Yearly ‘Hidden’ Homeownership Costs Trending Higher

Okay, you’ve got your mortgage. You know how much you pay in principle and interest. But what about those “hidden” homeownership costs?

Zillow Inc., Seattle, said from property taxes to basic maintenance projects such as lawn care, homeowners can spend between $7,000 and $16,000 a year in hidden homeownership costs.

Nationally, U.S. homeowners can expect to spend $9,080 a year on average in hidden costs related to owning and maintaining a home, according to a new analysis from Zillow and Thumbtack, San Francisco. The study cautions since nearly half (47 percent) of home shoppers today are first-time buyers, many of these extra costs may come as a surprise.

The study said nationally, homeowners pay an average $6,059 per year in to cover homeowners insurance, property taxes and utilities–three common, but sometimes overlooked home expenses. San Francisco homeowners pay the most of the metros analyzed ($13,019 a year), primarily due to the market’s high home values and property taxes. Indianapolis homeowners pay the least at $4,699.

The study said most U.S. homeowners (96 percent) have made some kind of improvement to their home. While many complete these projects themselves, those who hire a professional can expect to spend more than $3,021 a year on average for carpet cleaning, yard work, gutter cleaning, HVAC maintenance, house cleaning and pressure washing, the six most common hired home projects requested by homeowners on Thumbtack. Labor costs can vary significantly by region, with Seattle homeowners paying as much as $4,052 a year on average for those six projects, whereas in San Antonio they pay just $1,962 on average.

“Determining how much a home will ultimately cost you each year and what you can afford is one of the most challenging aspects of home buying, especially for first-time buyers,” said Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell.

“While it may be tempting for homeowners to think they can cut costs by doing home maintenance projects themselves, hiring a trained professional to take them on can save them time, anxiety and most likely money in the long run,” said Thumbtack Economist Lucas Puente. “Across the U.S., buyers should be prepared to spend at least a few thousand a year in home maintenance costs.”