Whether you’re searching homes for sale in Chicago or vacation homes in sunny Sarasota, FL, a mortgage calculator is the first step to understanding the cost to purchase your dream home. Comprehensive and logical, a mortgage calculator walks you through the loan amount, term, and interest rate.
But while your mortgage payment is the bulk of your monthly home costs, there are other financial considerations outside of the loan calculator result that you should factor into your monthly budget. Here are five additional costs you might not have accounted for.
Homeowners’ association (HOA) fees
Homeowners’ association dues are paid to a group within a community that creates and enforces rules for property owners. Typically paid quarterly, the fee covers a variety of services such as garbage pickup, use of the common areas and utilities, and insurance. In addition, it’s not uncommon to be charged a fee for violating HOA guidelines. Rules vary by neighborhood and HOA but often include restrictions against parking cars on the street in front of your home, painting your home an unapproved color, or letting your lawn become overgrown. Familiarize yourself with homeowners’ association rules upfront and keep your violation charges to a minimum.
The cost of a home insurance policy depends on where your home is located and the type of coverage you require. If you’re thinking of purchasing a bungalow in Fort Lauderdale, FL, be prepared to pony up big cash for hurricane coverage; the cost of your policy could be $500 a month. However, if your market is Seattle, earthquake insurance isn’t mandatory, and if you don’t have it, your policy will be less expensive. Just understand that if the big one hits, you’re not covered. Keep your insurance needs in mind and add the cost to the monthly payment generated by the mortgage calculator.
Property taxes are based on the value of the property and differ with each municipality. Your taxes are typically paid into an escrow account with your loan payment; the bank remits your tax payment to the city on your behalf. However, the tax payment is above and beyond your loan payment computed by the mortgage calculator. Estimating taxes can be tricky, but it’s a good starting point for a conversation with your loan officer.
Utility costs can vary widely with season and geography. Summer cooling costs in Atlanta may put you in a cold sweat, while heating costs in Helena, MT, could get downright expensive. Consider enrolling in your utility company’s year-round payment fund to help offset high seasonal energy costs. Also consider that if you’ve been renting, your landlord may have been covering the water/sewer/garbage bills, which you are now responsible for as a homeowner.
Repairs and maintenance
There’s no landlord to call anymore. When things go wrong, it’s now your responsibility to fix the leaky plumbing or broken HVAC. Whether you’re the DIY queen or calling in the professionals, houses take cash to maintain. An inspection at the time of purchase can help identify problem areas, but if two months after closing the refrigerator blows up, Houston, you have a problem. Build up your savings so you don’t have to be stressed with every little situation that arises.
The mortgage calculator is a great place to begin estimating the ongoing monthly cost of your new home. But you’ll still need to factor in these extras, and it’s always good to have money saved up for repairs and maintenance, to help keep your home a place of joy rather than stress.