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There Are Hidden Costs to Owning a Home

Joseph Coupal - Friday, April 27, 2012

Low mortgage rates and more affordable home prices in the Columbia, SC area are creating an interest in home ownership by those who live in apartments. However, potential buyers who are unprepared for the true cost of owning a home may be shocked by the bite home ownership can take out of their wallet in addition to their mortgage payments.

Inspection and Appraisal Fees
Before you purchase a home you need to pay for a home inspection, and an appraisal, possible even inspections for pests or radon. The costs of these inspections are borne by buyers and are a necessary protection to avoid buying a flawed property or paying too much.

Closing Costs
Buyers need to be prepared with the cash for anywhere from 2% to 4% of the mortgage balance depending on your area.

As a homeowner, you'll need to pay property taxes, which are generally part of the escrow you pay into each month. Remember, even if you have a fixed-rate home loan, your property taxes could go up and increase your monthly housing costs.

Your lender will require home insurance, the cost of which depends on factors including the construction materials of your home and the location. Even if you have renter's insurance, you'll find that home insurance costs more because you are paying for the ability to rebuild your home in addition to replacing your personal possessions. Insurance costs will rise over time, and you will need supplemental insurance if you live in a flood zone.

HOA and Condo Fees
If you buy a home within a homeowners' association or a condominium association, you'll be required to pay a monthly or quarterly fee. These fees can rise, or your association may need to charge a special assessment for projects such as repaving the parking lot or repairing a roof.

Utility Bills
Depending on where you live, your costs for electricity, gas and water could be higher when you move into your own home than when you live in an apartment in West Columbia, SC. You may also need to pay for garbage collection along with your Internet, cable and phone bill.

While this is essentially a discretionary expense, most people who move from an apartment to a larger home need to buy at least some new furniture.

Lawn Care
Whether you handle your yard work yourself or hire a professional, you will have to pay something to keep your landscaping in check. Lawn equipment can be costly and you may need a leaf bloweror other lawn equipment, too.

Home maintenance costs time and money. While you may be able to change your furnace filters, clean your gutters and keep your appliances running smoothly yourself, you may also need to hire a contractor to clean and inspect your chimney and to keep your heating and air conditioning system in top shape.

While maintenance tasks can be predictable, the most costly part of home ownership typically comes with unexpected repairs such as replacing or repairing the roof, removing a tree, or paying for mold mitigation in a damp basement. The list of possibilities is endless, so homeowners should set aside savings for an emergency. Experts suggest budgeting for 1% or 2% of your mortgage balance as a yearly maintenance and repair fund.

The Bottom Line
Buying a home costs more than you think. If you don’t expect to stay in your home for at least seven to 10 years, contact Abberly Village Apartment Homes.

SF Gate

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