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8 Home Costs That Take New Buyers by Surprise

By Anja Sonnenberg (Photos and article courtesy

While renting has the advantage of being affordable and carefree, purchasing your own home can be a great investment opportunity—if you’re prepared. Unlike with a rental, the costs of repairing and maintaining a property fall completely on the homeowner, and too often these additional financial responsibilities catch first-time buyers by surprise. Prime yourself to take on any sudden shakeup with this list of 8 often-overlooked costs of owning a home.

Unanticipated Property Taxes

Adding your property taxes into your household budget is a must before you move in, but many home buyers fail to budget for yearly tax increases as well. Another important cost that's easy to forget? Any additions or improvements you make—like putting in a bathroom, building a deck, or renovating a kitchen—can also affect or increase your property tax.   

Outdoor Maintenance Costs

A lush lawn framed by perfectly manicured flower beds can beautifully enhance your curb appeal—but an outdoor oasis doesn't come cheap. Whether you choose to do the work yourself or hire a landscaper, the tools and materials necessary to maintain an ideal lawn can sometimes take first-timers by surprise. While lovely landscaping is worth the investment, keep these often-overlooked costs in mind when you're formulating a household budget. 

Updated Safety Improvements

The costs of safety features for rental units are often lumped into a building's monthly fees. Homeowners, however, need to pay directly for their security. While you may at first be comfortable with the level of security that your house has to offer, once you move in you might find yourself wanting to change the locks, add motion-sensor lights, or even install a monitoring or alarm system. Be sure to anticipate the costs of such safety improvements so you'll be prepared for the fees associated with peace of mind. 

Interior Space Considerations

If you're moving from a rental to a house, you're probably looking forward to doubling the size of your living space. But with greater square footage comes more rooms that have to be filled and maintained. While you don't have to decorate, purchase new furniture, acquire accessories, and stock up on cleaning supplies all at once, it's important to remember that setting up and maintaining these additional spaces will require time and money—expenses that you may not have accounted for initially, or completely forgot about in your excitement over your new home. 

Additional Insurance Coverage

While purchasing homeowner's insurance may seem like a pretty basic, required task, there are a surprising number of situations that can make the price skyrocket. For instance, if you're buying an older home, the coverage for outdated plumbing, heating, and electrical could really add up. As well, living within a flood, earthquake, or tsunami zone could require an additional form of insurance. Always thoroughly research your options to be certain that you're purchasing the correct policy for your needs, and be sure to factor the cost into your budget.

Preventive Pest Measures

Gone are the days of calling the landlord whenever you encounter an unwelcome pest guest. Now, if you find mice, termites, cockroaches, or bed bugs on your property, the cost of eliminating these visitors will now fall squarely on your shoulders. While routine maintenance is key to avoiding these unhappy surprises, such preventive measures may cost you a little more than you may have originally bargained for. Be forewarned!

Unexpected Home Repairs

Before you closed on your home, the inspection probably opened your eyes to a few improvements that you'll need to make. But many homebuyers fail to plan for surprises like leaky pipes, drafty doors, and creaky steps that may be discovered after the papers have been signed. Unexpected repairs can be costly, so always set aside a little extra money—some suggest about 1 percent of the home's purchase price—to cover these surprises as they arise.

Increased Time Investment

While financial considerations are of utmost importance when buying a home, there's another huge factor that many buyers fail to take into account: time. A house simply requires much more attention—in the form of repairs, remodeling, redecorating, and yard work—than most first-time buyers are used to. Although the investment can be well worth it over the years, don't underestimate the effort you'll have to put in to make your new house feel like a home—and keep it that way. 

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