The True Costs of Homeownership

February 22, 2019

Are you thinking of buying a house? Maybe you’re tired of your landlord raising the rent on you. Maybe you want to paint every room in your home a different color of the rainbow. Or maybe you’re simply ready to settle down and start a family.

Whatever your reason, buying a house can be a smart and rewarding decision—but you need to go into it with your eyes wide open. Homeownership is a serious financial commitment, and it’s important you understand just what you’re getting into. Unlike renting, owning a home comes with a variety of regular costs you may not have anticipated.

Before you sign on the dotted line, take the time to add up all the related costs and make sure homeownership is right for you. Here’s a quick look at a few of the expenses you’ll be responsible for as a homeowner:

  • Your mortgage. Your monthly payment involves more than the principal and interest of your loan. It also includes homeowner’s insurance and property taxes, which can add a significant amount to your payment each month. If you can’t put down 20 percent and have to pay private mortgage insurance, be sure to include that in your calculations.
  • Utilities. You probably already pay for some of your utilities as a renter, but as a homeowner, you’re responsible for them all. This includes electricity, water, wastewater, natural gas, garbage collection and recycling. You also will pay for your own internet and cable service.
  • HOA dues. If your new home is part of a neighborhood or complex with a homeowners association, you’ll be required to pay regular dues. These can range from just a few dollars a month to several hundred, so make sure you know what the dues are before you commit to buying a property.

  • Landscaping. Someone has to mow that huge backyard. Even if you decide to take care of it yourself, you’ll have to purchase a lawnmower and other equipment. Don’t forget to consider that time is money; the time you spend mowing and raking could be better spent doing other activities.

  • Maintenance and repairs. Things can—and will—break. You need to have money set aside for emergencies such as a plumbing leak or broken appliance. In addition, you should plan on spending 1–2% of your home’s value each year on general maintenance to ensure your home remains in good shape.

Once you know have a good idea of how much it will cost you each month to own a home, take a look at your other monthly expenses, such as groceries, gas, entertainment, and debt payments, as well as your total monthly income. Most experts recommend you spend 28% or less of your monthly income on housing.

If homeownership still makes sense after you run the numbers, congratulations! You’re in for a fun ride. After you’re done signing the reams of paperwork involved and close on your new home, don’t forget to upload all the documents onto It’s a safe place to store all the information on one of the most important transactions you’ll ever make.

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