Buying a house is stressful. First, there’s those pesky human interactions with the seller, the real estate broker, the finance people, the real estate attorney (if required), the inspector, the appraiser, the fire department (for the smoke test), and don’t forget your spouse who will likely lose his or her mind during the process. Are you having fun yet?
Wait, there’s more. Each of those parties listed above has a document (or six) for you to sign. Meanwhile, you can’t touch any of your savings and your mortgage interest rate will be determined by your credit score. It’s too soon to think about debt consolidation using home equity, so you’re stuck with your outstanding credit card balances, at least for now.
Don’t despair. In the end, it’s usually worth it, provided you planned properly before beginning the home buying process. What that means is knowing what your costs will be and earmarking the funds to cover them. That goes beyond the closing costs, property taxes, and insurance requirements. There are other expenses, both outside and inside the home.
Taking Care of the Outside of Your Home
Those who have only rented before are often surprised at the maintenance and upkeep costs involved in owning a home. You won’t have someone else paying to mow your lawn, pave your driveway, shovel snow, remove your trash, or rake the leaves in fall. You’ll need to perform those tasks yourself or pay a service to maintain your home’s curb appeal.
We haven’t even gotten to the major expenses yet, like putting shingles on a roof, painting, tree removal, or pest control. These may not be necessary when you first buy your home, but they’ll all be required at some point. Start building equity quickly just in case you need a loan and open a dedicated savings account to cover unexpected expenses that come your way.
Expenses to Prepare for Inside the Home
If you’re upsizing from an apartment, you’ll need furniture. You’ll also want to start appliance shopping. New homes don’t usually come with refrigerators, dishwashers, or washers and dryers. While you’re shopping for those, check out curtains, blinds, lights, and light fixtures. Do you want carpeting? You’ll need to pay for that too.
This is the joyful life of home ownership, the American dream. The good news is that every mortgage payment you make builds equity instead of paying someone else’s bills. Remember that when you’re paying utility bills, installing a new security system, or buying tools at the hardware store that you never thought you’d need.
The Bottom Line: Home Ownership is Expensive
You may have surmised this for yourself already. Home ownership isn’t cheap. It requires careful budgeting and a steady income. In the beginning, it will be hard because there are things you need that were not part of tenant life. Take it slow, live lean, and try not to be stressed out. Pay the home off and you’ll be able to live comfortably when you retire.