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The hidden costs of home buying

I'm Sarah - wife to my amazing husband, John, and mom to two little girls, Cami and Maisie.  I used to work in the finance industry before having my daughters, and now I'm a freelance personal finance writer and blogger.  I love being wi...

Prepare ahead and save money

No doubt about it, buying your first home is expensive and can cost a significant amount more than expected when it's all said and done. Here are the hidden costs of purchasing your first home and ways to save money in the process.

Prepare ahead and save money

We all want the American dream, but sometimes attaining it isn't as easy as we think. Doing your research and being aware of all the costs involved is a good start, but also be sure you know all the steps involved in the homebuying process. The first step is educating yourself, and then you'll want to hire a Realtor.

Buyer beware

Prepare ahead and save money

Unexpected fees

OK, so a down payment probably isn't a "hidden" cost. Obviously, it is required to purchase a home — but it is important to plan ahead for the inevitable 3.5 percent down required for an FHA loan, or the 20 percent required for a traditional loan — this is a lot of money out of pocket. You'll also have to consider closing costs, HOA fees, homeowners insurance, appraisal fees, home inspection fees, escrow fees, credit report fees and and property taxes. While you may feel ready to buy a home, be sure to sit down and figure out exactly how much you can afford to spend.

Prepare ahead and save money

Yard work and upkeep

If the yard is not in good condition, anticipate spending upward of $1,000 to get it in working order. If you're lucky enough that it already is your dream backyard, still expect to spend a few hundred on yard tools for maintenance. Most people buying their first home come from an apartment where they didn't need the necessary tools to maintain a yard. Sprinkler systems, lawn mowers, tree trimmers, leaf blowers, rakes, shovels and hoses, grass seed and plants themselves can all cost a pretty penny, but are vital in keeping the yard in tip-top condition.

Prepare ahead and save money

Home cleaning and repairs

In general, you can factor in another few hundred dollars, or more, for general repairs needed on the home — possibly including new appliances, light fixtures, faucets, paint and cleaning supplies. Moving into a home with hardwood when you come from a place with carpet, for example, will require different cleaners. You may need to make minor repairs, such as replacing the garbage disposal or installing blinds on all the windows. There are always a lot of little things that need fixing or updating in a new home, and it can really add up. It is important to get a home inspection before closing on the home to make sure there are not any surprising repairs you need to make after purchasing it.

Ways to save

Prepare ahead and save money


For any aesthetic changes you wish to make, do it yourself when possible. The most common aesthetic change that makes a huge difference is changing paint colors. Professionals will charge around $200 per room for labor, plus the cost of paint. Make a day of it with your husband or recruit some friends to help. It's a great way to bond and will save you hundreds of dollars! If your husband or other family member is a handyman, ask for help when it comes to more challenging fixes.

Prepare ahead and save money

Furniture can wait

Going from a one-bedroom apartment to a three-bedroom home requires much more furniture than you already own. But don't feel the need to furnish every room right away. Leaving unused rooms empty until you can save up for furniture is the way to go. Plus, then you can get what you really want instead of buying cheap furniture to suit you in the meantime.

Prepare ahead and save money


Figure out your budget beforehand and stick to it. Before moving in, decide how much you can afford to spend sprucing the place up and don't go over it! The best and ultimate way to save money in any area of life is by creating a budget. Of course we all want a fancy house filled with Pottery Barn furniture, but that's usually not realistic for most of us. Spend the amount you've allotted in your budget, and save up for the rest. It will be well worth it in the long run.

More tips on buying a home

The benefits of buying a house
Quiz: Are you ready to buy a home
7 Things to know before buying a home

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