Home Shoppers Beware These 3 Hidden Home Expenses

Home shopping is about livability – not hidden home expenses. But if you’re focused entirely on the wall color, the view and how many bedrooms, you could be missing some expensive features. Costs that will soon be yours if you decide to buy. 

It’s funny that as a Realtor, we can pick out the experienced home buyers based off the questions they ask. Chief amongst them: “When were the systems replaced?” When they ask about systems, they are asking about the big three; the roof, the HVAC system, and the water heater. 

Not sure why you should care, or what this is going to cost you if you’ve overlooked this detail? Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Let’s quickly go through the most costliest systems in a home.

Hidden Home Expense #1: The Roof

A roof is one of the most important parts of your (potentially) new home. Major roof repairs can be costly, and roof replacements are expensive. A damaged roof can let water into your attic and home. Poor roof drainage and clogged gutters can put water everywhere you don’t want it to be. 

A roof is somewhere that should not be compromised on because the expenses can quickly overwhelm. It is important to understand the expected lifespan of the your roof. While most home inspectors are generalists and defer to specialists, they will be able to ballpark your roof age.

Most roofs last for 25-35 years, but extreme weather can shorten this by a third in a worst case scenario. A roof replacement can run from $3,500 to $45,000 depending upon the size of your home, the underlying damage and type of replacement. 

Hidden Home Expense #2: HVAC – Cooling & Heating Systems

One of the next biggest expenses that we look for as agents is the age and condition of the HVAC system. The age, integrity and maintenance of an HVAC system can be critical in judging it’s lifespan. Control systems can wear out over time, and a property maintained system can live well past it’s expected lifecycle. Yearly “checkups” and system maintenance can double a HVAC life expectancy. 

Newer heating and cooling systems are much more energy efficient. New coolants and super efficient burners can save you thousands on heat and cooling. So it may be worthwhile to upgrade despite the expense. Its worth noting that certain HVAC systems can be replaced in parts while others will require a full changeover. 

These systems can run from $3,000 to $9,000 depending upon your home size and replacement complexity. 

Hidden Home Expense #3: Hot Water Heater

While not the most expensive system, a hot water heater is an important system. We say important because depending upon it’s location, if it fails it could cause a lot of damage. Water going through your walls and house is never a bad thing. 

Hot water heaters generally run $1,000 to $2,000 depending upon the type. As agents, we estimate a lifespan of a hot water heater at 12 years. That doesn’t mean that they can’t last much longer. My father has one that – knock on wood – is 30 years old and still gets the job done. 

If you have a water heater above the basement level, it’s worth checking out whether it has a drip pan underneath it. It’s a tub designed with a drain. In the event that there is a breakdown and a release of water, it goes safely though a drain and not through your dining room ceiling. 

Fixing the problem…

Whoops did you not check these hidden home expenses out? Or do you have a home that might need some upgrades? It’s ok. You’re still ahead of the curve. The worst time to recognize that you need a new HVAC system is the dead of winter with 2 feet of snow on the ground. 

If you know you need to replace your systems, it gives you time to plan. That means shopping for roofs when contractor pricing is best, or replacing a HVAC system when plumbers aren’t busy. Getting them changed out in the contractors “off-season” can save you thousands. 

If you need to have roof work done in a rainstorm, or a new air conditioner put in during a heat wave you can expect to pay a premium for it. 

If you need suggestions, give us a call. We have a rolodex of contractors that we and our clients have used successfully in the past. If you don’t have a trusted contractor, or plumber, chances are we do and e’re happy to share for our clients. 

Alexander Wissel
Alexander Wissel has worn many hats since graduating from one of the finest art schools in the country. Mutual fund expert, financial advisor, insurance specialist, market researcher, financial editor, author, Real Estate Agent, Realtor... He loves passing on actionable knowledge he's accumulated helping people prepare for the future.
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