When budgeting for a home, there are many costs first-time buyers may not think about. Unfortunately, buying a home isn't simply about sending a rent check to a mortgage lender instead of a landlord. Buyers need to remember that they have a lot more than monthly mortgage payments to take into account when figuring out just how much home they can afford.
Extra costs before closing
Before it is even time to move in, there are many costs associated with buying a home in addition to the actual price of the property:
1. The down payment
A 20 percent down payment is the standard rate, though having 20 percent of your home's value on hand is by no means a prerequisite for purchasing a home. It is possible to get a loan with a far lower down payment, but the San Francisco Chronicle explained that a lower down payment means a higher monthly interest rate. The more you can pay up front, the less you will have to pay later on.
2. Closing costs
Closing costs are one of the largest additional fees buyers will face before the purchase is final. According to Time, closing costs are usually between 2 and 5 percent of a home's purchase price. They include survey fees, inspection fees, title insurance and more.
There are, however, a few ways to bring closing costs down. According to Redfin, it is possible the seller will be willing to cover some of the closing costs, so buyers should make sure to address this possibility during negotiations. In addition, it is important to shop around for different loans, as each lender will charge different fees. Redfin also said cheaper homes incur less closing costs.
3. A home inspection
Most buyers will want to get a home inspection before committing to the purchase of a home. A home inspection is one cost that is well worth it, as it could end up saving the buyer money later on. Once any major and minor issues are discovered in a home, the buyer has the opportunity to negotiate with the seller to determine if the seller will cover the costs of certain repairs.
U.S. News and World Report also recommended paying for a specialized home inspection as well to check for pests like termites. Again, detecting these problems before a deal closes gives the buyer an opportunity to get more money from the seller.
U.S. News and World Report suggested asking for information from sellers regarding their average utility costs per month before making a final decision, as utility costs can really add up.
Extra costs once the home is owned
Once you have taken care of the pre-purchase costs, there are still many monthly and annual fees for which you will need to budget. In association with Thumbtack, a website that connects consumers with service professionals, Zillow conducted a study to determine how much American homeowners spend on their homes every year. The study found the national average to be $6,042 per year, though in Boston, the most expensive city to own a home, the annual costs surpass $9,000.
In addition to mortgage payments, there are several costs of homeownership factored into these numbers:
1. Monthly housing payments
Zillow explained that there are four major elements that make up a monthly housing payment: principal (your mortgage payment), mortgage interest rate, taxes and insurance.
On average, property taxes will cost about 1.2 percent of the price of the home every year. Insurance fees will vary, as the homeowner gets to select his or her own insurance. It is not optional, though. Anyone with a mortgage must have homeowners insurance, and it must meet specific qualifications. U.S. News and World Report said depending on the location of the property, buyers may also want to purchase supplemental insurance to protect their homes from common natural disasters in the area. In addition, Zillow added if a buyer paid less than 20 percent for a down payment, he or she will also be required to obtain mortgage insurance.
Interest rates alone can add up to shockingly large amounts. The Chronicle said that over the lifetime of a 30-year loan a buyer could end up paying more than the original price of the home in interest.
2. Home maintenance
Once a home is owned, the buyer is responsible for all upkeep and repairs. Buyers should make sure to account for these costs when considering which home to purchase.
"Home buyers too often fixate on the sticker price or monthly mortgage payment on a house, and don't budget for the other expenses associated with ownership - which can add up quickly," Amy Bohutinsky, Zillow's chief marketing officer, explained in the study. She uses the example of a large backyard, which buyers often become excited about without thinking about the maintenance costs.
Thumbtack's data suggested the most common outsourced maintenance tasks are gutter cleaning, carpet cleaning, house cleaning and pressure washing. Together, these cost an average of $3,435 per year.
When considering the costs of home maintenance, U.S. News and World Report explained how all of those situations in which people are used to calling a landlord for assistance will now be the responsibility of the buyer to deal with on his own.
A home inspection is a great way to determine how much initial maintenance a home will require.
3. Association fees
U.S. News and World Report also discussed the fees associated with living in a condominium or a single-family development. These types of housing often require residents to pay homeowner's association fees as well as fees associated with maintenance in communal areas.