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How Much Extra Did You Need To Buy Your Home?
Old 07-20-2017, 02:31 PM   #1
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How Much Extra Did You Need To Buy Your Home?

In trying to balance where to put savings, I'm having a really hard time figuring out what to budget for immediate needs during and immediately after purchasing a home.

Outside of the listed price on the house, what all did you wind up needing extra cash/credit for?

I've been scouring articles and forums, and have something of a list, but I don't know how extensive (or realistic) it really is.

I'm figuring:

During Buying:
- Home inspection
- Sewer/septic/plumber inspection
- HVAC inspection
- Electrical inspection
- Chimney inspection
- Termite inspection

Post Buying:
-Paint, tarps, tape, brushes, rollers, pans
-New door locks
-Kitchen appliances
-Duct cleaning
-Filters replaced
-Carpets replaced
-Any hardwood sanded and refinished
-Possibly water heater replaced
-Possibly new A/C (or at least A/C serviced)
-Possibly new water cutoff valves and lines at toilets/sinks/washer/etc.
-Curtains and rods
-Possibly blinds
-LED bulbs
-Lawn stuff

Did any of this apply for you when you bought your home?

Were there unexpected costs upfront when trying to buy the house?

Were there unexpected costs immediately after buying?

Did you immediately start saving for maintenance and future maintenance issues like new HVAC/roof/siding/whatever?

How much cash did you need along the way versus being able to put things on credit (ideally a new card at 0% for 1-2 years)?

Did you immediately try to furnish everything, or start out with a couch and bed and work up from there?

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Old 07-20-2017, 02:53 PM   #2
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I wasn't as ambitious as you in trying to anticipate all expenses. I knew when I bought my house two years ago that big expenses would be: window work, remodel the kitchen, and replace the patio. None of these were life and death matters, so I figured I'd absorb the costs when I was ready. I knew there would be obvious on-going expenses, such as paint, lightbulbs, yard, furnace and AC checkups.

Before purchase I had a good general inspection; once I bought the home I immediately had a furnace and fireplace inspection (both used a lot during winter).

I started on the window work, several windows at a time (new storms/screens/tilt outs using original sashes--I have a "guy" who does all this, not cheap). I'll be working this plan for some years. Then I also managed to get the kitchen remodeled and a new patio in. I'm now paying off the HELOC for those items. Meanwhile, I've painted, refinished woodwork, decorated, etc. as time and inclination dictate.

If I were you I'd prioritize a list with only a couple big categories 1) immediate and/or potentially dangerous stuff that needs to be done (ie. faulty wiring, plumbing, roof etc); 2) cosmetic and/or stuff you'd like to do but isn't a hazard. Once you are in the house you'll find that this second category will change a lot depending on what bugs you the most and what you've learned to live with. Good advice is to live in the house at least a year before making large cosmetic changes. I certainly haven't always taken that advice myself, but I do see the wisdom of it as the house sorta "tells" you what is best for it once you settle into it.

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Old 07-20-2017, 02:56 PM   #3
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We've been through it enough times that there were no unexpected items.

But on your list, I'd check out the local capabilities. All the inspections you listed are typically done by the same person around here. I'm sure some jurisdictions handle it differently, but that may be a pleasant surprise for you. And it shouldn't be much. A few hundred at most.
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Old 07-20-2017, 03:25 PM   #4
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The required inspections were done in escrow at the seller's expense.

We did nothing after moving in except buy more furniture over time.
Retired at 59 in 2014. Should have done it sooner but I worried too much.
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Old 07-20-2017, 03:37 PM   #5
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We lived in an apartment for 2 years before buying our house. I bought 2 large garbage cans when we moved in and put them in our apartment storage bin. Twice a month we bought rakes, shovels, pruners, large garbage bags, tarps and put them in the garbage cans. We keep a list of what we bought so no duplicates. After house hunting for a while, we decided to buy a house that needed renovation. We had lots of mechanics tools between the two of us but needed construction tools like hammers, pry bars, power tools (drills, saws, etc.) My dad fixed up a couple of lawn mowers. The house had appliances that were old but worked fine so we didn't replace right away. Everything in the house needed replacing but couldn't afford too many projects. We had the roof and heater replaced the first year. After that, we'd pick a project, invite our family/friends to a demolition party where everything would get ripped out then have a party/picnic. These friends would come back the next weekend to rewire, insulate (there was no insulation), sheetrock, spackle, paint. My husband and two of his friends would coordinate everything and things went really smooth. My husband made some of our furniture and friends and family gave us things. We have some of the best friends and family! Good luck with your new home and make sure you have basic tools.
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Old 07-20-2017, 03:44 PM   #6
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WE always take our furniture from house to house. Our last move we were downsizing so sold some of the furniture. WE either take our appliances or leave them and then the seller of the house we are buying leaves them too. Then we do any painting or remodeling before we move in.
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Old 07-20-2017, 04:02 PM   #7
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You should get thru the Closing Process first. The Home Inspector documents all his findings in a Report to you (you paid for it). You can use it as a check list as you go along. Seller may fix some things, but're better off getting a credit and making sure it's fixed to your liking after Closing. Do you need a Termite Inspection in your area ??

First, change the Locks and get the Appliance situation squared away, then you can proceed at your own pace. There's no need to rush thru this you're going to be in the new place for a long while. You change the shut off valves on the potty at any time.

Paint the rooms in the colors of your choice first, then replace any carpeting or wood flooring as don't want to spill paint on new flooring.

I would personally prioritize any energy saving upgrades. Keep clean filters in the HVAC but if it's working fine.....don't mess with it.

And by all means.....get some curtains on the bedroom windows !!
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Old 07-20-2017, 04:13 PM   #8
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The house we're in now we bought brand new so everything being under warranty for at least a year I didn't give maintenance/replacement issues any thought at all for a couple of years.

Although I had owned homes before this one, this was the first brand new one. For some reason it never occurred to either of us that it would have no window coverings at all. The first night the "curtain" in the bathroom was a bath towel. I forget what all we bought, but it seemed for the first six months or so we were spending about $1k/month more than our income on stuff for the house. After that things settled down to more reasonable rates.
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Old 07-20-2017, 04:22 PM   #9
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Here's what I paid. This is just for the purchase of the new home; there were other expenses involved in selling the old home.

Buying new house: Purchase price and earnest money that was paid with my offer but was applied to the purchase price. $10 for certified check required for earnest money and another $10 for the humungous certified check required for closing. (See below discussion of "nickel and diming to death" ). Closing costs $2,007, including adjusted taxes, title search, title insurance, recording services fee, archive fee. Unexpectedly got $2,500 from the sellers at closing to compensate me for repair work that I had requested but didn't actually care much about, and they didn't do. So, that more than paid for my closing costs.

Three house inspections (total $748): general inspector, termite inspector, and plumbing inspector. They saved me more than 33x what they cost by legally requiring the shifting of some major plumbing repair costs to the seller; long story for another post. Anyway I am a great believer in having the house inspected more than thoroughly.

The actual move (total $1028): boxes and twine, movers, tip, Gatorade. New car registration and driver's license with the new address on them.

Setting up new house (total $4691): water deposit, elevation certificate survey to get lower flood insurance rates, all new (gorgeous!) appliances, garage door opener, all new locks and keypad entry deadbolts on my external doors, and having them installed and keyed alike. OK. Some of this was discretionary like the garage door opener.

Completely discretionary "fix up the place" spending. The interior was perfect for me, but I spent a boatload on having the yard re-landscaped, removal of gargantuan dead trees, re-grading, and so on.

Originally Posted by RetiredGypsy View Post
Did any of this apply for you when you bought your home?

The only appliances I paid for were refrigerator, washer, and dryer. The paint and flooring were immaculate and so I didn't have to paint or have flooring re-done. My offer for the house required that window treatments must remain. The absolutely ancient HVAC lasted for over a year before it gave up the ghost and had to be replaced. But my general home inspector warned me about it so it wasn't a surprise. I just had hoped it would last a second year, but oh well.

Were there unexpected costs upfront when trying to buy the house?
Everything was unexpected to me. But, most of it was "nickel and diming me to death" and not big expenses. It seemed like almost every single day somebody had his hand out and that was pretty unnerving, and each evening I'd give Frank my daily nickel-and-diming report of who wanted a few bucks from me for this or that. We had a few laughs over it. All in all it didn't even add up to $500.

So, I'd suggest allotting $500 for nickel and diming, and then just focusing on the important things and maintaining emotional equilibrium, instead of freaking out due to the nickel and diming and such small stuff.

Were there unexpected costs immediately after buying?
Not really. I had to do a ton of grocery shopping to fill up the pantry and the new freezer and frig.

Did you immediately start saving for maintenance and future maintenance issues like new HVAC/roof/siding/whatever?
No. As long as my average WR is acceptable to me, that's fine and I will just take those expenses from my usual withdrawal. Other than the one time house purchase/move expenses, my WR consistently stayed around 1.70% to 1.75% for some time. In my view that's just plain nuts, KWIM? So part of the motive of buying a home was to spend more money on something I want. Even including the one time cost of buying a new home and moving, my average WR is still well below 3.5% and so I am doing OK.

How much cash did you need along the way versus being able to put things on credit (ideally a new card at 0% for 1-2 years)?
I did as much as I could in cash or by check, but still, all those new appliances that I bought online maxed out my (one) credit card and my debit card which I didn't even know HAD a max. But surprise! It DOES! What a pain in the rear. Get the new card, even if you plan to pay it off in full each month.

Did you immediately try to furnish everything, or start out with a couch and bed and work up from there?
I brought the furniture from my old house, since they were only 3 miles apart. The house is smaller, so I donated some furniture to the Salvation Army and gave my guest bedroom set to Frank. I still have too much furniture.

However I bought some bar stools for the new house (since my old house didn't have bar type kitchen counter and the new house does). I bought a big expensive laundry cart since the laundry room is pretty far from my closets and bedroom. I also bought one of those folding screens, since my front door is beveled glass and I wanted more privacy. That was all the furniture I needed.
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Old 07-20-2017, 05:05 PM   #10
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The last time we moved, 25 years ago, we did not have any money left after the move to do much. I had budgeted $1,000 for blinds for the house and everything else had to wait and be done in turn. I am a better budgeter now.
Retired in 2013 and we are living the dream!
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Old 07-20-2017, 05:22 PM   #11
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For the home inspection, consider hiring an engineer with HI credentials. My experience is that the inspectors joined at the hip with the real estate agent have relationships that are just too cozy. YMMV
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Old 07-20-2017, 05:34 PM   #12
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We did very little to the house immediately after buying it - change the locks, paint a couple of rooms, put up window coverings. We kept the old flooring throughout the house (cleaned by sellers and serviceable). Appliances were either transferred from the old house or came with the new house. We had upgraded from a smaller house, so the new house was sparsely furnished at the beginning. We took our time to completely furnish it (about 4 years).

We had the house inspected before closing. We did find slightly elevated levels of radon during the inspection and asked the sellers to install a remediation system.

A few months after buying the house, the sewer line became suddenly obstructed (tree roots and dead squirrel). That was unexpected and digging up the sewer line proved to be quite expensive.

But we had quite a few expected repairs in the following years as well. When we bought the house, we knew from the inspection report that the A/C system was on its last leg and the roof had signs of hail damage. We replaced both within 3 years. The retaining wall in the backyard was already leaning when we bought the house but we were able to defer replacement for 10 years. We did not have to save for any of those repairs because we were working at the time and were able to pay for them out of cashflow.

Over the 12 years of ownership, we have spent on average 1.5-2% of the property value on repairs and maintenance each year (we have an older house on a steep hill, so our maintenance costs may be on the high side).

Now that we are retired, we save part of our annual WR towards future repairs (about 2% of the current property value each year). But we recently found out that we will need to stabilize part of the foundations of the house (foundation problems are common around here). The estimate for the work exceeds the amount that we have set aside in savings for home repairs. So I will pay for part of the work with a credit card offering 0% APR until the end of 2018 and we will have to rebuild our savings for the next thing and the next...

And finally we just finished some major upgrading as well (replace all the floorings, entirely repaint the interior of the house, replace all the countertops, sinks, and faucets, , etc)... But that was long planned and entirely discretionary - the old stuff was still serviceable.
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Old 07-20-2017, 05:50 PM   #13
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After home purchase, don't forget to check with your local property tax district to see if you qualify for exemptions. For example, homestead, vet and/or over 65 exemptions that many property tax districts give that will reduce your property taxes.

A young couple with two cute little boys moved in across the street several years ago. Recently, while I was searching the local property tax website to check to see if my over 65 exemption had been updated, I noticed that young couple who qualified had not applied for a homestead exemption, so I advised them to check into it. I hope they do, it will save them several hundred dollars a year.

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Old 07-20-2017, 06:12 PM   #14
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We had a house inspection done, so had a list of stuff needing to be done.

I am cheap so figured maybe $2K in sprucing up expenses, we delayed some things, mostly as we were working so too busy.

The surprise was: a lawn mower, borrowed one for the first cut and bought a cheap $150 one to use the first 8 or so years (except it was $25 clearance at Walmart).

Changed the garage door opener codes myself for free.

Put new locks on the doors myself for $20 each deadbolt.

It has a swimming pool that was a swamp, so drained out 1 foot of water, dumped in bags of chlorine and added back the foot of water, found a chair at the bottom.
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Old 07-21-2017, 01:41 AM   #15
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When we've moved, especially if we downsized or moved into a different style home, we have spent quite a lot on new furniture and art. I am very picky about my home and want furniture and art that is scaled appropriately to the room size and looks in harmony with the style of the home. That was the biggest thing I missed in our remodeling budget. Once our massive remodel was done, very few of the furniture pieces we had before looked good and several art pieces had to be reframed or replaced.
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Old 07-21-2017, 06:21 AM   #16
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We have always used 5-10% of the house purchase price to "get it right". Everything from furniture to paint to trash cans to storage shelves.

Higher house cost = more stuff needed to fill it up.

The number (more towards the 5% end for us) has been pretty accurate both upsizing and downsizing 6 houses in 30 years.
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Old 07-21-2017, 06:35 AM   #17
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We did very little but what we did do was expensive. Enclosed the back porch for $26,000. Replaced windows with leaking seals- have spent about $20K over 2 years, including new plantation shutters in 2 rooms. Two nasty surprises: backflow valve for sprinkler system failed inspection and had to be replaced for $2,000 and the HVAC had to be replaced over the next year for about $14K total. (It was the original 20-year old equipment but we'd hoped it would have lasted longer.)

That was on a $250K house DH and I bought 2 years ago. Roof is 3 years old and has a 50-year warranty so I hope that ongoing things will be more routine maintenance and/or voluntary upgrades. I'd like quartz counters in the master bath but I'd rather spend the money on plane tickets!
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Old 07-21-2017, 07:44 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
.....But on your list, I'd check out the local capabilities. All the inspections you listed are typically done by the same person around here. I'm sure some jurisdictions handle it differently, but that may be a pleasant surprise for you. And it shouldn't be much. A few hundred at most.
+1 Home inspector overs all of those and if questions arisen then you woudl bring in specialists. The home inspection on the condo that we bought last year was $250 and a 2,500 sf single family home would be $365.

For all the other stuff we spent around $500 to have the carpets shampooed (not replaced), replace the entry deadbolt with a keypad deadbolt, have the HVAC serviced, replace most bulbs with LEDs, etc.... an a lot of that we didn't "have" to do.... we spent more on furniture, new TV, mattress, etc.
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Old 07-21-2017, 02:23 PM   #19
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The main thing for us was new furniture, lamps, paintings etc. We got the lawn equipment by including it in the offer. An old lawn mower defers the need for a newer one until you can afford it.
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Old 07-21-2017, 07:24 PM   #20
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Your extra costs are going to depend on the house you buy and what you want it to become. We just bought a winter home in AZ, the realtor was able to advise all the costs of inspections. The house isn't old enough to need floor coverings replaced and we like what's in there. I'm happy with kitchen, baths and countertops. We stayed two weeks after closing to paint the interior and trim bushes. We took lawn chairs, airbed, card table and chairs and camped in the house for the two weeks. Blinds were already in place. We're going back next week to leave a vehicle there, buy furniture then fly home. It will mostly be ready for us enjoy our first winter.

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