Hidden Costs That Surprise First Time Homebuyers

You think you’re ready to purchase your first home. You’ve taken careful consideration of mortgage rates, your monthly income, and have definitive budget in place. You’re ready to begin your home search and jump at the chance of making an initial offer once you find your dream home. But as professional realtors and seasoned home buyers know, there is much more to purchasing a new home than down payments, taxes, and mortgage payments. Don’t let these extra costs derail your decision and get in the way of your future.

Young Couple Standing Outside House

Closing Costs
These range from appraisal, inspection, and attorney fees to title insurance. Though the exact amounts may vary depending on location, the rule of thumb is to equate closing costs to approximately 2-5% of the home cost.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
Usually, a home buyer only needs to worry about this if the down payment is less than 20%. PMI protects your lender in case you default. Depending on the size of your down payment and credit score, PMI will range between 0.3% and 1.5% of mortgage. Luckily, once you’ve paid off your mortgage and owe less than 78% of the purchase price, you can drop the PMI payments.

Property Taxes
Like most of the hidden fees, property taxes vary by location. They vary widely, and can be up to 4.2% of the value of a home. It is important to research the taxes included with the cost of living with each potential home. Taxes may vary by cities, towns, neighborhoods, and school districts.

Homeowners Association (HOA)
Not all home buyers will need to worry about these costs, but if you plan on living in a condo or certain neighborhoods, you need to include these fees in your monthly budget. The HOA fees cover extra luxuries such as maintaining public use spaces, landscaping, community pools and other amenities. Fees can be as low as $15 per month but may go into the thousands. Be sure to ask about these fees when a property interests you.

Moving Costs
Though this may be a one-time fee, it can definitely put a dent in your budget. Depending on how far you move, how much furniture you have or new furniture you need to buy, truck rentals, and hiring movers, the costs will quickly add up.

Extra Homeowners Insurance
You won’t be able to be approved for a mortgage without initial insurance to cover the property, but standard insurances may not cover the unexpected damage natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes may cause.

Utilities
Moving from a small apartment to a 2,400 square foot home? Have you considered the increase in cost of electricity, heating, cooling, and other utilities? If you’re moving across country or to a different state, research the climate of the region. Check out the monthly temperature averages to decide how long (or short) each season will be.

Renovations
Perhaps at first you think your new house is move-in ready, but once you settle in you start to notice a loose floorboard, a leaky faucet, an inexplicably cold room, or having one bathroom just isn’t manageable after all. Keep an extra budget on the side for miscellaneous expenses that cover unexpected renovations that need to be done before you can call this new house your home

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