Becoming a homeowner is an important step, and I am especially grateful for having succeeded under difficult circumstances.
First, I lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is undermine many of my millennial colleagues’ homeownership goals.
Then there was the surprisingly competitive housing market. I was very lucky and managed to land one of the increasingly rare affordable homes in my city: Reflection of a national trend, there are less than 20 homes for sale under $ 275,000 in my mountain town of Asheville, NC.
And although say goodbye to the advance payment – an amount I had worked so hard to save – was scary, I had a monthly mortgage to hope for that was cheaper than the rent I had paid for years.
But the relief didn’t last long: As it turned out, there were a myriad of unforeseen costs to contend with in my first month of homeownership.
Here are a few to watch out for if you are thinking of owning a home.
My monthly mortgage includes private mortgage insurance
One of the unexpected costs that I paid in my first month, and that I will have to get used to paying for a while, is Private mortgage insurance.
The PMI, as it’s called, is meant to protect your lender in the event of your mortgage default, and it’s required for home buyers who have put less than 20% down.
Eventually, I won’t have to pay that extra $ 100 per month, but it will be years before my payments hit 20% of the home equity.
Roofs, even the simplest, are quite expensive – especially when they are environmentally friendly
Speaking of insurance, your home insurance company may have surprises in store for you.
I thought I was clear after relaying over the phone the basics of my water, my heating, and the year the roof was built. But a few weeks after I moved in, insurance sent someone to do an in-person assessment, and repairs that I thought I could postpone a bit longer had to be dealt with immediately in order to stay covered, starting with the roof.
With the immediate pressure to replace the roof, I (luckily) knew at least what I wanted: a shiny metal roof. But when I saw the price, I almost gave in and went for asphalt.
In the end, I decided it was better to have a roof that I really liked to see every day, even though it came at a cost. And after shopping around I found a metal roof that was priced less than asphalt shingles, but it was still $ 800 more.
Whether it’s replacing the water heater, furnace, or old windows, tackling the job in an eco-friendly way often comes at an additional cost, although you’ll usually save money in the long run because of the cost. ‘efficiency.
I changed the locks, mostly because my house had been a rental
I didn’t realize the house was a rental until I got the keys, and at that point the prudent decision was to change the locks.
Even if the house had not been a rental, I would still have had to pay an expense: I did not receive all the keys. There was a door with a deadbolt and no matching key, leaving no recourse but to replace the entire lock.
The sewage got back into my basement
Bringing sewage up into the basement is as disastrous as it sounds, especially considering how much stuff has been stored there.
The city was at fault, so the cost of fixing the problem didn’t fall on me at least. But many items were destroyed, resulting in a substantial unexpected cost. It was the first time I really missed having an owner to shoulder the burden.
The back-flow of wastewater was primarily linked to a costly underground problem
The city’s best guess was that the sewage problem was caused by root growth underground.
And what’s under your house might surprise you when it comes to the cost of maintenance.
For example, I thought digging up bamboo shoots would be a job that required a few hours of paid labor. It turns out that a substantial bamboo eviction requires much, much more than a few hours of labor.
And since there’s no way of knowing what’s really going on underground, you might have to plan for some expensive surprises.
I had to pay for a storage locker
Speaking of tidying things up in the basement, these floors needed to be repainted before I could put my things away downstairs, so I had to keep my things in a storage locker in the meantime.
Even if you might want to opt for finishing the floors before you move in, you’d better factor in the cost of storage, which I didn’t.
DIY projects will save you on labor costs, but materials don’t come cheap
Speaking of soils, this was one of the projects I tackled myself.
I was fortunate enough to have access to a library of tools, so the floor primer didn’t come with a hefty rental price for a sander.
However, I was so busy savoring how much I had saved by not hiring a professional that I vastly underestimated the price of a polyurethane stain and finish.
One thing I’ve learned when it comes to materials for house projects: Buy the biggest container. Always. It is less expensive. And you will need it.