The Unexpected for First-Time Homebuyers

Buying your first home is a very exciting life milestone that can be both exciting and surprising. Those that have been homeowners for a while can tell you that there are some things that caught them by surprise about owning a home. They can share both the good and the bad of homeownership. Facebook asked first-time home buyers what were the unexpected that homeowners should know. There are 4,600 new homeowners who responded to the Facebook question and here are the answers that were given.

1. The amount of maintenance a home requires – especially if it’s a single-family house

Maintenance is a big part of homeownership and it can catch many first-time homebuyers by surprise with the amount of money, time, and work it takes to keep a home up and running. According to Zillow, 32% of buyers said they had buyer’s remorse after purchasing a home because of the amount of maintenance that is involved.

“Everything breaks down. The washing machine was broken, and water came into our sliding door on the lower level when the snow melted. The worst part was the driveway sunk into a 3-foot hole,” responded new homeowner Dawn Alexander-Martin.

There are different amounts of maintenance on a home that can depend on what type of home you purchase. A condo will have less maintenance due to the fact that a homeowners association will take care of the exterior, landscaping, and shared hallways.

2. The added – and changing – the cost of property taxes and homeowners insurance

Many buyers choose a fixed-rate mortgage because the payment will remain the same throughout the life of the mortgage. Even though this does not change, the property taxes and property insurance will change over the life of the mortgage. This means your monthly payments will also change because the money collected in escrow each year will be different.

“Taxes will go up, as will insurance. It’s a given. Make sure you can afford MORE THAN you are approved for, as even with a fixed rate mortgage, costs will increase steadily – and often quicker than you may be prepared for,” comments Sandi Diana-Schultz of Lombard.

3. The degree to which you could benefit from tax write offs

This is a big plus! When you own you do not have to worry about a landlord and you will get a tax break. When you own a home you can write off the interest you paid throughout the year on your mortgage. In order to better understand the potential tax benefits you can find them on Tax Breaks for Homeowners.

4. The degree to which neighbors can affect the quality of your life

Neighbors can be a plus but if they are not good neighbors, this can ruin your home life to some degree. Here are just a few of the Facebook replies that will be a benefit to use before you purchase.

“Check out the neighbors! Not just a quick drive by. Walk through the neighborhood, talk to them, visit them. Nothing worse than buying the house of your dreams in the middle of Hades, exclaims Lee West.

“Before you buy, meet the neighbors! They can make or break your experience, and impact the value of your equity,” writes Bill Lawton.

Donna Petraglia replies,”For me, it’s the neighbors. Not just the neighborhood itself, but who you are going to have to look at and listen to when you walk out the door.”

5. The amount of knowledge required to keep up a home

When you rent and something breaks, you just call the landlord to have it fixed, but this is not the case when you are a homeowner. It is all up to you to make sure your HVAC, appliances, water pipes and electricity is working. If something breaks, then you will need to fix it or hire a professional to do the job.

“Know your house, the sprinkler system, water and gas valve shut off, the hot water heater, water softener. Learn to fix things,” remarks Gloria Hernandez Denison.

6. The relatively stable monthly living costs, even when the real estate market is volatile

“When the (stock) market goes down, poof there goes your money and you have to wait until the market comes back to gain what you lost and there are fees involved for someone to take care of your investments. On the other hand, if the housing market goes down, you still have a roof over your head. Unless you’re anxious to sell, you have not really lost anything because it’s still your home. Of course, there is maintenance on anything you own, but unlike cars, your value goes up, not down,” Robin Herrera replied.

7. How external factors can affect your property

A homeowner’s association can have rules of what you can and cannot do to your property. Even if you do not live in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association, there still can be county zoning rules that can impact your property.

“Make sure you look at the whole property and what it entails. We didn’t know we had pipelines and didn’t know we couldn’t build a shed or didn’t know they could take away our trees at any time. Just be very, very careful,” advises Marie Camp.

Cathy Mccoy adds,”If the property borders anything other than a road and other residential properties, look at that carefully! Abandoned railroad tracks, a corn field, an empty lot, anything that can change has the potential to change your home life.”

9. That you are liable for repairs at your condo even if the problem existed before you moved in

A reply from Dan Mortimer told a story about moving from his single-family home to a condo. He was looking forward to leaving behind the maintenance and expenses of his single-family home to live in his condo. Once he had moved into his condo, he discovered that the building had not been maintained and in order for it to be fixed all the condo owners must pay a special assessment to have the building repaired. Even though he was living in the condo for just a few short months, he still had to pay for something that should have been fixed years before he was there.

If you are a first-time homebuyer or just looking to purchase a new home, make sure to choose a local real estate agent who can help you with the home-buying process from start to finish. They can talk you through all of the unexpected upkeep and expenses and find which type of home is right for you.

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