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The Hidden Costs of Home Ownership

Posted by Johnine Larsen on September 24, 2018
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Owning a home costs more than the listing price. It even costs more than the listing price + inspection, insurance, taxes, etc. When we help you buy a house, we make sure you know the full story of what your home will cost. We don’t want you to over-stretch your finances any more than we want to put you in a house you don’t love. Our goal—always—is to help you make the best housing decision possible.

So what ARE these hidden costs of home ownership? Mostly, maintenance. Things break, and fixing them is both (1) necessary and (2) expensive. Here’s what to prepare for:



Roof replacements take a chuck out of your wallet, and it happens (or should happen) every 20 years or so. The exact lifespan of your roof depends on the material it’s made from, the size, and how well you keep it clear of moss and other debris. For all of these, keep in mind that it’s your home’s age, not how long you’ve owned it, that decides lifespan. If you buy a 15-year-old house, for example, you’re looking at a roof replacement in the near future.

Average cost: $7,500



A typical furnace lasts about 18 years. Brand and climate affect that life expectancy, as does proper maintenance. Only use the furnace when necessary—and change the filters on time!

Average cost: $3,000


Central Air

A central air unit also lasts about 18 years, depending on brand, size of your house, and climate. A central air unit in Seattle, fortunately, tends to last much longer than one in Atlanta.

Average cost: $4,000


Wood Fence

Your typical wooden fence last twelve years, but different materials can make the life expectancy and cost vary wildly. One way to reduce the cost of a new fence: DIY. With a few tools, some time, and YouTube how-to videos, you can do much of the labor yourself.

Average cost: $25/sq ft



An average washer and/or dryer costs about $500 and lasts about ten years. To prolong that, clean the lint trap regularly!

Average cost: $500 each



Most refrigerators last about 14 years, and there are a few things you can do to extend that. But a fridge is always running, so the best you can do is budget for its eventual replacement.

Average cost: $1,100


Deck Repair

Most decks last about 15 years, but you can save a lot of money on repairs and replacements by doing the labor yourself. Like a wooden fence, the stakes and expertise required to fix or build a deck aren’t nearly as high as, for instance, a roof repair.

Average repair: $1,500

New replacement: huge range


Sprinkler System

The average lifespan of a sprinkler system is 15 years. This gets a little more complicated than a wooden fence, but you can also do repairs yourself to save money—or even install the whole thing yourself if you’ve ambitious.

Average repair: $100–$1,000

Average replacement: $3,000


Hot Water Heater

A hot water heater lasts about 10 years, variable according to brand and size.

Average cost: $1,500


When buying a house, think of your future. Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make, and it’s easy to end up over-stretched, stuck in a mortgage you can’t afford, and miserable. But on the other side (here’s where we come in), buying a house can also be one the best investments of your life, a source of freedom and self-expression, and a huge source of relief. Talk to us. Let’s find a house that fits your finances and sets you up for a successful, satisfying future.