Closing on a house is expensive, but don’t spend every penny in your bank account. There are a lot more expenses to come, both one-time bills and ongoing fees, so set aside money to prepare for them.
Expenses When You Move in
Your new house might need some repairs. You should’ve gotten an inspection report, but contractors often realize after starting work that problems are worse than they initially seemed. Also, inspectors don’t check everything, so you may find some additional problems later.
You may have to make some purchases to make your home comfortable, such as new appliances, furniture, carpet and lighting. Figure out what you’ll need, and set a budget.
Be prepared for setup and installation fees for cable, internet and phone services. If your new home is bigger than your previous residence, expect significantly higher electricity and heating bills than you’re used to.
The previous owners, plus their family members, friends and contractors who did work at the house in the past, may still have keys. Changing the locks can give you peace of mind, but it can come with a hefty price tag.
You’ll have to buy homeowners insurance to protect you if your house gets damaged by a storm or fire, if someone gets injured on the property or if your belongings are stolen. The cost will depend on your location, the company, the types and amounts of coverage you choose, and whether you bundle your homeowners insurance with one or more other policies.
If you put down less than 20 percent of the purchase price and took out a conventional loan, you’ll have to buy private mortgage insurance (PMI) to protect the lender in case you default. The cost depends on the size of your mortgage. Many homeowners pay hundreds of dollars per month for PMI.
Property taxes will be assessed based on the value of your home. You may receive a bill one or more times per year, or an additional charge for property taxes may be tacked onto your monthly mortgage payments. Either way, plan for it.
If your house belongs to a homeowners association (HOA), you’ll have to pay fees to maintain the common areas. HOA fees vary widely based on the location and amenities offered. If you don’t follow the HOA’s rules, you can face steep fines, so be sure you understand the policies and costs.
You’ll also need to budget for home repairs, routine maintenance, lawncare, gutter cleaning and other tasks. If you’d rather not shoulder all that responsibility yourself, you can pay others, but those bills can add up.
Many homeowners, particularly people who have recently bought their first home, feel overwhelmed by expenses. This is why planning and budgeting are essential. Make a list of all the one-time fees you’ll face after closing, plus recurring costs, and set aside money for those, as well as other expenses that may crop up.