The hidden costs of homeownership

Congratulations, you’re about to become a homeowner. Buying a home is a wonderful and fulfilling step -- there is a sense of satisfaction in owning that roof over your head. If you were previously renting, you’re probably thrilled that your mortgage payment is not much more than your rent was, and it’s tax-deductible. But now you’ve got a leaky toilet and no landlord to complain to. Welcome to the hidden costs of homeownership.

Many costs associated with home ownership are expected, such as the mortgage principal, interest, taxes and insurance. These are often rolled together in your monthly payment, making it easy to budget for them. If this is all that you’ve counted on, however, you haven’t budgeted enough. There are two other areas you need to account for:

1. Furnishing and decorating
To begin with, if you’re moving into your first home, you’ll need furniture and decorations. If you’re coming from a small apartment, you’ll be amazed by how empty your new rooms look. You’ll probably want to paint or recover the walls, and maybe tear out an old carpet in favor of new hardwood. You may have to buy window coverings, such as blinds or curtains. All of these costs can add up quickly -- and these are the fun expenses.

2. Ongoing maintenance
You may also be surprised by how much it costs to maintain your home. A leaky roof, a broken step, an air conditioner that goes on the fritz in the dead of summer -- all of these are now your responsibility. Remember, though, that keeping you home well maintained will make it easier to sell when you’re ready to move. And you may even be able to recoup much of the cost of improvements such as the installation of a new bathroom or kitchen.

In order to be prepared to cover these costs, it’s a good idea to set aside one to three percent of your home’s purchase price each year. That will help you be ready for any surprise your home throws at you.

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