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  • 8 Surprise expenses for new homeowners

    2016-03-02 10:14:57 Posted By Jila Rezai

    This article is by writer April Dykman. 

    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. 

    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. 

    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. 

    We had to replace a garage door opener, an AC motor (and it was an expensive one), and a water heater. 

    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. 

    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). 

    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. 

    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. 

    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!