7 surprises of home ownership

Property taxes keep going up and up

Sure, it's easy to factor in the cost of the first year's property taxes into your budget (and if you're still in hunt mode, Zillow.com lists a home's property taxes for the last four years as part of its listings).

But that's the first year you'll own the home only. Property taxes rarely go down, but you can expect them to increase.

The U.S. Census Bureau says the median cost of real estate taxes is $2,075. But property taxes are different for every community. The Tax Foundation has a nifty tool that shows median property taxes for your county. Zillow also lists the tax on individual properties and the percentage change from year to year, too.

Down the line, if you make major improvements to your house, expect to see your tax bill increase as the assessed value of your home increases.