Craig Della Penna, Realtor®'s Blog
If you're in the market for a new home, one of the first things you need to determine is how much of a monthly mortgage payment you can comfortably afford. A loan officer or mortgage broker can help you figure that out, based on your income, debts, and other information.
One thing they probably won't include in the equation is the cost of home maintenance and other essential services, like garbage collection.
Ultimately, it's up to the homeowner to build in enough "breathing room" in their budget to cover unexpected expenses. Although you can't predict exactly what those expenses will be or how much they'll cost, it's virtually guaranteed that they're going to occur. Whether you're planning to buy a new house or a mid-century dwelling, here's the short list of typical homeowner expenses that could crop up. While all these items may not apply directly to your situation, many of them eventually will.
- Plumbing repairs: Leaky pipes, clogged drains, and broken plumbing fixtures are common problems in most homes. You may also need a plumber to fix or install a garbage disposal, repair or replace a hot water heater, or hook up a new refrigerator to your water supply.
- HVAC services: When you combine the cost of semi-annual routine service calls and unexpected emergency repairs, the cost of maintaining your heating and cooling systems can really take a bite out of your household budget!
- Appliance repair: The typical family depends on at least a half a dozen major appliances to prepare meals and keep their clothes and dishes clean. When one or more of those appliances break down, chaos can ensue! In many cases, it's more cost-effective and practical to call a repair service than buy a new appliance.
- Exterminator services: Regardless of whether you live in the city or the country, unexpected and unwelcome insects, rodents, and other miscellaneous varmints can show up in your home and yard. Sometimes it's even necessary to call a wildlife control specialist to remove skunks, raccoons, and other intruders!
- Electrical repairs and upgrades: Although electrical repairs are occasionally needed for safety reasons, most calls to electricians are more routine in nature. However, when light switches, electrical outlets, and ceiling lights stop working, it can be a huge inconvenience for you and your family. In some cases, you might even be desperate enough to pay extra for emergency electrical service on weekends!
- Miscellaneous expenses: Garage door repairs, fireplace cleaning, swimming pool maintenance, deck repairs, rain gutter cleaning, professional carpet cleaning, landscaping, fence repair, home siding repair, and wet basement problems are a few of the many expenses that may require you to dip into your savings or household budget.
218 Crescent St, Northampton, MA 01060
16 Russell Ln, Easthampton, MA 01027
There’s no denying that purchasing a home requires a huge investment from buyers. Not only will you need to have a down payment in place, but you’ll need to consider closing costs, home maintenance, property taxes and more over the years. While these are all expenses that most buyers are aware of, there are other “hidden” costs that come along with owning a home as well. In fact, many people say that the true cost of buying a home can be up to 4 times the sale price. So, what hidden cost should you be aware of and why do we think they’re all 100 percent worth it in the long run?
3 Hidden Costs of Owning a Home
1. Mortgage Interest
When you look at the amount of money you’ve borrowed to purchase your home, you may be tempted to plan to repay that sum over the next few decades. But you should also be accounting for the interest payments attached to your mortgage loan. Additionally, mortgage interest works slightly differently than the interest on a traditional loan. For example, if your interest rate is 4 percent, you won’t likely be paying that much annually. Towards the beginning of your mortgage, about half of your payment will be going toward interest alone.
2. HOA Dues
If you’ve purchased a home that’s part of a “community” of properties or a homeowner’s association (HOA), you’ll be required to pay association dues. While these additional fees are usually disclosed during the sales process and come with a variety of benefits, they can be subject to occasional one-time assessments or special projects that will increase your dues. On average, HOA dues cost American homeowners anywhere from $200 to $400 each month.
3. Updated Security
When you purchase a home, it’s in your best interest to change all the locks on the external doors. Unfortunately, there’s really no way to know how many copies of the original keys may be out there, so this is the best way to protect yourself. Additionally, if your new home has a security system in place, you’ll need to figure out how to program it to only be accessed by your computer and smartphone. Previous owners or tenants shouldn’t be able to access the property via their phone!
Are These Costs Worth It?
Yes! While these hidden homeownership costs can be a pain at first, when it comes down to it owning a home is the right choice for many people across the country. As long as you are prepared for the unexpected, homeownership can be a positive experience and a sound investment.
Moving locally might not seem as stressful as a long-distance move, but it can still be hectic if you’re not well-prepared for it. Whether your local move is just down the street or to another part of town, make sure you start getting ready for it early. The following tips can help make your upcoming move a bit easier.
Start Sorting & Packing Early
Even though it won’t take as long to get to your new home when you move a short distance, you should still get started on sorting and packing your belongings as early as you can. Waiting to begin may mean you’ll feel rushed and opt to skip the sorting process. Instead of donating or tossing items in order to downsize, for example, you might end up bringing everything with you to your new home. If you’ve closed on your new home and know your moving date, you can begin sorting through your household items.
Label Your Boxes
Being as organized as possible can help your local move go smoothly. As you go through your belongings and pack them up, put labels on each box or container. Your labels should let you know what’s inside and where each box or container should go. You can either write the room on the label or use color-coded labels for different rooms. Having all of your boxes and containers clearly marked makes it easy for you or your movers to know where to put them at your new home.
Switch Your Utilities
As your move gets closer, keep in mind that you’ll need to change your utilities over to your new home. Since you’re moving locally, you might not have to deal with switching to new utility companies. Instead, you might just have to contact each company to provide them with your new address and let them know when to shut off services at your current home and turn them on at your new home.
Make Multiple Trips
Since your new home isn’t far away, you should be able to make several trips back and forth instead of having to move everything in one trip. You can load up your car with smaller items and boxes for these trips, and unload them in your new residence. For larger items, such as your furniture, make plans to rent a truck or hire local movers to handle these for you. Moving into your new home a little at a time through multiple trips helps make your actual moving day less stressful overall.