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.

Chart of the Day: GDP Growth Before and After the Tax Bill

Paul Ryan with tax return postcard
By The Fiscal Times Staff

President Trump and the rest of the GOP are celebrating the recent burst in economic growth in the wake of the tax cuts, with the president claiming that it’s unprecedented and defies what the experts were predicting just a year ago. But Rex Nutting of MarketWatch points out that elevated growth rates over a few quarters have been seen plenty of times in recent years, and the extra growth generated by the Republican tax cuts was predicted by most economists, including those at the Congressional Budget Office, whose revised projections are shown below.

Are States Ready for the Next Downturn?

A <a href="http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/indexes/rasmussen_consumer_index/rasmussen_consumer_index" target="_blank">recent poll</a> taken by Rasmussen found that 68 percent of Americans believe that we are actually in a recession
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The Great Recession hit state budgets hard, but nearly half are now prepared to weather the next modest downturn. Moody’s Analytics says that 23 states have enough reserves to meet budget shortfalls in a moderate economic contraction, up from just 16 last year, Bloomberg reports. Another 10 states are close. The map below shows which states are within 1 percent of their funding needs for their rainy day funds (in green) and which states are falling short.

Chart of the Day: Evolving Price of the F-35

Reuters
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act signed in August included 77 F-35 Lightning II jets for the Defense Department, but Congress decided to bump up that number in the defense spending bill finalized this week, for a total of 93 in the next fiscal year – 16 more than requested by the Pentagon. Here’s a look from Forbes at the evolving per unit cost of the stealth jet, which is expected to eventually fall to roughly $80 million when full-rate production begins in the next few years.

Wages Are Finally Going Up, Sort of

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By Yuval Rosenberg

Average hourly earnings last month rose by 2.9 percent from a year earlier, the Labor Department said Friday — the fastest wage growth since the recession ended in 2009. The economy added 201,000 jobs in August, marking the 95th straight month of gains, while the unemployment rate held steady at 3.9 percent.

Analysts noted, though, that the welcome wage gains merely kept pace with a leading measure of inflation, meaning that pay increases are largely or entirely being canceled out by higher prices. “The last time unemployment was this low, during the dot-com boom, wage growth was significantly faster — well above 3.5 percent,” The Washington Post’s Heather Long wrote. The White House Council of Economic Advisers this week issued a report arguing that wage gains over the past year have been better than they appear in official statistics.