Don’t let these hidden homeowner costs bust your budget
by First Financial Bank

If you are ready to sign on the dotted line to purchase your first home, you’ve already done your homework on the expected expenses like principal, interest, taxes and insurance. But there’s more to owning a home than your monthly mortgage payment. What happens after you are handed the keys to your new home? It’s the “little things” that can bust the budget of a homeowner. Prepare your bank account for these hidden costs for homeowners.

  • Safety first

Who knows who else has had a key to your new front door? The only way to ensure the security of your family and your property is to change the locks right after closing. From deadbolts to electronic entry, today’s wide variety of lock systems are reliable and convenient. Many smart systems allow keyless entry so you won’t have to fumble for your keys, but be sure no one else has the code to enter.

A security system is a deterrent for criminals. Whether you prefer professional installation or are more DIY, there’s a home security system available with features to match your needs and budget.

Protect your family from harm with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in each bedroom. Store several portable fire extinguishers in accessible locations around your home: keep handheld extinguishers under the kitchen sink, in the garage and near the fireplace. For added peace of mind, place a fire escape ladder in each sleeping room on upper levels.

  • Landscaping labors

A yard requires an investment of both time and money. Caring for the grass, trees and flowers on your property will be a weekly responsibility during growing seasons. You’ll need the basics to get started: lawn mower, trimmers, gas can, garden hose, nozzle, broom, spade and rake. You may graduate to a wheelbarrow and riding mower, depending on the size of your space. Don’t forget snow shovels to clear walkways and driveways if you live in an all-season climate.

  • Increasing utility bills

Sure, you are used to paying some monthly bills, but now that you are in a new home, the costs may creep up. A larger living space often equals higher heating and cooling bills. Add in the expenses that may have been covered by a landlord in your rental, like water, trash and recycling collection, and your monthly bills may skyrocket.

Consider energy-saving efforts like efficient lightbulbs and smart thermostats to lower your bills. Utility companies often offer budget billing with predictable monthly payments to help plan your annual budget.

  • Repair rates

When the sink backs up or the water heater acts up in your new home, there’s no landlord to call—you are the landlord now. Major home repairs for appliances, plumbing, electrical or HVAC systems can pop up at anytime due to age or regular wear and tear. As the homeowner, these are your responsibilities and unfortunately, most of these kinds of repairs don’t come for cheap. Professionals may charge a flat rate plus an initial service fee or bill by the hour. After-hours emergency calls may cost even more. Earmark emergency home repairs when forecasting your budget and consider a quarterly maintenance check-up plan to be proactive.

  • Décor upgrades

In the early days of home ownership, it’s natural to want to make it your own. You may have visions of rooms straight out of the pages of home magazines with fresh paint, comfy couches and matching accessories. Individual upgrades won’t break the bank, but the costs for all the trimmings quickly add up. Pace your purchases as you grow into your new space and don’t go into debt for décor. Add new rugs, window treatments, paint and art as you are able to afford them.

  • Unwelcome guests

You don’t want to share your new home with creepy crawlies or rodents. Sometimes you can fight these unwelcomed guests on your own and other times you may need to call in the experts. Pest control is a necessary evil and expense of home ownership.

  • Community costs

Watch out for hidden homeowners’ association (HOA) or condominium fees that could be due monthly, quarterly or annually. Not every home incurs these fees, but some do, depending on the location and amenities of your neighborhood. Fees typically cover the costs of common areas like swimming pools and party rooms, walking paths, signage, security gates, fencing and general maintenance in your community. The details should be made available before you buy a new home and can be figured into your mortgage. If not, ask for them.

With careful planning, these hidden homeowner costs won’t be a surprise to you and your bank account.

First Financial Bank knows you are working hard to make your house a home. Community Builder loans are designed for first-time home owners, featuring repair escrows up to $10,000 available for minor repairs on approved properties. Learn what First Financial can do for you, visit to connect with a mortgage officer near you.

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