The Hidden Costs of Home Ownership: $6,000 a Year

The Hidden Costs of Home Ownership: $6,000 a Year

iStockphoto
By Beth Braverman

Most new homeowners are prepared to pay their mortgages, but they may not be ready for other unavoidable costs that can amount to thousands of dollars every year.

The average homeowner shelled out $6,042 last year in homeowners insurance, property taxes, and utilities, according to a new report from Zillow. The average costs varied by location, with Boston homeowners spending the most ($9,413) and homeowners in Phoenix spending the least ($4,513).

“Home buyers too often fixate on the sticker price or monthly mortgage payment on a house, and don’t budget for the other expenses associated with ownership -- which can add up quickly,” Zillow spokeswoman Amy Bohutinsky said in a statement.

Related: How to Decide if You Should Rent or Buy a Home

The maintenance costs included in the report included things like lawn care and carpet cleaning.

The country’s homeownership rate fell to 63.7 percent in the first quarter, the lowest level since 1989. The rate peaked at 69.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2004, right before the housing bubble burst.

As rents in many cities continue to skyrocket, however, homeownership may be becoming more appealing. However, in addition to hidden homeownership costs, new buyers should also consider the opportunity costs of potential earnings if buyers had invested their down payment. The New York Times has a handy calculator that incorporates these and other factors to help weigh whether it makes more sense to rent or buy.

Nearly two-thirds of consumers say that home ownership is a “dream come true” and an accomplishment to be proud of, according to a survey released last week by Wells Fargo.

Number of the Day: 5.5 Percent

The debate over national health care aside, more Americans today say they get "excellent health care" than did in the early 2000s, according to <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/150806/rate-own-healthcare-quality-coverage-excellent.aspx" target="_blank"
Getty Images
By Yuval Rosenberg

Health care spending in the U.S. will grow at an average annual rate of 5.5 percent from 2017 through 2026, according to new estimates published in Health Affairs by the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The projections mean that health care spending would rise as a share of the economy from 17.9 percent in 2016 to 19.7 percent in 2026.

Part of the Shutdown-Ending Deal: $31 Billion More in Tax Cuts

The U.S. Capitol building is lit at dusk ahead of planned votes on tax reform in Washington, U.S., December 18, 2017.   REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/Files
Joshua Roberts
By The Fiscal Times Staff

Margot Sanger-Katz and Jim Tankersley in The New York Times: “The deal struck by Democrats and Republicans on Monday to end a brief government shutdown contains $31 billion in tax cuts, including a temporary delay in implementing three health care-related taxes.”

“Those delays, which enjoy varying degrees of bipartisan support, are not offset by any spending cuts or tax increases, and thus will add to a federal budget deficit that is already projected to increase rapidly as last year’s mammoth new tax law takes effect.”

IRS Paid $20 Million to Collect $6.7 Million in Tax Debts

The IRS provides second chances to get your tax return right with Form 1040X.
iStockphoto
By The Fiscal Times Staff

Congress passed a law in 2015 requiring the IRS to use private debt collection agencies to pursue “inactive tax receivables,” but the financial results are not encouraging so far, according to a new taxpayer advocate report out Wednesday.

In fiscal year 2017, the IRS received $6.7 million from taxpayers whose debts were assigned to private collection agencies, but the agencies were paid $20 million – “three times the amount collected,” the report helpfully points out.

Like what you're reading? Sign up for our free newsletter.

Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan See Small GDP Boost from Tax Bill

Belize sure is bumpy.
Wikipedia
By Yuval Rosenberg

Goldman Sachs economists see the tax bill adding 0.3 percentage points to GDP growth in 2018 and 2019 while JP Morgan forecasts a similar gain of 0.3 percentage points next year and 0.2 percentage points the year after.

Goldman’s analysts add that federal spending, which is likely to grow more quickly next year than it has recently, will bring the total fiscal boost to around 0.6 percentage points for 2018 and 0.4 percentage points in 2019.

Both banks see deficits likely rising above $1 trillion, or about 5 percent of GDP, in 2019.