Owning your first house is an important milestone, but it's also a very expensive one. Without proper planning, the expenses racked up in the process of buying your first home may extinguish any savings you have. In order to be ready for anything, use these common oversights that many first-time homebuyers make.
The home inspection
As Luke Mullins of U.S. News and World Report points out, home inspections may be the most crucial (and most overlooked) expense of all. Knowing the issues of a house or property before you buy may not only tip you off to what repairs lie ahead, but could also be used to negotiate a lower price with the current owners. This will be the biggest and most important purchase of your life, so don't let the minor cost of a home inspection lead you into a trap. Home inspectors are experts at sniffing out even the most miniscule defects and potential pain points in a home, and may be your biggest ally when it comes to getting you the price you need, as well as the home you deserve.
The true cost of ownership
It's generally a good idea to get pre-approved for a home loan before making the move, that amount is often quite high. Realtor.com cautions against taking advantage of the full pre-approval amount, because this can often mean putting an unnecessarily large percentage of your monthly income toward mortgage payments. The general rule of thumb for mortgages is to keep housing costs at 30 percent or less of your monthly income. Over that amount, you may be entering risky territory and have trouble saving enough to live comfortably. In order to shop for a smart home purchase, consider what you really need, not what the home of your dreams would have. Remember, this is only your first home and it doesn't need to be your last, nor are you stuck with what you have forever. Look for less bedrooms, smaller closet space or consider doing without a dining room in order to trim the fat on home purchases.
Insurance is hardly the extra expense some make it out to be. It is absolutely essential and will likely save you money in the long run, especially when it comes to an asset as vital as your home. When moving from an apartment to a house, you may be tempted to just stick with your renter's insurance company and upgrade to their homeowner policy. According to Consumer Reports, homeowners could save thousands of dollars by shopping around for the best deals. To do this, they first suggest taking advantage of your state's insurance monitoring departments, which will list standard insurance plans and rate them based on their strengths. California, Florida, New Jersey, New York and Texas are just a few states that offer programs like this. You could also contact an independent insurance agent, who sells insurance from multiple providers. These agents may be able to find you a better deal for your money.
Landscaping and yard care
One common oversight among many first-time homebuyers: Your yard needs time and money as well. Don't neglect to purchase some basic yard care appliances, including a lawn mower, rakes, a sprinkler and other essentials. Realtor.com warns against falling prey to expensive lawn care services. Unless you have the extra money to throw around, or absolutely no free time, it's probably much cheaper to do these tasks yourself.
As well as taking care of your new lawn, you may be tempted to outfit it with the latest and greatest landscaping design trends. You should definitely hold off on this for a while while you settle into your new home. According to HomeAdvisor.com, homeowners end up spending about $3,200 on average for landscaping projects. A new patio could cost as much as $3,000, while just laying sod averages over $1,700. While they do add value and glamor to your property, these costs are far from essential and should be delayed until you have adequate savings. The costs of home ownership can easily and quickly become overwhelming without the execution of a financial plan.