Make sure to pad your budget accordingly.
- Homeowners take on added expenses that renters don’t, like property taxes, maintenance, and repairs.
- If you’re purchasing a home, expect to spend 30% more than what your mortgage payment entails.
Buying a home is a huge undertaking. That’s probably not news. What may surprise you, though, is that the cost of owning a home might far surpass the cost of renting one. And so if you’re going to be taking that leap, it’s important to know what to budget for.
Prepare to spend more
It’s a big point of frustration for many renters that for the price they pay their landlords every month, they could instead pay a mortgage lender and get to build equity in a home of their own. But let’s say you’re going from renting to owning a home, and you’re used to paying $1,000 a month in rent. Even if your monthly mortgage payment is the same $1,000, you should expect owning a home to cost you a lot more money.
The reason? When you own a home, you have to pay property taxes for the privilege of owning it. You also have to cover the cost of homeowners insurance, which can be far more substantial than the cost of renters insurance.
Then there’s maintenance and repairs, both of which have the potential to be huge budget-busters. First of all, repairs can be difficult to predict. And while there are formulas you can use to try to estimate your annual maintenance costs, much will depend on the state and size of your home and the number of tasks you’re able to do yourself versus those you need to outsource.
As such, financial guru Suze Orman says that if you’re going to buy a home, it’s best to inflate your mortgage payment by 30% to land on your monthly housing costs. This means that if you’re buying a home that comes with a $1,000 mortgage payment each month, you should assure you’ll spend at least $1,300 a month on housing.
Don’t get in over your head
Some people assume that if they can afford to rent a home with a certain monthly payment attached to it, they can afford to buy a home that comes with that same mortgage payment. But your mortgage payment alone doesn’t tell the whole story.
More: Check out our picks for the best mortgage lenders
The upside of renting is getting to write a single check each month and not having to worry about added costs. You’re not guaranteed that when you own a home. Even if you pad your mortgage payment by 30%, you may find that that’s still not enough when your property tax bill arrives or you’re hit with a repair issue that’s more complicated than usual to address.
So on top of estimating that extra 30%, you should also make sure you have a nice, robust emergency fund before taking the leap into homeownership. That way, you’ll have extra cash in savings to fall back on in case any given housing expense catches you off guard.
In fact, as a general rule, it’s good to have enough money in an emergency fund to cover three full months of living costs. But if that’s the rule of thumb you followed as a renter, it wouldn’t hurt to boost your savings now that you’re looking at being responsible for a home you own.
Alice J. Roden started working for Trending Insurance News at the end of 2021. Alice grew up in Salt Lake City, UT. A writer with a vast insurance industry background Alice has help with several of the biggest insurance companies. Before joining Trending Insurance News, Alice briefly worked as a freelance journalist for several radio stations. She covers home, renters and other property insurance stories.