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What Homeownership Really Costs

If buyers want to avoid falling behind on their mortgage loans, they’ll want to consider more than just a home’s listing price—especially given new data just released by Zillow. According to Zillow and Thumbtack, the average U.S. homeowner spends an additional $9,080 on their home every year. In some cities, some spend as much as $16,000.

“Buyers too often focus on a home’s list price or mortgage payment to determine what they can afford,” Zillow reported. “However, the numerous less-obvious costs associated with homeownership can affect the monthly bottom line.”

In total, Zillow found that homeowners pay an average of $6,059 in “unavoidable costs,” which includes things like insurance, utilities, and taxes. These costs are highest in San Francisco, where homeowners pay more than $13,000 in unavoidable costs, and lowest in Indianapolis, where they pay just $4,699.

Maintenance and repair costs—including carpet cleaning, HVAC maintenance, gutter cleaning, yard work, and more—run the average homeowner about $3,021 per year. Maintenance costs are highest in Seattle ($4,052) and lowest in San Antonio ($1,962).

According to Svenja Gudell, Chief Economist at Zillow, considering these added costs is crucial when buying a home.

"Determining how much a home will ultimately cost you each year and what you can afford is one of the most challenging aspects of homebuying, especially for first-time buyers," Gudell said. "Before starting a home search, take a good look at your finances to determine a monthly payment range you can comfortably afford. While that big back yard or larger home may be appealing, it is important to consider how much maintaining those spaces could cost you."

All in, San Francisco had the highest total homeownership costs, with residents paying $16,290 per year. Boston came in at No. 2, with $14,377 in costs, while San Diego ($13,488), Seattle ($12,924), and Los Angeles ($12,556) rounded out the top five.

According to Zillow, more than a third of U.S. buyers go over their initial budget when buying a home. To help buyers better estimate these costs and factor them into their homebuying decisions, Zillow recently launched RealEstate.com, which offers an “all-in monthly pricing” calculator. It includes mortgage payments, taxes, HOA fees, insurance costs, and more.

Read the full report at Zillow.com.

About Author: Aly J. Yale

Aly J. Yale is a longtime writer and editor from Texas. Her resume boasts positions with The Dallas Morning News, NBC, PBS, and various other regional and national publications. She has also worked with both the Five Star Institute and REO Red Book, as well as various other mortgage industry clients on content strategy, blogging, marketing, and more.
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