Cincinnati Real Estate

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Kathy S. Koops GRI

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Can You Afford Your Home?

filed under: Real Estate posted on March 15th, 2016

Home Ownership
Several years ago I wrote about the cost of home ownership and though the housing market continues to improve- lots of  buyers are still stressed out because they under estimated the cost of owning a home or condo.  Adding fuel to the fire some mortgage companies are advertising easy and fast access loans and refinancing for buyers- luring more people into thinking that getting a mortgage is the only cost associated with owning a home or condo.

So maybe it’s time for an update of an article from April, 2012.

Sometimes owning a home can be a lot like owning a car.

You take care of routine maintenance, keep it clean and maybe even update the interiors and/or exteriors and everything is humming along….then all hell breaks loose. And in the past week our “maintained and updated” home decided to throw us a curve ball and by springing a leak in the main water line. Thankfully our downhill neighbor noticed continued wet and squishy grass and decided to share his discovery with us last week. After a few minutes of walking around the front yard a small subterranean pond was found and calls for help were made to Fairfield at 4:50 pm. Much to my surprise a human answered and promised to have somebody out to investigate that evening. Within an hour a very helpful gentleman arrived and pin pointed the leak and reassured us that we would not have water spraying up in the air or lose access to water in the house. And, as the inspector stamped around the front yard spraying blue paint to mark the path of the current water line, he told us that while we could patch the leak- chances were very good that another leak would appear somewhere else within 6 months- so might as well replace the whole line.

Welcome to home ownership!

Just to be clear in our neighborhood, the water line from the street to the house is the home owner’s responsibility. And while running a new line any repair or replacement of any damage to our much coveted sidewalks is also our responsibility. The plumber arrived the next day to scope out the job and provide us with an estimate. Since the original line was copper this time the job required digging a different route for the new line. Of course part of the replacement required removing one block of sidewalk concrete which required another estimate from the concrete guy. If we’d been lucky and had a “blue max piping” problem, sometimes plumbers can run the new line through the old one -saving digging and trenching costs…but no such luck.

Short story long, on Tuesday my private lake was drained when the new waterline was installed. Because we live on top of a very rocky area the efforts to burrow the line without digging up the front lawn were futile- but thanks to a diligent excavating contractor- the damage is minimal. My injured sidewalk is clearly marked as a hazard for the neighborhood walkers and cement contractor will pour a new block as soon as his schedule allows.

All-in-all we have/will spend a good chunk of change to “fix” the problem. The good news is no interior water damage to us or our downhill neighbor and better news is that we had a slush fund for this type of emergency. Bad news is that many of today’s homeowners don’t have any funds to take care of the unexpected.

Home ownership is the “American Dream” but without planning and saving it can become the “American Nightmare”.

If you had purchased my home and closed in March- the waterline would have been your expense. We haven’t had any past problems and the neighborhood hasn’t experienced a rash of water line leaks so there was no reason to anticipate a leak. Today’s buyer, within the greater Cincinnati real estate market, typically puts 3.5% down, often requests the sellers to pay a % of the closing costs and leave the closing with little, if any, cash reserves for a rainy day. Some people are very lucky and have plumbers, concrete contractors, electricians and other helpful types as family members or close friends. But in my experience most buyers have to pick up the phone, call and pay somebody to make the repairs.

Buyers need to use common sense when making a decision to purchase- even though you may be “qualified” for a certain loan amount- are you over committing and underestimating the cost of home ownership?

Home Warranties are a good hedge against the cost of repairing/replacing major appliances and systems-but they don’t cover the goofy expensive things that pop up unexpectedly. As a Realtor(c) it’s my job to help you navigate your way through the buying or selling process….but as a home owner and “mom” I admit the lack of buyer’s “rainy day fund” scares me.

Call/Txt  if you need help with finding the “right” home or condo for your needs.

 

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