The mortgage on a house is just one of the costs of owning a home. On top of that, you have property taxes, maintenance costs, costs to run the household, and costs to finance the loan or sell the property. No matter what stage of homeownership you are in, there will be additional costs, and it’s a good idea with today’s unsteady job market to get a handle on those costs and rein them in wherever possible.
The larger your loan, the more interest over the years you will end up paying. Lenders won’t back down anymore on the 20 percent down payment, even with record low interest rates on the mortgage loans. Seek out ways to reduce the cost of financing by comparing multiple offers, taking advantage of first-time homebuyer programs, or simply buying less house, not more. While you get some tax perks for buying more house and having a bigger loan, it’s no longer advised since the economy got stuck in first gear. Compare fees and closing costs to determine which loan is the cheapest and not just mortgage and interest rate. If you think you won’t live there more than five years, consider renting instead.
If you already own your own home, the property taxes may have risen during the boom years and never fallen – even though the actual value of your house has dipped. To set the property tax back to a more accurate value, you will have to contest it by doing a little homework. Go on Zillow and find houses that are similar in size and style in your neighborhood and see what they are worth. Go to the tax assessor’s office and pull your tax card and that of the homes you found in your neighborhood that were similar. Check over your house details to make sure they are accurate and not inflated, especially the square footage. Set up an appeal if you want to contest the tax value and keep your documentation for when your case comes up.
There will be a need to paint, landscape, add flooring, replace appliances and the like as time wears on. By becoming a bit handier around the house you can save money by opting for a do-it-yourself approach. Some types of jobs that could cause fires (like electrical wiring} or injury (like roofing) are better left to professionals. You don’t want a little frugality to end up costing you big-time in the end.
Replacing old appliances with energy-saving new appliances is one of the easiest ways to reduce household operating costs. Add water conservation technology to your faucets, toilets, and showerheads. Increase insulation to reduce heating costs and look into alternative energy to help reduce costs on an electric water heater and add a solar pre-heater.
Sell Your Home
When it comes time to selling your home, the full service real estate agent will want a 6 to 7 percent commission on the total sales price of the home, even if your house has not appreciated as much over time as you’d like. You can negotiate that at the time of the contract. You can also opt to try to sell the house yourself, but in a tough market that is a very hard way to go. Another way is to go for a discount broker who offers some of the services, like MLS listing, but makes you do the open houses and the like. It’s up to you to choose the right way to sell your home that puts money in your pocket instead of taking it out.