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What Are the Hidden Costs of Owning a Home?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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Some hidden costs of owning a home are homeowner association fees, the cost of garbage collection, and surprise repairs. Homeowner association fees can change and sometimes include fines for breaking rules accidentally. Garbage collection is often a requirement, but it is difficult to estimate how much garbage a household will produce. In addition, repairs are usually the biggest hidden costs of owning a home, especially an older home with problems underneath the floor or behind the walls.

Homeowner association fees are a known responsibility when owning a home in a neighborhood operated by an association. Still, most homeowners are caught by surprise when their dues go up due to neighborhood repairs. If lamp posts, park benches, or other mundane items offered to homeowners are in need of repair, the total cost might be split among all homeowners in the association. In addition, homeowners should expect at least one fee while living in the neighborhood, especially when new to it. Homeowners must pay for various things depending on the rulebook, but weeds, having a pet just a few pounds or kilograms over the limit, and house guests parking on the wrong side of the road can lead to increasingly expensive fines.

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Many neighborhoods around the world have curbside pickup for garbage collection. This service is not free, and the cost of it can double if a homeowner has more garbage than can fit in one garbage can. In addition, depending on local law, the homeowners might spend more time sorting garbage from recycling. In some places, certain materials, such as aluminum, cannot be thrown away because they are too valuable to recycling centers. Throwing such materials into the wrong bin can lead to fines if a worker notices.

If buying an older home, the cost of owning a home can go up significantly due to necessary repairs. It may be possible to ask the buyer to fix certain problems, but sometimes problems are spotted or occur after the purchase. Leaks, electrical problems, and heating and cooling system (HVAC) problems must usually be fixed as soon as possible. A leaky toilet or bathtub can seem relatively harmless for a few weeks, but the floor beneath the fixture or the wall behind it can rot, costing the homeowner even more in repairs. Electrical problems are similar, but they generally do not get worse, only seem less major than they actually are; for example, an outlet that does not work can indicate a much larger, much more expensive problem.

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