What is The TRUE Cost of Home Ownership?

by Fireside Realty Group 09/15/2019

You found the perfect home. It has everything you want from location to bedrooms to that art studio in the back, AND the mortgage payment will be lower than or the same as your current rent. You got qualified for the loan and the agent has all the paperwork ready to go. So that’s it, right? Time to buy!

In all the excitement of finding that new home, it’s easy to ignore the warning signs of “overspending” and forget that there are more costs than just the mortgage payment. This can be a dangerous game because once those papers are signed, you are stuck with your purchase. 

Additional Monthly Costs
For the best home-buying experience, calculate ALL your monthly costs and try to budget that into your life before you make any final decisions. Determine what you are willing to give up in order to get that extra bedroom or live in that perfect neighborhood. Some additional monthly charges include:

  • PMI “Private Mortgage Insurance”: Pay attention to the mortgage you qualify for and make sure to calculate for PMI in your new monthly budget if it applies. PMI exists to protect your lender in case you default on your mortgage loan. It’s usually included when you have a lower credit score or a smaller down payment and can range from $75 to $300 per month or more.
  • Homeowners Insurance: You’ve been paying renters insurance for a while now probably, but homeowners’ insurance is a completely different ball game. Your insurance cost will be based on the estimated cost to fix or rebuild your home after a catastrophic event, NOT its market value. That means any special features with historic value, specialty windows, etc. will increase the price. Also check out if the home is in a weather damage area, somewhere prone to tornadoes, flooding, hail, etc. It also covers everything inside your home from furnishings to clothes and electronics. The more stuff you have, the greater the cost to insure it.
  • Property Tax: Unlike tenants, owners pay taxes to local governments for schools, roads, city governments, etc. These vary greatly from area to area, so be sure to find a good local property tax calculator to help estimate what those charges will be. If you’re buying a home in a new neighborhood or a gentrifying one, there may be additional taxes to cover the cost of roads, streetlights, parks, and other new area features.
  • Association Fees/Dues: Nearly all condos belong to Home Owners Associations (HOAs). Depending on the neighborhood you choose, your single-family home may belong to one as well. HOAs handle neighborhood maintenance including streetlights, pool upkeep, exterior maintenance, parks, and even security. HOA dues can range from $50ish per month up into the hundreds of dollars or even more.
  • Services: You know all those utilities and local services currently included in your rent? As an owner, you must pay for all of them separately. That means water, power, trash, sewage, recycling, internet, cable, and phone bills all get added on top of your monthly payments as well. Some cities such as Austin, Texas, also have local monthly fees separate from property taxes, usually to cover extra city features like parks.

Other Costs
The most difficult costs to calculate or plan for are maintenance costs. If your landlord currently covers bug treatments, light bulbs, paint, carpeting, landscaping and generally all other maintenance, you will need to try and estimate how much of that you’ll need to pay for in your new home. There is no one else to pitch in, so this can end up being a huge additional cost.

So, How Do I Buy a Home Safely?
First, find yourself a good agent. A well-qualified agent who is familiar with your area and property needs can help you figure most of these costs. All you must do is ask. If your agent is unable or unwilling to help you plan for these, find yourself a new agent.

Ask your agent today if they can help you put together a true cost budget for each of the homes you’re interested in, that way you can make the best-informed decision. 
About the Author
Author

Fireside Realty Group

The Fireside Promise

5-Star Customer Experiences

We don’t just talk about it. We are about it.

The number one promise at Fireside Realty Group is to always put our client and their needs first. For this reason, providing expert service during every step of the real estate process is nonnegotiable and is something our clients can expect. Our expert staff manages every part of the transaction – Sales, Staging, Photography, Contract-to-Close, Listing Management and Marketing, Technology and Systems, Mortgage Lender Referrals, and Make-Ready Services – to ensure our client’s have a 5-Star Experience. 

How is this different?

Traditional brokerages have little or no concern with the client (buyer/seller) and leave it 100% up to their self-employed real estate agent to deliver the knowledge and service (or lack thereof). This means there is no consistent quality or standard of care and limited service by virtue of the capacity of a single agent. All of this can be risky for the customer. 

Real Estate Specialization & Expertise

Being a “jack of all trades” is a thing of the past.

Mediocrity is not an option at Fireside Realty Group, which is why our agents have areas of specialization and work as experts in their specialty. This means that every Fireside client will work with a real estate professional who has the knowledge and expertise to tend to their specific real estate concerns. You wouldn’t go to a cardiologist to solve a problem with your foot – you would go to a podiatrist! So for instance, why buy a mountain investment property from a typical agent who owns no mountain investment property? 

How is this different?

At Fireside you work with a team of expert agents who are trained to help with a variety of specific real estate needs. If you have a need that isn’t a fit for the agent you are currently working with, we will gladly refer you to another expert, or even outside the company if that is the best course of action…which is not the case in most brokerages.

Technology Delivered

It’s not just a shiny penny!

We invest in and use technology to ensure that Fireside Realty Group operations makes good on our promise of a 5-Star Experience. We have carefully tested and filtered out the gimmicks from the tools that really work. ALL agents are trained to use our technologies, tools, and systems in order to deliver the level of service that is required.

How is this different?

Other brokerages leave technology choices up to their agents. What this means is a lack of consistency because each agent uses a different system and operates based on their own individual preferences. We think you and your home or investment are too important to leave it up to a lone ranger agent and whatever tools they have at hand. 

Our Leaders = Practitioners

We Practice What We Preach.

All Fireside agents have personally purchased and sold at least five homes, so they have first-hand knowledge of the client-side experience. This has shed light on areas in which the real estate experience was lacking and needed improvement. Our leaders have taken that learning and built a solid foundation for Fireside in which they continue to work in and improve all facets of the company including sales, contract-to-close and client responses in order to truly understand . 

How is this different?

Other real estate companies are filled with sales managers and leaders who are full of good intentions but have no experience working with the buying/selling customer, or whose experience is no longer relevant in today’s market. In these companies, the systems, tools, and advice for customers comes from theory or outdated practices.