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.

Tweet of the Day: The Black Hole of Big Pharma

A growing number of patients are being denied access to newer oral chemotherapy drugs for cancer pills with annual price tags of more than $75,000.
iStockphoto
By The Fiscal Times Staff

Billionaire John D. Arnold, a former energy trader and hedge fund manager turned philanthropist with a focus on health care, says Big Pharma appears to have a powerful hold on members of Congress.

Arnold pointed out that PhRMA, the main pharmaceutical industry lobbying group, had revenues of $459 million in 2018, and that total lobbying on behalf of the sector probably came to about $1 billion last year. “I guess $1 bil each year is an intractable force in our political system,” he concluded.

Warren’s Taxes Could Add Up to More Than 100%

iStockphoto/ James Group Studios, Inc.
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The Wall Street Journal’s Richard Rubin says Elizabeth Warren’s proposed taxes could claim more than 100% of income for some wealthy investors. Here’s an example Rubin discussed Friday:

“Consider a billionaire with a $1,000 investment who earns a 6% return, or $60, received as a capital gain, dividend or interest. If all of Ms. Warren’s taxes are implemented, he could owe 58.2% of that, or $35 in federal tax. Plus, his entire investment would incur a 6% wealth tax, i.e., at least $60. The result: taxes as high as $95 on income of $60 for a combined tax rate of 158%.”

In Rubin’s back-of-the-envelope analysis, an investor worth $2 billion would need to achieve a return of more than 10% in order to see any net gain after taxes. Rubin notes that actual tax bills would likely vary considerably depending on things like location, rates of return, and as-yet-undefined policy details. But tax rates exceeding 100% would not be unusual, especially for billionaires.

Biden Proposes $1.3 Trillion Infrastructure Plan

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination in Pittsburgh
Aaron Josefczyk
By Yuval Rosenberg

Joe Biden on Thursday put out a $1.3 trillion infrastructure proposal. The 10-year “Plan to Invest in Middle Class Competitiveness” calls for investments to revitalize the nation’s roads, highways and bridges, speed the adoption of electric vehicles, launch a “second great railroad revolution” and make U.S. airports the best in the world.

“The infrastructure plan Joe Biden released Thursday morning is heavy on high-speed rail, transit, biking and other items that Barack Obama championed during his presidency — along with a complete lack of specifics on how he plans to pay for it all,” Politico’s Tanya Snyder wrote. Biden’s campaign site says that every cent of the $1.3 trillion would be paid for by reversing the 2017 corporate tax cuts, closing tax loopholes, cracking down on tax evasion and ending fossil-fuel subsidies.

Read more about Biden’s plan at Politico.

Number of the Day: 18 Million

Win McNamee/Getty Images
By The Fiscal Times Staff

There were 18 million military veterans in the United States in 2018, according to the Census Bureau. That figure includes 485,000 World War II vets, 1.3 million who served in the Korean War, 6.4 million from the Vietnam War era, 3.8 million from the first Gulf War and another 3.8 million since 9/11. We join with the rest of the country today in thanking them for their service.