6 hidden costs of being a homeowner


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You’re ready to be a homeowner. You’ve researched homeowner expenses and know the horror stories of furnaces kicking it in the dead of winter and air conditioners going cold in August. You’ve budgeted for these and other surprise expenses, such as closing costs, inspections and taxes.

But have you properly planned for the one-time upfront costs, or hidden costs that most realtors, banks and even other homeowners rarely mention? These costs can easily be overlooked and could cause some serious budget strain if you ignore them until the last minute. But, if you include these expenses in your homeowner budget now, you’ll save yourself patience and money you didn’t know you could lose. Here are some things to think about. 

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1. Turning your house into a home

Buying a house is one thing. Turning a house into a home is another.

While you may love your current furniture and home decorations in your current place, you may not in your new place. Your floor plan will be different. The lighting will change. You may not find the same shade of paint from your current place that perfectly matches that loveseat you love.

Depending on where you live and the size of your new home, expect to pay an average of $6,649 on annual homemaking improvements, according to HomeAdvisor’s 2018 True Cost Report. A “homemaking” line item should be included in your budget like any other expense, and it’s an expense many new homeowners forget or let emotions dictate.

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2. Regular maintenance

When a new homeowner learns that time-intensive services like landscaping average $3,538, they often assume the responsibility of these household chores to save on homeowner expenses. The problem is that even at night and on weekends your time is money.

What will you give up to manicure your yard and then maintain your landscaping? With the few hours you have to spare each week, how long will it take you to replace the old wiring in your new house? Even if you do some projects, what will you pay to have a professional fix your mistakes?

Many homeowners are capable of doing and enjoy doing such projects, but many aren’t and don’t. The questions to ask yourself is what kind of lifestyle do you want, and will this new house give it to you?

A rule of thumb is to set aside 1% to 3% of your home’s value for annual maintenance. The less capable or willing you are of doing maintenance yourself, the closer to 3% you should be setting aside.

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3. Emergencies

It’s critical to have between $500 to $1,000 minimum in an emergency savings account. The problem is, 47% of Americans can’t afford a $400 emergency of any kind and this puts many American homeowners at risk.

Create a plan to save between three to six month’s worth of living expenses that include everything from homeowner expenses to grocery and auto expenses. Aggressively save your emergency fund, then set up regular, automatic payments into a savings account.

Whether you can save $20 a month of $200 a month, you’ll reach your goal sooner than you think. If you need it, you’ll have the peace of mind you have it.

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5. Homeowners insurance

Should an accident occur, such as hail damage or someone driving into your garage door, you’ll want homeowner’s insurance to cover the bulk of your expenses. That said, you’ll want to make sure you have enough to add the expense of homeowners insurance to your budget each month, which people often forget.

Aside from your regular payments, it’s also good to plan for your deductible. Be sure you can fund your end of your coverage so you’re not responsible for all of the damage.

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6. Increases in property taxes

Property tax assessments and calculations vary by state. After an assessment, it can take up to three years for newly assessed values to be calculated into your property tax.

This means, if your property’s value is assessed at the peak of a housing bubble, it may not be reflected in your taxes for up to three years. If a recession happens during those three years, you should still expect your property taxes to increase.

Always plan on your property taxes increasing until and unless you receive written notice otherwise from your state.

These are just some homeowner expenses that many homeowners tend to skip over in their initial budgets. Now that you know to include them in yours, you’ll be the money-smart homeowner you know you can be.

This article originally appeared on Policygenius and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.