7 surprises of home ownership

What every renter should know before buying

"The joys of home ownership."

You'll hear these words dozens of times as you go through the process of buying a home. But that sarcastic turn of phrase won't end when you move into your new house because the costs in both time and money don't stop at the closing table.

There's maintenance. Americans, for example, spend about 1½ hours a week tending to their lawns and gardens, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median expenditure for all maintenance is $33 a month, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

And plumbing fixes: $500 median cost. And roof replacement: $4,559. And that bathroom renovation: $3,422.

The list goes on.

Some of these costs — like your utility bill — you can come to anticipate. But there are a lot of unexpected things that come up, too — things you might not have thought of when you were a renter.

Here are seven of the not-so-joyful surprises of owning a home.

By Jen A. Miller
Interest.com Contributing Editor


  • phil

    You pay off the mortgage in 20 yrs, and no more payments. You'll be paying rent your entire adult life i.e. 40 to 50 yrs.If you bought 20 yrs ago your mortgage payments today are a lot less than rents today. Rents today are about triple, what my mortgage was. Paid it off last Aug. I OWN it

    • Nostromo

      What you're describing, I've seen over the course of six decades. Mortgage payments in the '70s were about a third of the average rent today; rents were about one-fifth of today's market. The taxes on our first home were under $1000 per annum. Wages have not kept pace with the rise in the cost of nearly everything which's essential for one's survival today. Best wishes.

  • Rachel

    I am a landlord and a Realtor. Rents have been on the rise and will continue to do so. You will have nothing to show for your payments years down the line if you rent long term. You will never own it and will not be able to decrease your bills when you are ready to retire.
    I agree that if you bought years ago, your payments are much lower. I have been in my house ten years and it would now rent for about $500 more a month than my current mortgage. This should be a huge consideration. Plus I have about 50k equity in the house now and have not had to spend that much on maintenance.

  • Rachel

    One more thing they do not mention is that when I rent my houses out, I rent them out for enough money to pay for the insurance, taxes and property maintenance. Therefore, the renters are still paying it. It is just built into their payment.

    • Mike0oSS

      As any owner should Rachel...you get a Gold Star for Capitalist for the Day!! You naughty GRRRL...:=}

      • owner

        Mike are you really stupid as you sound.If you don''t like paying a mortgage
        ,
        sell your house.

        • Mike0oSS

          Yes Mam...

    • NH INVESTOR

      RACHEL, WHAT STATE IS YOUR REAL ESTATE IN??

  • Mike0oSS

    Yeah, owning my own home is such a drag....I mean, I actually have a place to bring chiks to show off my tastes and style...it sucks getting laid often in my own house...I mean, a hotel is so much cheaper...golly, next thing you know, I'll be wanting a BMW or Porche to give the prospective broad a ride in...wouldn't want that would we!!!

  • Nostromo

    Shelter is an essential need.

    Buying a home today is such a drag for (some) folks because of the lack of good jobs. Jobs which once could sustain a young and up-and-coming family are going to China, Korea, India, Mexico and points across the Pacific Rim. I stated "going" in my previous statement when in fact the bulk of good, blue-collar jobs have, like Elvis, left the building.

    The housing market, particularly the resale market and contrary to what an upbeat realtor would tell you, is still in retrograde. As a senior citizen I am certain, while lacking the empirical data to support my claim, that home ownership will be out of reach for the majority of folks 40 years-old on down to the so-called 'Millenials' for the rest of my lifetime and a decade or so beyond my end. Trade policies here have sold out the bulk of our citizenry. While I went on to college after high school in the '70s there were many opportunities for a young person to be hired by a manufacturing concern which dangled the 'promise' of lifetime employment and even a pension for many workers after 30 or 40 years of service.

    The pendulum does swing both ways. There could be a return to the time when workers banded together to improve pay and working conditions. The labor movement today seems to be where it was in the early part of the 1900s; with a budding awareness of the situation. We've become a post-industrial economy. Working with one's hands is frowned-upon; as if our information-stuffed craniums are too ponderous to be held up straight by the slender stalks our our necks. Not everyone among us is suited to college. There needs to be something for the non-college bound/educated to do which would ensure a better functioning society. Jobs which could sustain a family are needed badly. Stable families are the building blocks of better neighborhoods, towns, cities, states and right on to the top; a stronger country and society. Our love of 'cheap' and imported goods has left us vulnerable. There is an onerously high back-end cost to the cheap trinkets and stuff we import.