Ka-Ching! The Lowdown on Home Buying Costs

person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug

Buying your first home is a blast, but let’s be real – there’s more to it than just that initial chunk of change (aka the down payment). Here’s the scoop on the extra expenses that can sneak up on you:

Before You Get the Keys:

  • Earnest Money: This is like a “down payment on the down payment.” It proves you’re serious about buying and usually gets rolled into your closing costs. Expect to pay anywhere from 1-3% of the purchase price.
  • Home Inspection: Think of it as a check-up for your potential new home. It’s worth it to make sure you’re not buying a money pit! Typical cost is $300-$500, but can vary depending on the size and age of the home.
  • Tests, Tests, Tests: If you’re in the country, you might need to test the water or septic system. And no matter where you are, it’s smart to test for radon and other nasties. Costs vary depending on the tests needed, but budget $100-$500 per test.
  • Appraisal Fee: This tells the bank the house is actually worth what you’re paying for it. Plan on spending around $300-$500 for this.

Uh Oh…Unexpected Costs:

  • Lawyer Up? Hopefully, everything goes smoothly, but sometimes you need a legal eagle to swoop in and save the day. This could happen if there are title issues (like someone else claiming they own the property), the seller isn’t playing fair, or if unexpected problems pop up in the contract.
  • Buyer’s Agent Commission: Typically, buyer’s agents are paid as a percentage of the sale price based on the listing agreement the Seller has with their brokerage. Terms can vary from listing to listing so make sure you understand how the money flow is contractually setup. Sometimes, the buyer may be responsible for a portion or all of this fee.

The Grand Finale: Closing Costs

These are the fees that come with finalizing your mortgage and making it official. Think of them as the “fine print” of home buying – they can add up! They typically include:

  • Condo transfer Fees: Many condo HOAs collect a transfer of ownership fee.
  • Loan Origination Fees: Your lender’s charge for processing your loan.
  • Title Search & Insurance: This protects you (and the lender) from any ownership disputes down the line.
  • Taxes (Property & Transfer): Yes, taxes are involved even before you move in!
  • Prepaid Interest & Escrow: This covers the first few months of your mortgage interest and property taxes.
  • Prorated Items: Certain expenses are split between the buyer and seller based on who owned the property during a given period. These typically include:
    • Property Taxes: You’ll pay for the portion of the year you own the home.
    • Homeowner’s Insurance: If the seller has prepaid their policy, you’ll reimburse them for the time you’ll be covered.
    • HOA Fees (if applicable): Similar to property taxes, these are split based on ownership.

After You Move In (Time to Nest!):

  • Cleaning Supplies: Because nobody wants to move into a dirty house.
  • Tools: For all those DIY projects you’re going to do…eventually.
  • Furniture & Decor: This is where it gets fun! But don’t blow your whole budget on that fancy couch.
  • Renovations (Maybe): If you’re lucky, you can skip this. If not, set aside some cash for those fixer-upper dreams.
  • Lawn & Garden Goodies: Mower, rake, shovel…the works. Unless you want your yard to look like a jungle.
  • Rainy Day Fund: This is super important! Start stashing cash each month for those big expenses that inevitably come up down the road – think roof repairs, a new paint job, or even replacing those drafty windows. Don’t forget about your heating and cooling system too!

The Bottom Line:

Buying a house is exciting, but it’s a big financial commitment. Be smart, do your research, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. With a little planning, you’ll be sipping lemonade on your new porch in no time!


About the Author

Related Buyer Topics

man and woman lying on bed

Buyer Workshop – October

OCTOBER 2024 – Thinking about the next chapter of your life story? Join us for a workshop to help you prepare and transition smoothly to the next home! We can help ditch the stress and dive into everything you need to know about becoming a homeowner. RSVP to sign up for updates!
three men and one woman laughing during daytime

Dozens of Questions You’ll Have As A Buyer

Buying your first home? Congrats! It’s exciting, but let’s be real – it can also be overwhelming. There are so many things to think about, from the nitty-gritty details of the house itself to the bigger picture of neighborhood vibes and your budget. That’s why we put together this handy list of 80 questions to ask yourself, your realtor, and other experts along the way. Think of it as your ultimate cheat sheet for navigating the crazy world of home buying. We’ll cover everything from the age of the roof to whether the neighborhood has good coffee shops. So, take a deep breath, grab a latte, and let’s get started on making this whole home buying thing a breeze!
an empty room with white walls and wooden floors

What is a RECR?

Under Wisconsin Statute Section 709.01, sellers of residential real estate containing one to four dwelling units (including condominiums and time-share properties) are required to provide a Real Estate Condition Report (RECR) to prospective buyers. This applies to most residential property transfers, whether the seller is working with a real estate agent or selling the property themselves.
black calculator beside black pen on white printer paper

What you need to know about Mortgage Preapprovals

Hello future homeowner! We know buying a home can be a big step. In the current Seller’s market, a preapproval is a must. There is a lot of competition as a Buyer and Sellers must quickly weed out anybody that does not look like a serious contender.
two green and white pillows on empty bed

Buying a Home With a Nested Advisor

we get it. You’re not just buying a house – you’re envisioning your next chapter. Whether you’re dreaming of backyard barbecues, a home office sanctuary, or a walkable neighborhood with charming cafes, we understand that your ideal home is a reflection of the life you want to live.