October 22, 2015
TheStreet.com quoted me in Why the Extra Costs of Owning a Home Are Lower Than Consumer Expectations. It reads, in part,
First-time homebuyers are often apprehensive about the extra costs of owning a house, fearful that routine maintenance and repairs will add up quickly, exceeding their original budget.
But their estimates about replacing air filters, mowing the lawn and conducting minor repairs are often much higher than average costs. Consumers have trouble estimating the actual amount and said it would cost $15,070 for home maintenance repairs each year, according to a recent survey by NeighborWorks America, a Washington, D.C-based organization focused on affordable housing.
The actual amount is more likely to be in the range of 1% to 3% of a home’s value or $2,000 to $6,000 nationwide, said Douglas Robinson, a spokesman for NeighborWorks America. Even some current homeowners’ estimates were above the average amount and predicted repairs to cost $12,360. The perception among current renters was even worse with a prediction of $20,503.
“The important thing to remember about buying a home is that there are costs after the purchase that go beyond the monthly mortgage,” he said. “By setting up a savings plan and budget for these costs – items such as landscaping, air conditioning and heating system maintenance – a homeowner will be better equipped to take on the expenses without having to use a credit card or worse, a high-cost emergency loan.”
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While they might appear to be rare, homeowners annually should prepare themselves to handle at least one unexpected major emergency such as replacing the boiler or roof in the aftermath of a major storm or flooding in the basement where water needs to be pumped out immediately to protect the foundation, said David Reiss, a law professor at Brooklyn Law School. Establishing an emergency fund would help protect a homeowner when these problems arise so consumers are not forced to turn to more expensive options of debt such as credit cards.
“If a homeowner has an emergency fund, he or she will feel like a genius when it comes time to use it,” he said. “The next step, of course, is to start saving up immediately for the next problem because as most homeowners know – there will be a next problem.”
Some homeowners might find that chronic problems such as the leaky roof are worse than the “acute ones such as the boiler giving out in the winter,” Reiss said.
“This is because we will do whatever it takes to turn the heat back on,” he said. “But we learn to live with the occasional leak and end up feeling like we can ignore it. However, water damage is bad for a house and always gets worse.”