Homeowners are surprised by the cost of taxes, utilities, maintenance

Personal Finance

Homeownership might be more expensive than you expect.

Often-forgotten and underestimated costs of owning a home — from utility bills to yard care — add an average $9,080 per year to homeowners’ tabs, according to a new analysis from real estate site Zillow and service site Thumbtack. (See a breakdown by major markets, below.)

Hidden costs can be especially dangerous given buyers’ tendency to overspend. Nearly 4 in 10 first-time buyers exceed their budget, per Zillow.

“Determining how much a home will ultimately cost you each year and what you can afford is one of the most challenging aspects of home buying, especially for first-time buyers,” Zillow’s chief economist, Svenja Gudell, said in the announcement. “Before starting a home search, take a good look at your finances to determine a monthly payment range you can comfortably afford.”

To avoid making a purchase you’ll regret, make sure to include property taxes, insurance and utilities in your budget, said Kevin Meehan, a certified financial planner and regional president of Wealth Enhancement Group in Itasca, Illinois. (By Zillow’s estimate, those three line items alone add more than $500 to the typical homeowner’s monthly costs.)

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