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Hidden Home Costs

Money Matters

 House and family in background of sign that says sold.

Homeowners Can Pay Nearly $9,500 per Year in Hidden Costs, Zillow Finds

Homeowners can expect to spend about $9,390 every year on costs associated with owning and caring for a home, according to an analysis by online real estate company Zillow and local services company Thumbtack.

When it comes to buying a home, shoppers frequently focus on the sticker price or the monthly mortgage payments, but homeowners are also responsible for additional costs that are often overlooked during the home search, such as property taxes, insurance and maintenance projects.

One-third of buyers say that determining their homebuying budget was a challenge during the home shopping process.

To help understand these additional costs they may face, Zillow and Thumbtack identified several common costs to calculate what homeowners around the country can expect to pay in annual expenses.

This analysis also includes utility cost estimates from UtilityScore.

Property taxes, utilities and homeowners insurance are necessary expenses for homeowners

Nationally, these costs add up to $6,327 per year, but can be much higher in more expensive markets. In San Jose, where the typical home is worth $1,287,600, these costs add up to $17,255 per year, the highest of any market analyzed.

By contrast, these costs add up to $5,540 annually in Indianapolis, less than one-third of the San Jose total.

Many homeowners also opt to hire professionals for a variety of common home-maintenance projects, including house cleaning, lawn care, carpet cleaning, central air and heating system repairs, gutter cleaning and pressure washing.

The nationwide average cost of these tasks is $3,067 per year. Labor costs vary in different parts of the country, so these jobs can be much more expensive depending on where someone lives. In Portland, Oregon, homeowners can expect to pay $3,810 per year for these projects, compared with the $2,570 owners in Miami can expect to spend.

"Ongoing maintenance costs and annual fees are some of the most common surprises for first-time home buyers after they finally become homeowners. While they are shopping, buyers tend to focus on their monthly mortgage payments, but other needs quickly add up after move-in," said Zillow Senior Economist Aaron Terrazas. "The list price is just the beginning of understanding the costs that come with being a homeowner, and it's important to understand what other expenses you may have to account for when determining what you can afford."

"Many basic maintenance costs are often overlooked when calculating the cost of buying a home," said Lucas Puente, Lead Economist at Thumbtack. "It's imperative that those looking to buy a home do their homework to avoid any surprising charges."

By all means, research these costs before you buy – especially the property taxes you are likely to pay as the new owner. Also, be realistic --- as opposed to optimistic – about things like maintenance costs.

These days, with house prices so high, many homeowners are spending more than half their income on housing. A few unexpected expenses can really sink the family finances.