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.
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.
At an event in Kentucky to discuss tax reform, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin insisted Monday that Congress will raise the debt ceiling by late next month, in time for the U.S. to avoid a default that could roil the global economy and markets.
The key quotes, per Roll Call:
McConnell: "There is zero chance — no chance — we won't raise the debt ceiling. No chance. America's not going to default. And we'll get the job done in conjunction with the secretary of the Treasury."
Mnuchin: “We’re going to get the debt ceiling passed. I think that everybody understands this is not a Republican issue, this is not a Democrat issue. We need to be able to pay our debts. This is about having a clean debt ceiling so that we can maintain the best credit, the reserve currency, and be focused on what we should be focusing on — so many other really important issues for the economy.”
Mnuchin reiterated his “strong preference” for a “clean” increase to the debt limit — one without other policy proposals or spending cuts attached to it — but some House conservatives continue to press for such cuts.
Bonus McConnell quote on what tax breaks might be eliminated in tax reform: “I think there are only two things that the American people think are actually in the Constitution: The charitable deduction and the home mortgage interest deduction. So, if you’re worried about those two, you can breathe easy. For all the rest of you, there’s no point in doing tax reform unless we look at all of these preferences, and carried interest would be among them.”
In an interview with USA Today, Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles said the agency is bumping up against federally mandated salary and overtime caps in executing its mission to protect the president and his family.
USA Today’s Kevin Johnson notes that 42 people in the Trump administration have Secret Service protection, including 18 of the president’s family members. Under President Obama, 31 people had such protection.
“The compensation crunch is so serious that the director has begun discussions with key lawmakers to raise the combined salary and overtime cap for agents, from $160,000 per year to $187,000 for at least the duration of Trump's first term,” Johnson reported.
In a statement, Alles said the agency has the funding it needs for the rest of the fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30, but estimated that 1,100 employees run into statutory pay caps as a result of overtime work during this calendar year.
“This issue is not one that can be attributed to the current Administration’s protection requirements alone, but rather has been an ongoing issue for nearly a decade due to an overall increase in operational tempo," Alles said in the statement.
Despite all the thorny questions swirling around President Trump's nascent tax reform plan, 29 of 38 economists surveyed by Bloomberg in a monthly poll said they expect Congress to cut taxes by November of next year.
The hitch: The economists don’t expect the cuts will help the economy much. The median projection of a larger group of 71 economists is for 2018 growth of 2.3 percent, up only slightly from 2.1 percent this year — and by 2019, the economists see growth slipping back to 2 percent.