Buying a house is expensive on its own, but that's only the beginning of the costs that you might have to pay. You'll encounter quite a few unexpected costs when buying a home.
I was so done with landlords and rented apartments — with wondering when that couple upstairs would stop fighting, or when the people downstairs would finally stop partying. I wanted to hang my own art on my walls. To not have to wait for the landlord to schedule a handyman when something was broken.
We finally bought a house, budgeting for mortgage and homeowners insurance, but had no idea how many unexpected costs we'd come across when buying a home. If you want to purchase a house, you should definitely consider these costs, too:
- Home inspections
- Closing costs
- Renovations and repairs
- Lawn care
- Moving expenses
- New appliances
1. Home Inspections
It’s always smart to get a home inspector to check out your house. The inspector should tell you about major problems like mold or electrical issues, along with smaller ones like broken windows and non-functioning appliances. It’s important to do a walk-through with the home inspector, but this can run around $500.
Further Reading: “A Shoddy Home Inspection Cost Us Tens of Thousands in Repairs”
2. Closing Costs
In addition to the down payment, you’ll need to pay closing costs. These include a lawyer, lender fees, appraisal (unless you paid for this separately), escrow fees, and title insurance. Our closing costs also included the pro-rated Homeowners Association (HOA) fees and insurance for the entire year. Closing costs will vary depending on your lender and your location, but it’s usually between two and five percent of the price of the home.
3. Renovations and Repairs
When you're buying a house, you might want to do some renovations. It helps you make your home feel more “yours.” Our house’s previous owner (who lived out-of-state) rented it out, so there were also some home repairs that needed to be done. One broken window, one fogged window, and wood rot, among other things. We knew about these going into closing, but you still have pay for them. Though we were lucky on one front — the hot water heater broke before we closed, and the previous owner bought a new one.
We also didn’t think about the cost of changing the locks, new light bulbs, or floor mats.
And forget about trash cans, drawer liners and organizers, and cleaning supplies. Some people might have had a few of these items already, but since we had previously lived in a furnished apartment, and then with my parents, we needed to purchase many them.
Further Reading: “I Saved Thousands With DIY Home Repair”
4. Lawn Care
I'd never had a lawn before, and I didn’t even think about the cost of maintaining it before buying the house. Most cities have regulations for lawn height. So we calculated the cost of hiring someone to do our small yard compared to buying a lawn mower. In the end, we bought a mower, instead. My dad found an inexpensive lawnmower for us, and we plan to mow our lawn ourselves this summer.
5. Moving Expenses
This is a cost that is frequently forgotten in the shuffle. Some people like to buy pizza and ask their friends to help move furniture, but my partner and I are too old for that.
After buying a house, we hired movers who were licensed and insured. We ended up paying about $650 for moving, but it was totally worth it so that we wouldn’t need to be carrying things up and down stairs. Because they scraped the paint off one of our dressers, they also gave us a discount. No one is perfect, and because it was one of our DIY projects, it was easy to repaint it.
6. New Appliances
Some people will inevitably need to buy new appliances when they're buying a house. The previous owners of our home had a fairly new microwave, refrigerator, and stove that we didn’t need to replace; but our washer and dryer, while functional, didn’t work well. I had to run the dryer for nearly an hour and a half for a load of laundry to dry. We had never purchased these kinds of appliances before, but we needed new. Some people might even need to get new toilets. We’re holding out on that front, even though ours aren’t that great.
At the end of the project, we were glad that we had saved up enough money for the down payment, as well as other unexpected costs when buying a home.
Further Reading: “How to Save Money for a House”