If you’re a first home buyer, you could be in for a few surprises regarding the costs of home ownership. From breakages to council fees, body corporate costs and buildings insurance, ongoing expenses can soon mount up.
When searching for a home, consider the ongoing costs of owning each property. For example, generally older homes will need more maintenance, and larger dwellings may attract higher council fees. Know what you’re likely to spend on all these costs, so you can budget for the short, mid and long term future.
Regular costs of home ownership
Many of the costs associated with owning a home are ongoing, billed monthly, or annual. Regular rates are easier to budget for as they are often set for a long period. Most of these ongoing costs can be fairly closely calculated before the home purchase, so you may be able to minimise surprises that make the home more difficult to afford.
An obvious one to account for – depending on your lender, your repayments may be weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Most lenders offer flexible repayment options to suit your pay cycle.
Home loan account fees
Some home loan accounts may have fees attached. This may be a small monthly charge similar to an everyday transaction account, or the fee could be much larger and charged annually.
Council rates are charged to every home for civic services and infrastructure. Generally houses attract higher rates than units, and the size of the property also has an effect. Check with the vendor, real estate agent, or your local council for specific property rates in your jurisdiction.
Body corporate fees
Units and apartments may be charged body corporate fees for the upkeep of common areas and some utilities if dwellings aren’t individually metred.
Insuring your new home against damage is imperative to protect your investment. Your lender may require proof of insurance to ensure their investment in your property is covered should the unexpected happen.
When you own a home all the utilities are your responsibility. This can come as a bit of a shock for those who come from renting an apartment where gas, water and sewerage have been included. Obviously, the larger the property and the more residents, the higher utility bills will likely be.
Ad hoc payments
Repairs and maintenance are another expense that rest on the homeowners shoulders. If buying a unit some general maintenance may be included in your body corporate fees, though these will be external to your property. It’s important to stay on top of maintenance to avoid deterioration to the property which may result in loss of value.
General maintenance tasks are your bread and butter. These often include things such as cleaning the gutters, tightening leaky taps and ensuring air conditioning filters are free from dirt. Keeping fixtures in a good condition can avoid more expensive repairs in the future.
Breakages and repairs
However much you tinker, clean, and tighten, breakages happen and repairs are required. If you’re pretty handy you could have a go at fixing some things yourself, for others you’ll need a professional.
Your home will be your castle, so you can do with it what you like (within the law!) Renovations, extensions, and new features can be added that extend the property’s footprint, or give a room a new lease of life, but it all costs money.
Properties start to look tired and dated after a number of years and require investment to maintain their value. Renovations can be everything from installing a new kitchen, creating extra storage, or completely redecorating. You may have budget for this before the purchase, or make changes gradually over the years, but it’s an ongoing expense that can drain budgets if not planned.
This is when the walls come down and the layout of your home is changed. You may need to create more bedrooms from your space, or want to create an open plan living area for the family. Remodeling is expensive, so always be sure you’re not spending more than your property is worth if you are concerned about getting your money back one day.