More than the mortgage

Austin homeowners get hammered by more hidden costs than rest of Texas

Austin homeowners get hammered by more hidden costs than rest of Texas

Happy first time home buyers
Wine is not among the hidden costs for homeowners. Photo via duol.hu

To be sure, we agonize over the purchase price, down payment, and mortgage payments when we’re buying a home. But how many of us spend enough time considering how much we’ll be spending on the “hidden” costs of homeownership? If you’re a homebuyer in the Austin area, you definitely should pay attention to those numbers.

A new report from real estate website Zillow and professional services platform Thumbtack shows the Austin area ranks No. 1 among major Texas markets for the typical amount of money earmarked for commonly overlooked expenses like home insurance, maintenance, and, of course, property taxes. Nationally, Austin ranks ninth among the 35 largest U.S. metro areas covered in the report.

In the Austin area, the average annual tab for hidden homeowner expenses is $12,457, according to the report. That compares with $10,712 in Dallas-Fort Worth (No. 14 nationally), $10,110 in Houston (No. 19 nationally), and $9,171 in San Antonio (No. 25 nationally).

The average for all 35 metro markets is $9,394, meaning San Antonio is the only major market in Texas that sits below the national average.

For the four major Texas markets, property taxes make up roughly one-third of the frequently overlooked costs, with another one-third going toward utilities, says Aaron Terrazas, chief economist at Zillow. The rest of the tab is allocated to items like home insurance, lawncare, and house cleaning.

“Ongoing maintenance costs and annual fees are some of the most common surprises for first-time homebuyers after they finally become homeowners. While they are shopping, buyers tend to focus on their monthly mortgage payments, but other needs quickly add up after move-in,” Terrazas says in a release. “The list price is just the beginning of understanding the costs that come with being a homeowner, and it’s important to understand what other expenses you may have to account for when determining what you can afford.”

Not surprisingly, San Jose, California, tops the list for hidden costs, calculated at a whopping $20,655 a year. It’s followed by San Francisco ($17,758) and New York City ($15,721).