The Hidden Costs of Homeownership

Most homeowners carefully review future bank loan and interest payments when buying a home. But many don’t take into account ongoing costs that come home with homeownership, such as taxes, home improvement and maintenance expenses, insurance premiums, and more.

Read on to find out more about the unexpected costs of homeownership and how you can best reduce them.

    Key Takeaways

  • The most expensive hidden costs of homeownership are property taxes, utilities, and larger home improvement, maintenance, and repair projects.
  • Saving money on hidden homeownership costs requires creativity and research; many grants and aid programs are available to homeowners who meet certain requirements.

Hidden Homeownership Costs

As a homeowner, you likely know how much you pay in loan and interest each month. While you might be able to refinance into a lower interest rate at some point in the future, those mortgage-related costs tend to stay about the same. But other costs may have been less obvious when you first bought your home, and they can wreak havoc on your budget if you haven’t planned for them.

Learn about the most common homeownership costs—and how to plan for them—in more detail, below.

Registation Fees

Registation fees are among the most expensive aspects of homeownership. The ratio of registation fees for real estate is 0.5%.

Your tax bill is based on the assessed fair market value of your home and land. Typically, that’s multiplied by the tax rate. Taxes can go up or down based on your property’s valuation, any special assessments, or property tax rate changes.

Cases in which real estate is exempt from registration fees

According to Clause 10, Article 10, Chapter III of Decree 10/2022/ND-CP signed on January 15, 2022 (effective from March 1, 2022), one of the cases eligible for registration fee exemption is: House or land inherited or given as a gift between: Wife and husband; natural father, natural mother with natural child; adoptive father, adoptive mother with adopted child; father-in-law, mother-in-law with daughter-in-law; father-in-law, mother-in-law with son-in-law; grandfather, grandmother with grandson; grandparents, grandmothers with grandchildren; Brothers, sisters and brothers are now granted certificates of land use rights and ownership of houses and other land-attached assets by a competent state agency.

Large Home Improvements

Large-scale home improvements that are considered capital expenditures are also among the biggest hidden homeownership costs, and often surprising to new homeowners.

Expenses of this kind often include urgent, necessary, or safety-related improvements or replacements, such as replacing a roof, which costs $10,000, on average. Homes sold at under-market prices could have more to fix, too.

Other expensive home projects include:

  • Replacing or upgrading water heaters and HVAC systems
  • Replacing siding or windows
  • Upgrading drains, plumbing, and electrical systems
  • Repairing a foundation

Tips for Reducing Large Home Improvement Costs

It’s important to understand the lifespans of your home’s major systems and features, which depend on materials, use, and exposure to elements. Budget for large-scale expenditures, and compare contractor bids to get the best price. Plan for any repairs and upgrades long in advance, so you don’t end up with an emergency that forces you to pay Sunday plumber prices, for example.

Utilities

Utilities bills of heating, cooling, water, and trash costs can fluctuate and get out of control very quickly. Utilities include:

  • Gas
  • Electricity
  • Fuel oil or other fuel
  • Trash and recycling collection
  • Water and sewer

Tips for Reducing the Cost of Utilities

Seek out ways to save money and resources at the same time. High water bills can spring from a leaky faucet or toilet, an inefficient showerhead, or a forgotten sprinkler. Contact your water utility provider for further money-saving tips for the home and garden.

Routine Maintenance and Repairs

Homeowners spent around $1,010 per year on average on routine maintenance and repairs. Routine home maintenance includes steps you take to prevent damage, such as painting your home’s exterior to protect against the elements. It might also include inspecting for pests, keeping your lawn green, or fixing a running toilet.

When preparing for these maintenance costs, remember that you’ll also likely need to purchase tools for the job, such as a rake for the lawn or power tools for home repairs.

Note

Routine maintenance and repairs isn’t the same as a whole-system upgrade. Those are far more expensive. However, maintaining your home’s envelope and systems can prevent rapid decline and may help stave off the need for a capital expenditure.

Tips for Reducing Routine Maintenance and Repair Costs

Familiarize yourself with home maintenance tasks and carry out home maintenance over the course of a year. This way, you can spread costs out. Then, try these approaches:

  • Instead of hiring someone to do minor repairs, gardening, and maintenance, take a class through your local community college or adult education center on common tasks so you can do them yourself.
  • Instead of buying the tool, visit a tool library. These tool libraries may be available through your city’s library or community-created organizations and may charge membership dues or a per-tool rental fee. You can search for a tool library.
  • Look for coupons and sales at local hardware and big-box stores. Sometimes you can get a discount when you subscribe to a store’s email mailing list.

Other Hidden Homeownership Costs

Some homeownership costs are discretionary or optional. You don’t have to spend money on some things, or you could choose less expensive items. As a result, homeowners don’t often consider these factors as contributing to monthly homeownership expenses:

  • Furnishings: Outfitting a home with furniture, window and floor coverings, and other materials can add up.
  • Services: You might hire someone for house cleaning or yard work or subscribe to a home security monitoring service.
  • Laundry, cleaning, and paper supplies: With a bigger house, you may run more laundry or require more cleaning supplies than if living in a smaller condo or apartment.

Tips for Reducing Other Hidden Homeownership Costs

To lower these expenses, you might try the following:

  • Shop in bulk for laundry, cleaning, and paper supplies.
  • Compare unit pricing and try out less-expensive household items like paper towels.
  • Shop for secondhand furnishings at reuse stores or online.
  • Trade services with neighbors—weeding for leaf cleanup, for example.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much should I save for unexpected home repairs?

There are a two ways to approach this amount:

  • Income-based: Generally, homeowners spent around 9.6% of their income on home improvement and maintenance.
  • Home value based: A common rule of thumb is to budget for a cost of 1% of the home’s purchase price each year.

However, those numbers are just a starting place. Your home repairs will vary based on environmental conditions, how well the house was or is maintained, and the age of building elements and appliances.

What monthly costs are included in homeownership?

Monthly costs included in homeownership can consist of:

  • Principal payment and interest
  • Utilities
  • Homeowners association fees
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Yard care
  • Pest control

You’ll also have expenses that come along occasionally, such as large home improvements and furniture. When creating a homeowner’s budget, you can cover these expenses in various ways. This might look like saving monthly for a new fridge or sofa, or creating a fund to cover monthly maintenance costs.

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