Free from tenancy

What costs to expect as a new homeowner.

You finally did it: you have qualified for a mortgage, picked out a house and are in the process of becoming a homeowner for the first time. Your dream is almost a reality, but be sure to consider the additional costs of homeownership before you take the keys. There are a lot of resources to browse including the Know Before You Owe materials developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

If you were renting an apartment, you may have suffered from loud neighbors or lack of freedom. Your individuality may have suffered from the cookie cutter design or wall colors. You cannot even express yourself with a paintbrush. When you are an owner, you can paint if you want to. However, with ownership comes a new level of responsibility. No longer can you call the landlord and complain. If something needs to be fixed, it is your responsibility. Some things that you can expect to be responsible for include:

  • Yard maintenance (You are now your own landlord)
  • Trash removal (And you could be fined if you don’t keep the place clean)
  • The roof
  • Windows
  • Siding
  • Doors
  • Snow removal
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Heating and air conditioning
  • Household appliances (refrigerator, freezer, washer, dryer, oven, stove, microwave, dishwasher, water softener, etc.)
  • Paint
  • Flooring

This list is by no means comprehensive. You can expect costs to be associated with each item. Your new mortgage payment may be the same or lower than your rent payment, but your budget may not have taken into account the additional costs and responsibilities. As part of your preparation look over a checklist of household maintenance items, so you can plan to put aside extra money for maintenance and repairs. Create an emergency fund to help cover unexpected expenses and ask the current owners for copies of utility bills to help you plan.

Other considerations that may increase costs are taxes and insurance. Taxes and insurance are usually paid as part of your new mortgage payment. The principal and interest that you pay are determined by your loan terms, but your taxes are calculated based on your new township, village, city or town. Due to the transition, these may be different from the previous owner’s. Talk to your local clerk ahead of time so you know what to expect. For example, are there any new projects that will be charged to the residents of your community like a new sewer line?

In addition to taxes, your mortgage payment will include your insurance, however you select the coverage. You may need certain coverage that is more costly than what your lender requires. Usually the more comprehensive the coverage, the higher the cost, so make sure to research your options. MIMoneyHealthl.org homeownership page is a good source.

These are just some of the additional costs that you can expect as a new homeowner. You can make the transition to homeownership smoother by planning ahead and doing research. Making financial changes takes time, patience, and discipline. Sometimes it helps to have help from a professional. To contact an expert in your area, visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464). There are also many resources available at mimoneyhealth.org.

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