U.S. Homeowners Can Spend More Than $9,000 Per Year in Hidden Homeownership Costs and Maintenance Expenses

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The FINANCIAL — Homeowners say the most stressful part about owning a home is the extra or hidden costsi. That may be because U.S. homeowners can pay more than $9,000 in hidden and home maintenance costs every year, according to a new analysis by Zillow, one of the leading real estate marketplaces on mobile and web, and Thumbtack, a marketplace for connecting consumers with service professionals.

To help first-time buyers better plan for the expenses associated with homeownership, Zillow and Thumbtack calculated several unavoidable, hidden costs like property taxes and insurance, as well as five common outsourced maintenance costs, like yard care and carpet cleaning, for the nation and across 15 metros.

Nationally, homeowners pay an average $6,042 per year in unavoidable hidden costs, which include homeowners insurance, property taxes and utilitiesii. Homeowners in the Boston metro can expect to pay $9,413 annually – the highest in the markets analyzed – primarily due to high property taxes. Compare that to Phoenix, where homeowners pay an average $4,513 for these same costs.

And while DIY is often the preference of many homeowners when it comes to cleaning their home or doing yardwork, those who choose to outsource find equally variable costs across the regions. Users on Thumbtack often request help for house cleaning, yard care, gutter cleaning, carpet cleaning, and pressure washing. These tasks add up to an average $3,435 per year on a national leveliii. In San Francisco, homeowners will pay closer to $4,653 per year – the highest in the metros analyzed –compared to Denver homeowners who pay around $2,782 for the same projects.

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“Home buyers too often fixate on the sticker price or monthly mortgage payment on a house, and don’t budget for the other expenses associated with ownership – which can add up quickly,” says Amy Bohutinsky, Zillow chief marketing officer. “For example, new buyers can get really excited about having a backyard of their own for the first time, without budgeting for how they plan to maintain that space.”

For buyers who may be relocating to a different area of the country, the difference in hidden and home maintenance costs are important to consider when budgeting. For example, median home values in Phoenix and Philadelphia are fairly comparable at $201,800 and $200,500, respectively. However, buyers in Philadelphia could spend an additional $3,648 every year to cover the same hidden, unavoidable costs as a homeowner in Phoenix, and an extra $755 per year in maintenance costs.

“Maintaining a home is time consuming and costly, and in some regions hiring help gets you more bang for your buck than in others,” says Jon Lieber, Thumbtack chief economist. “As we know, this winter was especially harsh in some parts of the country, and in the aftermath, homeowners can face a lot of unexpected expenses to keep their home in top condition. It’s imperative for buyers to consider these inherent maintenance costs when budgeting for their big purchase.”


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