12 Hidden Costs of Homeownership

How much cash you’ll really need to buy and maintain a home.


Slide Show: 12 Hidden Costs of Homeownership


11. Ongoing maintenance. Although that big backyard might be a great place to grill burgers, it's also an expense. As a homeowner, it's your responsibility to keep your property maintained. That means raking the leaves, mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges, and clearing out the gutters, among other tasks. (Unless, of course, you live in a development that handles these chores for you.) To maintain the exterior property, you may have to buy a lawnmower, a hedge trimmer, or other equipment that you didn't need when you lived in an apartment. "If you are a first-time buyer, you may fail to appreciate just how much stuff you need to buy in order to manage your home," Gumbinger says.

12. Repairs. Remember, when you move out of that apartment, there's no longer a landlord to call when the sink backs up. Instead, it's up to you to contact—and pay—the plumber. And the sink is just one of the many home features or appliances that homeowners may one day need to repair. Homeowners are encouraged to set aside funds to take care of such repairs when they become necessary. And because broken appliances can be a major hassle and a significant expense, Ron Phipps, a broker with Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., recommends that buyers put key appliances under warrantee. "What we really recommend is that the buyer negotiate into the transaction a home warrantee for one year," Phipps says. "That's about a $500 item, and if [the buyer] gets the seller to pay for it, that minimizes [the cost]."