You did it. You bought your very first house. You worked hard to save every penny for the down payment and closing costs. Now you can sit back, relax your budget, and grab a latte to celebrate, right? Unfortunately, owning a home has its rewards and its not-so-fun money surprises. Brace yourself.
1. Utilities: The cost of utilities — water, sewer, electricity, gas, cable, high-speed internet, and trash — can sneak up on new homeowners. Many of those utilities are inexpensive, but twenty dollars here and fifty dollars there can add up to hundreds of dollars in unexpected expenses each each month.
2. Property Taxes: While home buyers know what the previous owner paid in property taxes and prorate the first year's property taxes at closing, they may be surprised when the new bill comes. The assessor can (and probably will) raise the tax assessment based on the new sale price. You can, however, appeal this new value. Working with a property tax consultant could help you to lower your property tax bill.
3. Homeowner's Insurance: Your homeowner's insurance could increase dramatically after the first year, which could unexpectedly deplete your escrow account. Talk to your insurance agent about any discounts that you qualify for, like a good driving record discount, a discount for bundling home and auto, or even a discount for military families.
4. Home Maintenance: You know all those things that the maintenance crew took care of at your last apartment of condo (or at your parents' house)? Well, all those maintenance jobs are yours now, and they are not cheap. Plan on spending many Saturday mornings at your local hardware superstore because you now need to mow the lawn, shovel the snow, change the furnace filters, fix the leaky faucet, and so much more.
5. Decor: There are plenty of other, unexpected costs when you move into a new home. The hideous green paint that you cannot bear to live with will end up taking four coats of expensive primer to cover. The dated floral wallpaper that was in the kitchen will take down chunks of drywall when you try to remove it and will require a call to the professionals for help. The non-existent drapes that you didn't realize were excluded from the sale and will have to be replaced sooner rather than later so you can avoid pinning up a sheet for privacy.
The key to all of these not-so-fun money surprises is that you need to keep saving and keep living on a tight budget in order to be prepared for the unexpected.Share