3 Things You Can Do to Make Homeownership Cheaper
There are steps you can take to spend less as a property owner.
- The cost of homeownership extends well beyond monthly mortgage payments.
- A few strategic moves on your part could help lower your ongoing costs.
Buying a home can be daunting. Not only do you have to cover your mortgage payments, but you also have to tackle a host of peripheral costs, from property taxes to insurance and repairs. A few strategic moves, however, could make homeownership a lot less expensive.
1. Do some of your own maintenance
When you own a home, you have lots of ongoing maintenance. And the more of it you do yourself, the less money you spend.
That said, weigh the cost of outsourcing maintenance versus freeing up hours in your week. If you own a home with a large backyard, it might take you three hours every weekend to cut your grass. If you work long hours during the week and want to enjoy your weekends, it could be worth paying for a lawn service that gets the job done in 30 minutes with a large riding mower.
Make a list of your maintenance tasks and figure out which are the most time-consuming. A good compromise is to tackle shorter tasks yourself and consider paying for those that eat into your free time.
2. Don't neglect small repairs
It's easy to let minor repairs fall by the wayside when you own a home. But if you're not careful, smaller issues could become larger ones, resulting in high repair costs.
You may not feel like you should rush to repair a leaky pipe under your sink, for example, especially if it doesn't impact your daily life. But if you let that pipe keep leaking, it could cause mold issues. Once that happens, you could have to rip out that cabinet and replace it -- far more expensive than replacing a pipe.
3. Refinance your mortgage
The lower the interest rate on your mortgage, the less expensive your monthly housing payments. So if interest rates today average less than what you're paying, it could make sense to swap your existing home loan for a new one. That's especially true if it lowers the interest rate on your mortgage by 1% or more.
If you're looking to refinance your mortgage, make sure you have a strong credit score, which makes it more likely that you'll snag a low rate on a new loan. Additionally, consider whether you’ll stay in your home long enough to recoup the closing costs for a refinance.
If you pay $4,000 in closing costs to refinance your mortgage, but that saves you $200 a month, it will take you 20 months to break even. So if you think you may move within two years, refinancing doesn't make sense.
Homeownership can be expensive, but a few key moves on your part could make it more affordable. Keep these ideas in mind if you're having a hard time paying for your home and the expenses that come with it.
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