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How first-time homeowners can avoid unexpected maintenance and repair costs

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  • Budgeting for home maintenance is crucial to avoid unexpected expenses.
  • Regular home inspections and proactive maintenance can prevent costly repairs.
  • Setting aside 1-4% of your home's value annually can help cover maintenance costs.

Becoming a homeowner is an exciting milestone, but it comes with its own set of challenges, particularly when it comes to maintenance and repair costs. For many first-time homeowners, these expenses can be an unwelcome surprise. However, with proper planning and budgeting, you can avoid the shock of unexpected bills and keep your home in top shape.

According to a recent report by Angi, approximately 19% of homeowners were surprised by the cost of home improvement projects within their first six months of homeownership. This statistic highlights the importance of being prepared for these expenses. On average, the hidden costs of homeownership in the United States amount to around $18,000 annually, which includes home maintenance costs estimated at about 2% of a home's value each year.

Real-Life Example

Take the case of Alex Marrero and his spouse, new homeowners in Coral Springs, Florida. Since purchasing their home in mid-April, they have spent nearly $17,000 on maintenance, repairs, and installations, including hurricane impact-resistant windows and a garage door. Their experience underscores the reality that home maintenance costs can quickly add up and exceed initial expectations.

Expert Advice

Angie Hicks, co-founder of Angi, notes that many first-time homeowners are unprepared for these costs because they have not previously dealt with home improvement contractors. Understanding the process and being proactive can help mitigate these surprises.

Budgeting for Home Maintenance

To avoid unexpected expenses, it's crucial to budget for home maintenance. Here are some strategies to help you plan effectively:

Schedule a Home Inspection

A thorough home inspection can identify potential issues before you purchase a property. Dan Bawden, a residential construction expert, emphasizes the importance of hiring a home inspector, stating, "That's probably the most important thing you can do". This step can help you avoid costly repairs down the line.

Identify Deal Breakers

During the inspection, be on the lookout for major issues such as foundation problems, termite damage, and water damage. Being present for the inspection allows you to ask questions and understand the condition of the home better.

Maintain a Critical Eye

Once you move in, continue to inspect your home regularly. Routine maintenance tasks, such as tuning up your air conditioner or furnace, can prevent small issues from becoming major problems.

Setting a Budget

Experts recommend saving 1% of your home's value each year for maintenance. For a $300,000 home, this would mean setting aside $3,000 annually. However, if your budget allows, saving up to 4% can provide a more substantial cushion for unexpected repairs.

Consider Your Home's Age and Location

The age, size, and location of your home can significantly impact maintenance costs. Older homes may require more frequent repairs, while homes in harsh climates might need additional upkeep. For example, homes in areas with harsh winters may need more frequent repairs due to wear and tear.

Create a Maintenance Fund

Setting up a separate savings account for home maintenance can help ensure that you have funds available when needed. This approach prevents the money from being accidentally spent on other expenses.

By understanding the potential costs and planning ahead, first-time homeowners can avoid the financial shock of unexpected maintenance and repair expenses. Regular inspections, budgeting, and proactive maintenance are key strategies to keep your home in good condition and your finances in check.

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