New Homeowners Can Spend Nearly $30K on Unexpected but Common Projects

For most homeowners, buying a home involves more than a mortgage. Research from Thumbtack, San Francisco, and Zillow, Seattle, said a typical for-sale home could need as much as $30,000 in work—which, for some buyers, particularly millennials—might result in unexpected expense.

According to the survey of 1,000 homebuyers, the average millennial expects to pay between $10,000 and $15,000 to make a home move-in ready, when in reality, the data shows new homeowners should actually expect to spend about $26,900 on these projects. Evaluating, repairing or replacing HVAC systems is the most expensive move-in project, costing $3,615 on average nationwide.

“First-time homebuyers typically underestimate the costs of the unsexy projects they may have to tackle before they even move in,” said Amanda Pendleton, Zillow home trends analyst. “That sticker shock may be increasingly common in a competitive market where buyers are dropping inspection contingencies as a strategy to win a bidding war.”

Homebuyers said they’re most excited about improvement projects that allow them to express their personal style and make a home feel like their own. Millennial homebuyers are most excited to tackle interior painting ($385/room), followed closely by wallpaper installation ($530/room) and kitchen updates such as remodels and renovations ($7,445).

Homebuyers are least excited about making roofing repairs, which cost an average of $800 to evaluate and complete. This is followed by general plumbing repairs ($335), painting the entire home exterior ($2,415) and repairing damaged floors ($315-$1,245, depending on the type of floor). These projects tend to be more time-consuming or require a deeper level of expertise to complete, which can make homeowners feel out of their comfort zone.