This is the third article in a three-part blog series designed to educate you on budgeting for your first home.
Buying a home takes much more financial capacity than saving up for your down payment, or being able to afford your monthly mortgage. There are myriad additional costs that come along with the pride of homeownership, including ongoing (monthly) expenses, annual expenses—and dreaded emergency expenses.
These unexpected costs of homeownership are one of the reasons why more and more people are turning to leasing. Leasing provides increased stability and financial flexibility, since you’re only dealing with one monthly payment, versus a slew of unpredictable costs.
Landscaping: We’re not talking about just mowing the lawn. If you’re considering doing some major landscaping—putting in sod, plants, trees, patio, gravel, a pool—you’re easily looking at a few thousand dollars to more than $50,000. It will all depend on what you have done. Yet, even seemingly simple and budget-friendly landscaping requires days of manual labor, grading, supplies and sprinkler updates or installations. And, beware: if you’re looking at a new-build home, you’re likely starting from scratch (as in, you may be working with a dirt lot), which will only increase your expenses as you have no foundation to work with.
Upgrades: You may have the picture of your perfect house in your head—but what will it take to get there from a cost perspective? Upgrades are difficult to avoid, no matter the age of your home. If you’re considering a new build, keep in mind that the bells and whistles you see in home models and websites are not included in the base price of your new home; each is an additional line-item cost. This may include countertops, crown molding, window seats, hardware, you name it.
If you’re moving into anything from a slightly older home to a total fixer-upper, upgrades are a given. Be sure to budget as much as you can for these, as you’ll likely want to do many of them up front, before you get settled. This may include upgrades like new carpet, new cabinets, new paint, canned lighting and more. Upgrades—and finding the home that fits the image you’ve been dreaming of in your head—may be one of the most challenging aspects of finding a home you can truly be happy with.
Big Ticket Repairs: These are inevitable and difficult to predict. You may wake up one morning to discover that you have no hot water—and that you need to completely replace your water heater. Again, this could be $500 to $5,000. Don’t forget installation costs! Your dishwasher may fail you one day. Things such as pipes bursting, new refrigerators, exterior paint—these are all inevitable expenses. You can put some of them off for a while (paint), however, it’s up to you to decide how long you’re happy without hot water. Fold in some wiggle room within your monthly budget to save for them.
Natural Disasters: Flooding. Earthquakes. These events are 100% out of your control. Thankfully, you do have insurance to fall back on for many of these, but don’t make assumptions. Check your coverage and check your limits to see what is and isn’t covered. You don’t want to wait until an emergency occurs to read the fine print.
Do any of these costs surprise you? And, are you prepared to take these on if you buy a home?