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Mortgage & Home Buying

First-Time Homebuyer? Prepare for These 7 Costs

As real estate markets re-open across the country, current historically-low mortgage rates may make it seem like the perfect time to purchase your first home. For many, owning a home is a big part of the American Dream. There’s a sense of pride and accomplishment in ownership. It can give you greater freedom and privacy, while also adding to your financial security. However, purchasing a home is also a substantial responsibility and commitment—not to mention one of the largest (if not the largest) purchases you’ll make in your life. One of the most common mistakes first-time homeowners may make is spending more than they can afford by overlooking the "true" cost of homeownership. When budgeting for your first home, here are seven often overlooked costs that can have a big impact on your bottom line:

1. Property Taxes

When shopping for a new home, pay attention to the property taxes! Property taxes not only vary wildly state-to-state, but also within the same city.

2. Closing Costs

Buyers are often so focused on the purchase price of their home and the initial down-payment, it can be all too easy for closing costs to get overlooked. Due at the time the buyer closes on the home, these fees include things like mortgage taxes, lender application fees, attorney’s fees, title insurance, and appraisal fees that typically range from 2-5% of your home’s purchase price. So, for a $750,000 home, you should expect to pay anywhere between $15,000 to $37,500 in addition to your mortgage payment. Make sure you factor these costs into your budget when deciding what you can afford.

3. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

If your down payment is less than 20% of the home’s price, you usually are required by the lender to take out a private mortgage insurance policy until you have accrued 20% equity in your home. This policy protects the lender in case you default on the loan. PMI typically amounts to .5% - 2% of the entire loan amount on an annual basis—which could add up to several thousand extra dollars a year.

4. Homeowner’s Insurance

Many first-time buyers often underestimate the cost of homeowner’s insurance. According to, the national average annual homeowner’s insurance payment is currently $1,244.

5. Utility Costs

If you’re used to apartment living, it’s important to note that the utility costs for a home with a single family footing the bill will be significantly higher. You’ll want to consider electric, gas, water, sewer, cable, telephone, and internet. When shopping for a new home, it can be a good idea to estimate what the monthly utilities typically run so that you can get a realistic expectation of what you should expect to pay.

You’ll also want to factor in potential Home Owners Association (HOA) costs. An HOA generally covers expenses related to maintaining the neighborhood and common areas. Be sure to ask your realtor if there are any HOA fees associated with the home you’re viewing.

6. Moving Costs

Although it’s a one-time cost, a same-city move averages $1,000, and can go up from there depending on the size of your house and distance, so make sure you factor it in.

7. Home Maintenance and Repairs

Even if you buy a home that’s move-in ready, it’s important to have a "rainy day" fund ready for when  the AC goes bad or you finally need a new roof. Depending on your home’s age, homeowners should plan to save 1 to 4% of your home’s value each year to be able to cover repair and maintenance expenses that will come up.

Home buying might seem like a complicated process, but with the right planning, budgeting, and preparation, it can be incredibly rewarding. Call one of our knowledgeable Mortgage Loan Consultants for more information. Additionally, you can request a complimentary Total Cost Analysis to help you understand the full cost of home-buying.

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Content courtesy of GreenPath Financial Wellness

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