1031 exchange property. If you use an escrow account, which is required if your down payment is less than 20 percent of the home’s value, then you don’t pay your property taxes directly. Instead, you send your money to a mortgage company who pays your taxes for you. And there is also the scenario where you can be hit with a payment for a couple months’ worth of property taxes right when you move in.
Dealing with property taxes can be incredibly confusing and varies from area to area. The best advice is to be prepared and talk with your mortgage company about how much you will have to pay as well as any potential surprises.
Featured photo credit: Moyan Benn via flickr.com