For Homeowners, Saving a Down Payment Is Only the Start

The down payment is just one cost to save for — you also need to budget for repairs, maintenance and furniture.
Sara RathnerSep 25, 2020

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If you’re saving for your first home, there’s no shortage of advice out there — some of it questionable, even if you do have an avocado toast habit. Still, it’s true that your down payment may be the biggest check you ever write.

But once you move in, it’s also true that the cash tends to just keep flying out of your bank account like that money-with-wings emoji. If you drain your savings on closing day, you’ll have to delay furnishings or repairs, to say nothing of less-pressing cosmetic changes.

A sizable cash cushion makes the more manageable. But even if you lack that cushion, it helps to at least know what to expect and what else you may need to finance or start saving for again. Here’s what I learned.

I’ve lost count of the handymen, electricians and plumbers who have paraded through the home my husband and I bought in October 2019. As I type this, our dryer is being repaired for the second time since we moved in. All told, we’ve spent around $1,300 on small fixes.

yourself is cost-effective, but only if you know what you’re doing. If a repair involves dangerous work, or you lack the skills and equipment to do it safely and correctly, hire a licensed and insured professional.

As a renter, you may have put up with lumpy sofas or rickety chairs, thinking eventually you’d have “real” furniture in your own home like the kind you see at a carefully staged open house. But you’re purchasing a structure; the furnishings typically don’t come with it.

We spent around $8,000 on furniture this year.

Another sneaky expense? Smaller accessories like towel racks, shower curtains, shelves, and storage bins that make a space functional.

A new neighbor told me she spent $500 on an electrician to replace older, ungrounded electrical outlets throughout her house. We lucked out with modern outlets, but not enough of them. We hired an electrician at $75 an hour to install more than a dozen additional outlets. Neither our house nor our neighbor’s was sold as a fixer-upper.

“The first year of homeownership is usually spent finding out all of the flaws you didn’t notice during open house and the final walkthrough,” Coker says.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

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