a long-term commitment to a city, you have job stability, and you’ve done all the things first-time buyers need to do before they jump in to owning a home, like cleaning up your credit score, finding a lender, and getting pre-approved for a loan. You’ve probably crunched the numbers, budgeted for the big and little things, and feel pretty good about how much money you’ll be spending on your home in the next few years. But most first-time homebuyers end up paying more than they originally budgeted because of expenses they hadn’t considered. Jennifer Ortman, a real-estate agent with The Maple Group in Chautauqua, New York, details three hidden costs of homeownership that most novice buyers don’t consider.
Even if you fall in love with the house’s appearance during the buying process, once you settle in you’re bound to find something you want to change. Maybe your couch looks too ratty now that it’s in the new living room, or maybe your bed doesn’t fill out the bedroom enough. Maybe the lawn needs a little sprucing up, or a few trees need to be planted in the backyard for privacy. Things you never had to worry about when you lived in an apartment, like landscaping, suddenly become top priority. And the need for new furniture is magnified if you’re moving into a space much larger than your last dwelling—like moving into a two-bedroom home after living in a studio apartment.
When you’re a homeowner, you can’t run to a landlord every time a sink leaks, a toilet overflows or a pipe bursts. Now that you own your own home you are the landlord, and Jennifer Ortman says all that continuing maintenance can really add up. And if you think keeping things inside the house is going to be costly, keeping the outside of the house maintained can be even more expensive. If you’ve moved from an apartment, you probably never had to worry about outside maintenance, but now you have to mow the lawn, clean the gutters, repair the roof, pull the weeds, plant and water the flowers, trim the hedges, and more. This is even more costly if you don’t have the tools needed to do these things, which is likely if you’re moving from an apartment or another small space without much of an exterior property.
As a renter, you may not have been responsible for one or any of your utilities, such as gas, water or electricity. As a homeowner you pay for all of these things, on top of other costs such as cable and internet. According to Jennifer Ortman, utilities are one of the costs most homeowners forget about, because they’ve never really been responsible for them before. In addition to having to pay for all of your utilities, you also have to maintain them, meaning you’re responsible for the heating and air-conditioning systems, along with the electrical system. Faulty wiring? Old furnace? Air-conditioner on the fritz? The costs can really add up.
Jennifer Ortman is a real estate professional based out of Chautauqua County, New York. She is a member of the National Association of Realtors and specializes in property management and residential sales.