Buying a home for the first time is an exciting phase of life. After renting or living with family, it’s finally time to have your own place. What once seemed like a dream can quickly become a reality once you find the perfect place — after your offer gets accepted and you eventually close. Having keys in hand and walking through your home for the first time is so gratifying.
However, a few things can quickly bring your head out of the clouds if you aren’t in the know. Of course, owning a mortgage is well worth the investment in yourself and your future, but that doesn’t mean it can’t come with some unexpected costs and roadblocks. But worry not — I asked some real estate experts to help you navigate the road ahead. Here are four things first-time homeowners are never prepared for
Budgeting for Unexpected Repairs
If the dishwasher breaks, the roof leaks, or you have a light fixture on the fritz, you no longer have a landlord to call. That responsibility now falls on you as a homeowner. Although some things are inexpensive to fix, other issues can break the bank, especially if you don’t have the funds to cover the repairs. Many home repairs are timely, and hiring an expert such as a plumber or electrician to evaluate and fix problems — even small ones — can cost hundreds of dollars.
“First-time buyers are not prepared for the unforeseen maintenance a home requires,” says real estate broker Phil McDonald. He suggests having your real estate agent help secure a home warranty. “It is good practice for agents working with first-time home buyers to negotiate a home warranty provided by the seller to compensate for these unexpected items,” he adds.
Experiencing DIY Overload
One of the best parts about owning a home is that you get to make it your own. Planning to paint, remodel, and plant a vegetable garden are all ways that you can let your personality shine through in your new dwelling. However, as time passes, you may lose momentum as projects consume your free time.
As an experienced house flipper, Melanie Hartmann knows how much of a time investment DIY tasks can be. “First-time homebuyers are never prepared for how much time, energy, and money those DIY projects actually end up taking,” she says. Hartmann also notes that homeowners sometimes don’t factor in the effort it takes to run back and forth to the home improvement store for supplies, so it’s wise to build in extra time, especially when tackling what seems like a weekend project.
Maintaining the Outside
Unless you’re buying a condo or townhouse, it’s essential to schedule time to take care of the outdoors. “Even day-to-day tasks like mowing the lawn or shoveling snow can become unexpected responsibilities for first-time homeowners,” says real estate broker Boyd Rudy. Of course, you can always hire lawn care and landscaping services. When it snows, a neighborhood child may shovel your driveway to raise funds. However, if you choose to do these tasks yourself, there is also the expense of purchasing equipment, such as a weed eater and sturdy shovel.
Paying Annual Fees
In addition to your monthly mortgage, it’s vital to fit other expenses into your overall budget. Matt Teifke is a real estate investor and broker, and he says that these reparations are the true cost of home ownership. “Owning a home is expensive,” he says. “There are mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and repairs.” These things can add up quickly and catch first-time homebuyers off guard. The good news is depending on your lender, they can roll property taxes and insurance payments into one monthly payment.