8 Surprise expenses for new homeowners

Over a year ago, I bought my first home. And while I'd been warned about the extra expenses that come with homeownership, there were still some surprises.

I don't mean the “unexpected” costs of property taxes and repairs — expenses that are often covered in articles about new homeownership. “Surprise! There's no landlord to come fix your garbage disposal.” Is that really a surprise to anyone, though?

No, what I'm talking about are the less obvious expenses — the ones that new homeowners probably aren't thinking about when they sign the closing documents and get the keys to their new home. Here are some of those less obvious expenses that took me by surprise in the last year.

1. Changing the locks. When I first moved in, my dad “reminded” me to call a locksmith and have the locks changed. Only, silly me, I had no idea that I should do that. Dad pointed out that my house had had several owners and was even a rental at one point. That means that any number of people could possibly have a key to my house.

Okay, so that's three locks that needed to be changed. No big deal. Only the three estimates that I got came in at around $200 — much higher than I was expecting. Finally I found a special for $79 and got the locks rekeyed.

2. Lawn maintenance. One of the big selling points for our house was the half-acre yard. It feels like a bit of country in the city.

Well, the week we moved in, a neighbor asked us, “Do you guys have a riding lawnmower? ‘Cause you're gonna need one!” The truth is that we hadn't really thought about lawn care yet. We'd just bought the house, and we were 100 percent focused on some repairs and getting moved in. But our neighbor had a point — we'd either need a riding mower or a lawn service. And being the DIY-type, we wanted the mower.

Eventually the growing grass forced us to take the plunge.

3. Multiple appliance repairs and replacement. Okay, we knew we'd be responsible for our own appliances. But what I didn't count on was so many of these repairs and replacements in the first year!

We had to replace a garage door opener, an AC motor (and it was an expensive one), and a water heater. Thankfully, our real estate agent negotiated a one-year home warranty, paid for by the seller. So these costs, which would have been well over $1,000, ended up costing only $180.

Each time I had to use the warranty, I emailed my agent to thank her for her foresight.

4. Cosmetic upgrades. I thought that cosmetic upgrades, like painting the bedrooms, would be quick and cheap. Well, they were neither quick nor cheap!

Just one bucket of paint ran $32, and with four rooms, I needed a lot of buckets of paint. Plus, there are all of the little things you don't always think about — rollers, trays, gloves, paintbrushes, drop cloths, and rolls upon rolls of painter tape. Cosmetic upgrades turned out to be a lot more expensive than I originally thought.

5. Furnishing the house. Obviously, you don't have to go crazy furnishing every inch of your house. And we haven't. We're going slowly.

But sometimes, things come up. For instance, when my in-laws were planning to visit, we decided to buy a daybed for the guest bedroom. We also needed guest towels for the bath. And a bath mat. If we hadn't had guests, we might have held off on those expenses. But part of the reason we bought the house was to entertain family and friends more often (and more comfortably).

6. Window treatments and replacements. Not long after moving in, I realized just how old our windows are. As in, I'm pretty sure they're original to our 1971 house. Plus, a couple of sets of blinds had shredded strings and didn't work properly.

As I discovered in the window treatment section of Lowe's, blinds are expensive! So we just replaced the two sets that weren't working. As for replacing every window in the house, it's something we're starting to look into now.

7. Rising property taxes. Property taxes aren't a surprise, but the fact that the county increased my taxes by 31 percent from one year to the next was a huge shock!

I'm currently protesting my taxes, and there are a couple of reasons why that assessment shouldn't stick. For one, I paid less than the assessed value for the home just over a year ago. And two, my homestead paperwork is currently being processed and, according to their site, taxes shouldn't increase on a homestead by more than 10 percent in a given year, plus the value of any improvements.

So, fingers crossed…

8. Tree trimming. This is the next to-do item on my list. Another thing about that great yard that we loved is that it came with a bunch of gorgeous, established oak trees.

Only it's time we had those trees trimmed. There are some branches that need to go, and the trees are entirely too tall for us to do the work ourselves. Plus, we're not arborists, and we'd like our trees to stay healthy and beautiful. After all, they're part of the reason we fell in love with this property in the first place.

Covering Those Unexpected Expenses

Luckily, my husband and I had the extra money in the bank to cover these expenses, but I can see how people can get into serious trouble if they aren't prepared for some of them.

And while I wish I had a magic formula to share with you, it's impossible for me to tell you how much to shore up your emergency fund. It just depends on too many factors, like the size of your house, the size of your lawn, how much work you can do yourself, and even just plain luck (or lack of it).

So if you're contemplating purchasing your first home, just be aware of these hidden costs. Save more than you think you need to, and don't buy as much house as you can. We bought a fairly small house and, while I love the house and love working on it, I'm glad we didn't get anything bigger!

Readers, if you own a home, what other hidden costs surprised you?

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Tara
Tara
6 years ago

I bought a condo in 2007. Since then, I have replaced all the appliances including the water heater, had two special assessments totalling $20,000, and had the condo fees and the property taxes go up by 30%+. Way more expensive than I had planned for, but I have a good emergency fund so it worked out. But it cured me of wanting to buy another condo!

SAHMama
SAHMama
6 years ago

When we bought this house in 2004, we had an inspection and the bank even sent out a structural engineer to check on a slightly bowed wall. Nobody gave us any indication of the impending doom… The remnants of a hurricane came here to Ohio. The basement wall moved and cost $6,500 to repair. The motor in the heat pump blew. The garbage disposer fell off. The kitchen faucet fell off. The garage door got a goblin in it and decided to open itself at will. A severe storm gave us hail damage to the roof and gutters – just… Read more »

Curtis@PayOffMyRentals
6 years ago

Back in 2010 we purchased a newly remodeled house. Surprise, surprise, the original sewer line was antiquated and backed up several times in the first week. $2,500 later we were good to go…(no crude pun intended).

You certainly hit all the unforeseen expenses I’ve experienced.

Jacob
Jacob
6 years ago

Don’t bother with the home warren y if you don’t have too. They are in the business of making money and will get there money out of you, then when something does break you are stuck going through who ever the lowest bidder is and they will only fix it to the bare minimum standard

Hoping to Adopt
Hoping to Adopt
6 years ago
Reply to  Jacob

Yes, home warranties are usually not worth it. A few months after we moved into our home, I finally got around to reading the fine print on our home warranty. I found out that there were very few things that the warranty would actually cover, and there would be a deductible to be paid with each claim.

lindsay
lindsay
6 years ago

Totally agree. Glad it helped April but the times I tried to use my home warranty were totally worthless. I should have chosen to get the seller to do some minor repairs instead.

Jane
Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  lindsay

We got burned, because there was a corroded pipe underneath the bathroom sink that our inspector flagged. When we brought it up to the seller, they countered with, “The home warranty will cover it.” Nope, it didn’t and we ended up having to foot the bill when it started leaking and ruined a ceiling as well. Lesson learned. In general, home warranties stink, but if the seller is offering it as part of the sale, take it, especially if you are a first time home owner. You are so overwhelmed that first year that it might come in handy. We… Read more »

Dave Lalonde
Dave Lalonde
6 years ago

Another thing to keep in mind of is pest control. Sounds gross, but it’s true. There a just nests of bees around my home and it’s aggravating considering how some might just find their way inside my house! But another would be the furnace or air conditioning…. Okay, so it’s not as “hidden” necessarily. But it adds up all the same!

Z
Z
6 years ago

I’ve been hit with all but #7. Fortunately we’ve been able to defer them for a couple of years and I wouldn’t have called them a surprise. We knew the trees would have to go and that the house would need furniture. We went with the cheap blinds at Lowe’s and haven’t looked back.

Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life
Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life
6 years ago

Sometimes I just thank goodness I’m a renter. Around the house I’m a woman from the 50s, I rely on the handy men to do everything. How unprogressive of me!

Brian@ Debt Discipline
[email protected] Debt Discipline
6 years ago

A few years into our first home we had cesspool/septic issues. We need some major repairs to the cost of $2500.

Short arms long pockets
Short arms long pockets
6 years ago

Great article, completely on-point, we have run into several of these. We are currently in the process of replacing the heating system on the condo we bought last August. During the summer/fall because of temperature conditions we did not hear the extreme banging in the old steam radiators that made it impossible for us (and our neighbors) to sleep in the winter. (Think elf with a crowbar hitting on cast iron radiators for extended periods.) It was so bad that we had to turn off the radiator in our bedroom – leading to many chilly mornings as winter ravaged the… Read more »

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
6 years ago

That sounds about right. For us a leaky skylight was covered under a home warranty (that our real estate agent thoughtfully made sure the previous owners bought for us), but the leaky pipes going to our house were not covered by either the city or by the insurance policy because they were just outside the house.

In the end, the surprise expenses meant we put off buying a lot of furniture and we used the laundromat for a couple of months until we had enough money to pay cash.

Holly@ClubThrifty
6 years ago

I hope you had better luck with your property taxes than I did. Our old home was assessed for 40% more than we paid for it and I never got them to lower our property taxes or change the assessment. =/

Mrs PoP
Mrs PoP
6 years ago

We had all of these and more, but I can’t really say they were surprises as we had a very good idea of the condition of the foreclosure we were purchasing before we closed. Good luck with the assessment challenge – we went through that and won our challenge and locked in much lower rates when our homestead set in place the following year. I would call your property appraiser and have them thoroughly explain the process they use to make their assessments (it will have specific date cutoffs that might be before you purchased your house). That’s what your… Read more »

Jackie K
Jackie K
6 years ago

Yes, all of the above, plus – HOA special assessments and hurricane shutters. We were hit by the hurricanes the first two years after moving into our home. New garage door (with hurricane bracing) plus shutters on 17 openings came to $15k. Hurricane damage repairs to our home $5k. Unbudgeted repairs to the neighborhood brought a $1k special assessment by the Homeowners Association.
Ka-ching. We used to have a big emergency buffer, now it’s kinda’ tight.

Monica
Monica
6 years ago

So far we’re dealing with nearly all of the above, except for property taxes and tree trimming (my husband is quite handy and does this himself).

One thing we did not expect the heating costs (oil) to be so expensive. We installed a wood stove before we moved in (wasn’t an unconsiderable expense) to cut back on our heating costs, but heating the home was still more than we bargained for!

And many of my windows are still bare – it’s so expensive!!

Hoping to Adopt
Hoping to Adopt
6 years ago
Reply to  Monica

We were able to call the energy provider prior to purchasing the home to find out home much the owner had to pay each month for electricity and natural gas. While our monthly energy costs ended up being less than the previous owners, it was still a shock from what we had to pay at the apartment we had been living in. At the apartment, heat was included and we only had to pay electricity. Another utility cost that was new to us was the water, sewer, and garbage expenses. That is something you kind of take for granted as… Read more »

stellamarina
stellamarina
6 years ago
Reply to  Monica

Your bare windows may be one of the reasons that your energy bill is so high. I think I would be covering the windows with something….even just at night….to keep the cold out….eg..blanket, cardboard,styrofoam board or bubble wrap.

Jenn
Jenn
6 years ago

We just lumped all those expenses together and started calling it the Home Depot bill. We jokingly estimated about $200 a month but I doubt it ever got that high. The key is to only take care of what needs attention and think carefully about any add-ons. It’s also good to plan for a move-in surprise which we define as anything that breaks within a year of moving. Ours were fairly boring but the previous owners of our old house had a pipe burst 4 months in. They had to replace all the kitchen cabinets. Fortunately, it was a tiny… Read more »

KC in GA
KC in GA
6 years ago

We’re fortunate: Been in our 50 year old house a year and only minor issues. But, it’s a split level, and the difference between downstairs and upstairs is substantial for heating and cooling disparities. Hence, higher utility bills. I have no idea how to improve that. But for other minor repairs, I have found YouTube to be a real time and money saver. Our washer broke and I was able to determine the problem and fix it via watching a video, paying only $21 for a part. Other unforseen costs: moved closer to the city for better work/life balance and… Read more »

Blain
Blain
6 years ago

My biggest surprise was going from a home with all-electric heat to a a home with propane. I knew propane was expensive, but I was expecting more efficient propane heating to balance with what I previously paying with electricity for heat. I was waaay off. My propane (for heating on a single floor, and hot water heating) costs me $2,000 – $3,000 per year. My electricity bill is maybe $300 less per year. That was quite a shock to me, and when this unit needs to be replaced I will need to consider the dual fuel options or something else… Read more »

Tonya
Tonya
6 years ago
Reply to  Blain

Wow, that is surprising. I was used to natural gas heating, which is quite cheap in Utah, so when we had electric heat in NC, that made a significant difference. Didn’t realize propane was worse than electric!

Blain
Blain
6 years ago
Reply to  Tonya

I didn’t know it either. 🙂 My previous house was smaller, but I spent maybe $200/month in electricity over the winter months.

New larger house has propane heat on the first floor and my electricity bill over the winter months is now probably $150/month maybe a little lower. Rest of the year it is about the same.

Couple that with the ridiculous propane costs and you have a recipe for me collapsing every time they fill up my tank. 🙂

Rail
Rail
6 years ago
Reply to  Blain

L.P. gas WAS way cheaper than oil or electricity until the last few years. 1997 was the last year I was in the LP business and even in the dead of winter (Iowa cold) gas would run 50-60 cents and 60 was high. Price ranges for competitors were usually under 5 cents. Then 9-11 happened and of course petroleum refiners have found a way to gouge everyone. This last winter I paid $5.30!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! per gallon for LP. This had the whole Midwest in an uproar as probably 90% of rural and small town Iowa homes are heated with LP. Compare… Read more »

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
6 years ago

This kind of thing makes me glad I’m a renter. Whenever I look at those “Should I rent or buy” calculators, they seem flawed because they’re only looking at mortgage payments vs rent. They don’t factor in things like maintenance costs, condo fees or utilities (my landlord pays all my utilities now).

#7 wouldn’t be such a big deal for me here–property taxes in MA can’t rise more than 2.5% without a voter override. The other stuff would be a big concern.

John C @ Action Economics
John C @ Action Economics
6 years ago

Yikes on the property tax increase! Even 10% is a big hit. In Michigan it is limited to 5% in a year or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower, but it still has to be related to the value of the property, not an automatic increase.

Hoping to Adopt
Hoping to Adopt
6 years ago

Re: lawn care. It isn’t just the cost of the mower. Add in the string trimmer, hand saw, branch trimmer, wheel barrow, lawn seed, fertilizer, new plants, patio furniture, hoses, garden rakes, etc., and you are easily at a couple of grand in costs.

If you live in the frozen north, you also have the cost of the snow blower, shovels, and ice melt salt.

Alyssa
Alyssa
6 years ago

don’t forget gas for the mower haha!

Allyson
Allyson
6 years ago

Don’t forget repairing the riding lawn mower when a mouse builds a nest inside the engine over the winter and even your pretty-handy husband can’t figure out how to make it work again!

Hoping to Adopt
Hoping to Adopt
6 years ago

The biggest shock we got was that all three of our (older)vehicles died in the first week after closing on our house. The worst part was that we were dealing with a sleazy mechanic because we hadn’t yet established a relationship with a reliable mechanic.

SavvyFinancialLatina
SavvyFinancialLatina
6 years ago

Ahh home ownership. We’ve had similar discoveries from our home. Sometimes I wonder if it was worth it, but then I realize we will own our home in 14.5 years (we got a 15 yr mortgage) at the very latest. And even if it’s a broken home as long as it still has four walls and a roof, it means we will have somewhere to stay if the going gets tough. I would like something fancier, obviously. Who doesn’t when you look at all the magazine and pinterest, but I don’t want to pay for it.

Rob
Rob
6 years ago

We had most of the furnishings we needed, so we didn’t have that expense. We did, however, need a washer and dryer, lawn mower, and fridge. We haven’t rekeyed our doors — that actually never even crossed our minds.

The house hasn’t needed any repairs and had fresh paint. However, we know that we’ll need a new roof sooner than later.

SO… yeah, muy expensive!

Tonya
Tonya
6 years ago

Sprinkling system has caused us plenty of grief. In Utah if you don’t water it, it dies. If your sprinkler doesn’t hit a small spot of your grass, it dies. That’s been one expense I just didn’t think about.

Waverly
Waverly
6 years ago
Reply to  Tonya

Why not opt for more desert-capable plants, then, instead of grass?

Jeff
Jeff
6 years ago
Reply to  Waverly

It’s also my opinion that people who live in desert climes should consider green lawns to be a luxury item. My cousin who lives just outside of Las Vegas already knows how little sympathy I have for his grass.

James @ Happy Later
James @ Happy Later
6 years ago

One thing to consider is lead water pipes, in main land europe these are still present in several houses and need changing as they risk lead contamination.

Ely
Ely
6 years ago

The joys of home ownership. The biggest surprise in our house was that the previous owner was a DIYer with zero skills, so everything he touched is wrong and costs twice as much to fix. Replacing an exhaust fan in the bathroom, which should have taken a couple of hours at most, ended up being a two-day project. When the water heater died we had to replace all the pipes, since they were the wrong size, and the venting which was not to code. We’ve had an electrician out several times for weird little repairs. I’ve had enough bad landlords… Read more »

Priswell
Priswell
6 years ago
Reply to  Ely

We’ve been in our house for a while now, but when we first moved in, we realized that the people before us just let things break down around them. We had to replace every single light fixture, every single faucet (the faucets were all plastic – I didn’t even know plastic faucets existed), and every single wall plug. I don’t know how they managed to actually live here under those conditions. Every remodel/refurbishing project, large and small, unearthed shoddy, 2 cent “fixes” that required 4x the work to make it right. Now, we know that when a project comes up,… Read more »

Cujo
Cujo
6 years ago

You do not “need” a riding mower. We have one, but about half the time I mow our half-acre lot with a reel mower instead (for the workout, and for the environment). Many of our neighbors with similar-sized lots use a regular gas push mower.

Marsha
Marsha
6 years ago
Reply to  Cujo

I agree. We’ve owned a home with a half acre lot for 18 years and have never seen the need for a riding mower; it takes 30 to 45 minutes to mow the yard with a self-propelled walk-behind mower. And it’s not just the expense of a riding mower that’s kept us from buying one–it’s having to store it, too. Our mower can be folded down and stored on a shelf in the garage in the winter.

Juli
Juli
6 years ago
Reply to  Cujo

Agreed. Our yard is a little bigger than 1/2 acre, and quite sloped as well. My husband gets a very good workout when he mows the lawn, and thereby we save on the cost of the mower and gym fees!

Jeff
Jeff
6 years ago
Reply to  Cujo

All of the houses on my street have at least half-acre lots an only owner uses a riding mower. Even my two elderly neighbors use push mowers and I use an electric with a 100 foot cord.

Marie
Marie
6 years ago
Reply to  Cujo

Get back to me on the necessity of the riding mower when you have seven acres and a bad knee. A half acre is a city plot in this part of the country.

SwampWoman
SwampWoman
6 years ago

I buy mistinted paint by the gallon and five gallon sizes. I buy from the big paint companies like Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams, and from Home Depot and Lowe’s. I buy good quality at low prices. I also like to buy closeout/clearance good quality white paint. I can retint the lighter shades into just about any color I want. I can turn blue or yellow into green. I can lighten with the addition of white. I can deepen the shade with some of my tubes of acrylic or oils, depending on the paint. I buy laser-cut wallpaper borders on… Read more »

Jane
Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  SwampWoman

$30,000 sounds high to me, but I would happily pay a roofing crew $10,000-$20,000 to put a new roof on our house. I even pay someone to clean our gutters, because I don’t want my semi-clumsy but much loved husband up on a ladder or on the roof. To me it’s worth the money to guarantee his safety. Disability or premature death are rather expensive propositions.

We stick to DIY projects on the ground :).

Retirmentbuff
Retirmentbuff
6 years ago

Hubby’s old truck died a few months after closing on the house and had to be replaced. Then a year in the A/C died and that was a killer 6K to replace. We did plenty of painting projects (older home done entirely in pastel pink & green) and replaced the carpet in the back bedrooms with laminate wood flooring. Ceiling fans, doggie door, refinishing cabinets most done DIY. There was also termines and we had to get the house tented a few years in. We love being homeowners but have found the old rule of thumb that 1% of the… Read more »

Delta
Delta
6 years ago

Just so you know next time, you can replace the locks yourself. It is not difficult. Go to the local home improvement store and buy the same brand that’s already in the door, as many locks keyed alike as you need. (Kwikset also sells locks that you can re-key yourself, if there aren’t enough with the same key available.) Follow the instructions in the package and take your time, and you should have no problems. I have done this for our locks three times.

Hoping to Adopt
Hoping to Adopt
6 years ago
Reply to  Delta

We replaced all of our exterior door handles with the kind that you can re-key yourself. We have been able to make all of the doors operate with the same key. We saved the alternate keys so that we can rekey them if need be. It only takes a minute each, so we could even rekey it if we needed to give temporary access for a relative or repairman. They also now have the keypad door handles which would be great, but they are more expensive.

Sarah
Sarah
6 years ago
Reply to  Delta

Agreed. We did our own locks as well.

Sarah
Sarah
6 years ago

Sounds very familiar, haha. We haven’t had any hugely shocking expenses but there were plenty of little things we didn’t think about before buying (like having to change the locks).

Hoping to Adopt
Hoping to Adopt
6 years ago

Someone I know bought their house in the winter when it was covered in snow. What they assumed would be a grassy backyard ended up to be covered in 2 feet deep of pea rock. They were also looking forward to the shade from that lovely big tree. The tree turned out to be dead, and they had to pay hundreds of dollars to have it removed.

Juli
Juli
6 years ago

We have been in our house almost 5 years now, and I am sooooo over this home ownership stuff. My husband is not at all handy, and even worse, he has no desire whatsoever to learn even the smallest things. I am not handy, but thanks to Youtube and a little common sense I have been able to make minor fixes to the washing machine, the garage door opener, and several other things around the house. In the last 5 years, we have replaced the roof, the water heater, the a/c unit, the fridge, both toilets, and the stove. We… Read more »

Alexa
Alexa
6 years ago

1. Tree cutting/maintenance – we live on nearly an acre with huge trees that were not properly maintained. This is a multi-year project 2. Yard maintenance – Apparently our yard used to be the “jewel of the neighborhood” but when the original owners got sick the yard turned into a jungle of bramble. Phase 1 is complete, phase 2 for the “back 40” as we call it will happen in the next two years or so and prob cost 8-10k (shudder). 3. Garage doors. When we purchased the house we were prepared to fix the roof but our wood garage… Read more »

Seester Sara
Seester Sara
6 years ago

I also bought a 70’s era house. I bought on the Homepath Renovation program so I got a foreclosed house that hoarders lived in. The bank had gutted it, so I already knew most of the issues. The only appliances were the furnace and water heater. Luckily I’ve had very little issue with anything since, and being very handy myself, I’ve been able to fix most everything that has happened. I am sinking over a grand into tree and stump removal, but I have saved up for that in my ‘extra’ saving account. Next will be window replacements all around.… Read more »

Money Saving
Money Saving
6 years ago
Reply to  Seester Sara

That must be one HUGE stump – good lord! Where I live you can rent your own commercial grade stump grinder for $400 for the day with delivery btw…

I did it once before and was able to get 18 stumps in one day.

Hoping to Adopt
Hoping to Adopt
6 years ago
Reply to  Money Saving

Seester Sara said, “I am sinking over a grand into tree and stump removal.”

Depending on the types of trees and how busy the trimmers are, you could easily spend that.

We had a large elm tree that got diseased. The city gave us a notice that we had 1 week to have it removed. We got multiple bids ranging from $300 to $1,100. We offered the job to the $450 guy for $350 cash, and he agreed.

Jane
Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  Money Saving

That is perfectly in line with what tree removal costs if the tree is big enough. So far we have spent around $2,000 removing dead mature trees in our backyard. And these were the cheap bids with no stump removal and no expensive bucket trucks! This might have to do with the fact that all the trees were located close to power lines. One company ended up losing money on the removal of a dead tree, since they snapped the power line and took out the power to a whole street. Oops! The power company ended up fining them $750.… Read more »

Waverly
Waverly
6 years ago

Good list! I have a couple of little nits to pick. Guest towels and a bath mat for the guest bathroom are not needs. They are wants. Unless you have only one towel per family member, there’s no need to buy new towels for guests. They will completely understand using an old towel. And if they don’t — well, you need to find nicer guests! Lawn care. This is a perfect example of finding a local teenager who wants to earn some extra money and can bring his or her own mower to your property. I agree with the other… Read more »

PawPrint
PawPrint
6 years ago
Reply to  Waverly

Good point about Freecycle. When I moved out of my house into an apartment, I gave some painting supplies to a friend and freecycled the rest.

Money Saving
Money Saving
6 years ago

#3 and #6 caught us unexpectedly when we moved into our new house. This is a great list that folks should be aware of before buying a new house.

Cportland
Cportland
6 years ago

$4,000 to repair sidewalks that are in good shape, but not code compliant according to the city.

Meredith
Meredith
6 years ago

We bought our house 9 months ago and I couldn’t agree more! Here are the things I never saw coming (I did actually see the lock changing and had that done day one 🙂 ): Pest control – what to do when all of the sudden we have carpenter ants coming in? This led to a $500 contract with Terminex plus they advised us that “nothing green should touch the house” which means we have to do landscaping to trim back all the bushes a foot and lay down rocks around the house outside. We have been trying to do… Read more »

Even Steven
Even Steven
6 years ago

I can’t emphasize enough buying less home than you are pre-approved for. I like that you are fixing up some items to make your house even more valuable in the long run.

1/2 acre, I used cut that amount with a mower with no engine, all you need is a blade on your mower and a pair of legs. JK I’m not that old, but I will say for a couple years we definetly mowed by hand(engine included).

Alex @ Credit Card XPO
Alex @ Credit Card XPO
6 years ago

I bought a brand new house about 10 years ago, the biggest expense that surprised me was the cost of custom window blinds. It costs about $100 average for each window and we have 20 windows! You do the math.

Wes T.
Wes T.
6 years ago

As a new home owner, I can personally attest to all of these surprises. I swear, we make a trip to Home Depot or Lowe’s at least once a week!

Blanca
Blanca
6 years ago

Oh wow!
Great list!
I’m considering purchasing my first house, and most of these things did not even cross my mind.
Thanks for the article!
Good thing you had some extra cash to cover these unforeseen expenses.

Mark S
Mark S
6 years ago

I set aside $200/mo for house repairs and upkeep. It helps a lot.

stellamarina
stellamarina
6 years ago

Regarding the property taxes. Not sure what the set up is in other states but here in Honolulu Hawaii, if you actually live in the house, you can get a homeowners exemption so that $40.000 or so of the house worth is tax free. It is not set up automatically when you buy the house….you have to notify the city and fill out a form. I think there is also a discount for old folks which I will be looking into soon. It is worth checking into the rules of your area.

Alex
Alex
6 years ago

These are great notes, and very important to think about for first time home buyers. A house costs a lot more than the mortgage payment. I’ve seen the rule of thumb for budgeting home maintenance between 1-2% of home value a year, on average. That seems roughly in line with what I’ve experienced, but DIY cuts keeps it to the lower end. A new roof or other major project though can bring you back to that average; 3-5% of value for a new roof, 1-2% for an external paint job or new carpets aren’t crazy estimates. Also, when you buy… Read more »

Amy
Amy
6 years ago

More than just the lawn, yard care. We’ve needed grass seed, pavers for a walkway, mulch, plants, pots for plants, soil for pots, etc. I recognize that these aren’t truly needs, but maintaining curb appeal is important for resale.) And, of course, I decided to start a veggie garden to save on food over the summer. But first we needed raised beds and large pots to plant in, soil and compost, seeds and plants, fertilizer, supports for plants, etc. Living off the land isn’t cheap! 🙂 Last year we learned that our water softener was no longer functional, and had… Read more »

micki
micki
6 years ago

these were good & timely, since i am buying a house soon. i’m set on the lawn since i already have a small business with mowers 🙂 thanks for reminding me about the locks & also to check to see if i have a home warranty!

Emma
Emma
6 years ago

Skyrocketing insurance premiums after a series of natural disasters. We went unconditional on our contract to purchase (I believe it is called escrow in the US) three days before the big earthquake in Feb 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The house was badly damaged but liveable. Major cracks through all the foundations but as it is timber construction it just bent, it didn’t fall down. We could have walked away but we would have lost our 25k deposit, now over three years later we are battling the insurance company for the repairs we are due, which incidentally total more than… Read more »

Diana
Diana
6 years ago

We found lack of storage and hidden repairs (closet doors falling off?) to be a surprise, as well as a surprise $5000 special assessment from our condo board for new windows we personally didn’t need. Our place was built in the 70s and has all it’s original (some purple!) finishings, so we’re slowly upgrading as we can.

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