Owning a home isn’t as simple as just paying your mortgage.  There are other costs that you need to factor into your budget.  Here’s a quick snapshot.

Property Taxes

Property taxes in the Houston Inner Loop amount to roughly 2.5% of the county’s appraised value.  This appraised value can vary from home to home.  You may find that some home owners have done a good job of keeping their appraised value low which in turn lowers the tax.  This is a good thing.  Property taxes in Harris County are due every year by January 31st.  The most common exemption that home owners can apply for is the homestead exemption which applies to your primary residence.  This exemption reduces the taxable value by about 20%.

Home Owner’s Insurance

This cost can vary depending on the value of your home and the coverage you select.  Be sure to talk to your insurance agent to ask about the dwelling and contents coverage.  Other factors that influence cost are the deductible and add on policies like auto.

Utility Bills

Common utilities for your home will include electricity, water, gas, internet, cable, and phone.  Be sure to ask your Realtor to request the utility bill history for any home that you are considering.


Older homes require more maintenance than new homes.  You should get a pretty good idea on the deferred maintenance on a particular home during the home inspection.  It’s a good idea to put some money aside every month so that you have cash available when the hot water heater needs to be replaced or for some other unforeseen maintenance item.

Cleaning Supplies

This isn’t a huge expense but it’s definitely one that gets overlooked.  Keeping your home clean and tidy inside and out requires tools and supplies.  Be sure you budget for the basics that you’ll need at move in and factor in an ongoing cost to keep your supplies on hand.

Lawn Maintenance

Whether you are planning to maintain your yard yourself or hire someone to do it, there will be a cost involved.  For the do-it-yourselfer, plan on purchasing a lawn mower, weed-eater, rake, broom, trash can, and other small tools.  The cost to hire someone to maintain your yard will vary depending on the size and complexity.

Decorating and Furnishing

For first-time home buyers, decorating and furnishing can be a big expense if you are planning to upgrade from the stuff you’ve had since college.  If upgrading is important to you, be sure that you factor in this cost along with your down payment and closing costs to ensure that you have saved enough money.

Home Owner’s Association Dues

HOA dues are common in master-planned communities and town home developments.  They vary from home to home so be sure to ask your Realtor to do some research.  These dollars are used to maintain the common areas in the development.House-Value5