The prospect of a new home is exciting. It’s the start of a new chapter. It’s the reward for all the time you spent saving for that burdensome down payment. You deserve to enjoy your new home, but you should know—the down payment is just the beginning. As a homeowner, your bills increase seemingly exponentially as maintenance costs, community fees, and mortgages rear their ugly head.
Fear not. The three tips below will help you cope with your increased fiscal obligation in no time:
Draft a new budget.
Chances are your mortgage payment is considerably different from your previous rent payment. So, of course, you need to come up with a new budget; but keep in mind, there’s more to it. What about electricity? What about heat? If your previous place was 1,000 square feet, and your new house is 2,000 square feet, it only makes that your utilities are bound to drastically rise as well, if not double.
Consider everything when you draft a new budget, and leave a margin for error if possible. Track your expenses for a few months so you better understand how your costs have truly changed. So many unforeseen costs often arise that the only way to get a real handle on personal finance is to make note of it and objectively analyze it.
Money is not some free-flowing abstract concept. It’s a tangible and measurable asset. Treat it as such.
Prepare to spend money on maintenance.
This may sound similar to what I said above. It’s not. What I said above is draft a new budget, leave a margin for error, and recognize your costs will increase. Now I’m saying prepare yourself to spend money on maintenance—a lot more. In fact, most homeowners cite spending as much as one to four percent of their homes’ value on repairs and upkeep every year.
So if you have a $400k home, it’s not unreasonable to spend anywhere from $4k to $16k on general maintenance. Plus, if you have more major costs (like replacing a shoddy heating system, for instance), your costs could be even higher.
Be ready for increased property taxes,
Property taxes come from the assessed value of your house and your local tax rates. When you first purchase your new home, you will be advised of your current property tax obligation. However, this does not, by any means, imply your property tax will remain at that number.
In actuality, property taxes often increase from year to year. In 2000, local governments generated about $247b in property taxes. In 2010? It was $476b, even with the housing crisis at the time.
Make sure you account for these increases in your budget. Since’ it’s quite literally impossible to guess if and how much property taxes will increase every year, the only way to protect yourself is to leave extra room in your budget.
Buying a home is incredibly exciting but can be tremendously stressful. Manage your finance and your comfort with these tips.