The secret costs of owning a home
When buying a home, most people think about the mortgage, along with insurance and taxes, which are generally all bundled together into one payment. Those are the numbers your lender will use to consider whether you can repay the loan. But they're not the only expenses you need to prepare for.
The average homeowner in the United States spends approximately $2,000 per year on maintenance services according to a new survey from Bankrate.com. Over 6-in-10 homeowners (63%) use at least one recurring maintenance provider (think lawn care, cleaning services, etc.), and 35% use two or more.
"These figures illustrate the hidden costs of homeownership, and it's important to note they don't include repairs such as a broken refrigerator, washing machine or air conditioner," said Bankrate.com analyst Taylor Tepper in a press release. "These are just ongoing, routine tasks like keeping your house and yard clean. Make sure to factor these costs into your new budget when you buy a house. Or do them yourself to save thousands of dollars each year."
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Where is the money going?
Some of the costs listed on the survey, like homeowner's association (HOA) dues, aren't negotiable. You can't opt out or do the work yourself to get out of paying. That's a cost a home buyer should understand before purchasing a home. Many of the other expenses on the list are either things many people give little thought, or areas where people assume they will do it themselves.
- Average monthly spending:
- Housekeeping ($285),
- HOA dues ($210)
- Landscaping ($144)
- Home security system ($130)
- Pool care ($123)
- Snow removal ($84)
- Septic service ($67)
- Private trash/recycling collection ($55).
The most common expenses were private trash/recycling programs which 29% of homeowners pay for, and landscaping at 27%. Use of these services tends to increase as people get older and increase their income, according to the study of 2,218 people, of which 1,365 were homeowners.
Only 37% of renters spent many on any of the above tasks. People who rent spend approximately $550 a year on these services, led by 20% who pay for private trash/recycling, 13% who pay for landscaping services, and 7% who hire housekeepers.
What can you do?
Don't go into buying a home without doing your research. HOA fees should be disclosed. The rest of the services on this list can be inquired about, and most home sellers will provide recent bills or an estimate of what they spend.
It's also important to do an honest assessment of yourself. You may talk yourself into the idea that you will maintain your own lawn to justify the purchase, but ask yourself if you will actually do it long-term.
None of these costs should come as a surprise to a potential homeowner. Do your research, talk with the seller, and create a real budget that includes all your recurring monthly expenses.