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First-time homebuyers: The Forgotten Costs of Buying

first-time homebuyers

First-time homebuyers: The Forgotten Costs of Buying


Are you a first-time homebuyer? It’s exciting to be looking for your very own home and searching Zillow or Realtor looking for the right place to call home.

At this point, you have probably used an online mortgage calculator to know how much of a down payment you will need.  When I purchased a new house recently to accommodate my growing family it took me back all the other expenses on top of a down payment that goes into buying a home.

The additional costs that come up do a few things to your budget that you don’t realize at first. Whether it is a first home purchase for you or not, remember to factor these costs in before you start looking for a home so you can better equip yourself to negotiate the price or better understand how much of a house you can actually afford.

The first thing to take note of is that these costs are un-reimbursable. It is common for house negotiations to come apart and for buyers/sellers to go their separate ways. There may be a good reason for this and as the buyer, you will be out some hard-earned money but it might save you from making a bad investment in a home.

These are the forgotten cost of buying a home that you should be aware of whether you fall into the first-time homebuyers category or not.

To Summarize The Article


Before you get too excited that you have saved up enough for a down payment on your first home, realize that you really haven’t saved enough, consider these forgotten costs to buying a home. By properly setting your house-saving goals in the beginning you will be a whole lot less discouraged later on.  The forgotten costs to buying a home includes appraisals, home inspections, initial escrow payment, closing costs, and repairs.

For example, if you were planning on putting 5% down thinking that was it, realize now you may actually need to double or triple that to cover closing costs and repair costs. Do things right and save properly. Don’t stretch your budget thin or think it is a good idea to take money out of your retirement account to make up the other costs.

Lastly, put yourself in the mindset that you are going to lose $1,500 as soon as you put an offer on a house. There are a variety of reasons why the deal may fall through, and you may not end up with the first house you go under contract with. First-time homebuyers struggle with walking away on bad deals because they don’t want to turn their back on the money they already have spent. While it isn’t pleasant losing $1,500 (appraisals, inspection) don’t allow your emotions to blindside you into buying a home that is either going to cost more in repairs than you have saved for or is not the right fit or a good deal for other reasons. Don’t be afraid to walk away.




No surprise here you have heard of houses getting appraised when people buy or refinance before, however, have you really prepared for it.  I just spent $600 for my appraisal in Colorado. I’m not a big fan of appraisals I understand why they are necessary, but it feels more like a broken system. This is an expense that you will incur that is un-reimbursable. If you back out of the house it is a sunk cost. If you need to get another appraisal because you don’t agree with the first appraisal this is another consideration.

What is an appraisal?

Appraisals are meant to let the lender aka the bank know if they must foreclose on your home what they can reasonably expect to sell the house for. An appraiser will do a few things they will search for recent sales of similar homes in the neighborhood to gain an understanding of the going house prices. They will make a judgment call on the current housing market and whether they think the market will continue going up in the future or down. Additionally, they will walk through the home assessing the layout and condition of the home. Then they come up with a number of what they feel the home is worth.


Home Inspection


Again, no surprise here. Home inspections are part of the buying a home process. However, you need to make sure you have budgeted for this. Before buying my most recent home I had looked at averages for home inspection costs. All the online resources were way under what I paid so I was unpleasantly surprised by the actual cost of inspecting a home. I paid $650 as the base amount to have a 1200 sq foot home inspected and a few years back paid $500 to have a condo inspected. This is double the averages I was finding online and yes, I checked a few home inspectors. The base cost for an inspection isn’t always enough either because there is a lot of additional specific inspections you can add on that can be worth it.

First-time homebuyers should note that when you are spending upward of a quarter of a million dollars on a home, skimping on a thorough inspection to save $500 is not the wisest. Additional common inspections and tests that you can add to the base inspection is radon testing (recommended by the EPA even if you are buying a new home because it is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers), mold inspection/test, septic/well inspection, and sewer line to home inspection.

After you add in some of these additional inspections pretty soon you are easily at $1,000 for a home inspection. Once again this will be lost money if you don’t buy the home but money well spent either way.




I’ve never bought a brand-new home and even if I did, I probably would have found a way to upgrade something to the home. Repair costs need to be factored into your savings for a new home. This depends a little bit on the buyer. If you are getting a brand-new home or completely renovated home, you may have to worry about this less, but you are going to pay a premium for it. Most of the time even if some part of the home has been renovated you will pay for some other repair cost. A hot water heater may go out, carpet needs to be replaced, the roof needs to be redone, the backyard needs to be re-landscaped, windows, knocking out a wall, a crooked door fixed, repainted, and the list goes on.

Before you have begun touring homes and are still in the savings phase keep repair costs in mind. You won’t be able to nail down exactly what you are going to need but I would recommend setting aside $5,000 for the minimum amount. After purchasing that new home you will really want to do something to it whether it be getting rid of ratty carpet or replacing old blinds. If you don’t use your repair budget you can then allocate it to an emergency fund for the time when something does go wrong or put it towards that mortgage. This is one thing that I have always done and have been really grateful that I took an extra 6 months to accrue a repair fund before buying a home. First-time homebuyers I want you to be savvy/prepared and not the average first-time homebuyer.


Initial escrow payment


Escrow is used to pay property taxes and insurance. This is usually factored into your monthly mortgage payment as is the interest payment. At closing, you are faced with an upfront payment of 2 months for these expenses. Just another expense most people don’t consider when saving for a home. This is a hard category to give an estimate on what is a reasonable amount to plan for but I would say putting an extra $500 in the savings account would be wise.


Closing costs


If you are a first-time homebuyer just know that we all face closing costs, and no one likes paying them. There is only one way to get around them and that is to have the seller take care of them if you are lucky. It is a good rule of thumb to have 2% – 5% for closing costs based upon home value. A $350,000 home with 4% for closing would mean you need an additional $14,000 on top of your down payment. What does the closing cost go for? Well, it can go to some of the things we mentioned already like an appraisal, inspection, and escrow, however, there are various other costs that we haven’t talked about. Closing costs can include title search, credit report, recording fees, underwriting fees, hoa transfer fee, closing fee, and application fee to name a few.


First-time homebuyers feeling the struggle?

Not sure how you are going to be able to ever save enough to buy a home? A lot of people feel the same way especially when housing prices are surging. Take a deep breath, people of all walks of life figure it out. Have patience and determination. The more you work to get there the sweeter it will be in the end. At BlackBird Finance we are here to accelerate your prosperity and help you achieve your financial goals so reach out to us and see if our services are worth the investment for you. We feel they are, sign up for a discovery call.