The Hidden Costs of Homeownership and How to Save Money.

The true cost of homeownership is more than just loan payments you make to the bank for the money you are borrowing. There are other costs that might be included in your mortgage payment and some that are NOT!  

The total hidden costs, which include Property Taxes, Homeowner's Insurance, Home Maintenance, Utility Bills, HOA (Home Owners Association) Fees, HVAC service, lawn care, carpet cleaning, and more. Houston homes come with an average of $10,000 in hidden costs each year.  The median property tax payment in Texas is $3,390. 

Property Taxes

In the great state of Texas Property Taxes can count for a large portion of the hidden cost of owning a home. Property taxes are set by the appraisal district assessed value of your property.  Harris County Appraisal District and  Fort bend Appraisal District are the government agencies that determine your assessed values.

It's important to note that there is a difference between the true value of your home and the locally assessed values. Accessed values can also be taxed at different rates depending on which tax district you are in. Are you in a MUD? A Municipal Utility District (MUD) is a political subdivision of the State of Texas authorized by the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to provide water, sewage, drainage, and other utility-related services within the MUD boundaries learn the FACTs

On average in the Houston metroplex, the annual property total tax rate is around 2.03%. That’s nearly double the national average of 1.07%, but these values can vary largely, going from 1% to 3.5% in certain neighbors. 

How to Save

Be sure to apply for your Homestead Exemptions which can save you money each year.   Homestead exemptions remove part of your home's value from taxation, so they lower your taxes. Homestead exemptions only apply to your principal residence. Apply here HCAD or FBCAD.  You may file for any homestead exemption up to two years after the delinquency date. The delinquency date is normally Feb. 1st. 

For example, your home is appraised at $100,000, and you qualify for a $25,000 exemption (this is the amount mandated for school districts), you will pay school taxes on the home as if it was worth only $75,000. Taxing units have the option to offer a separate exemption of up to 20 percent of the total value.


The cost of insurance for your home in case of fires or other natural disasters can be high, especially near the coastal regions, where wind and storm damages can occur. Texas is the third most expensive state in this great country to ensure your home, behind only Louisiana and Oklahoma. The average Insurance cost around Texas is $1954 ( $163 a month) and the average in Houston is around $2500 a year. Of course, the cost of homeowners insurance will vary by the amount of coverage.

However, damage due to flooding, whether from a hurricane or another source, is almost never covered by homeowners insurance! To protect your home against flooding, you must buy a stand-alone flood insurance policy. Curious to see if your home is in a flood plain. 

How to Save

Be sure to shop around for prices, what your deductible is and what coverage you're getting. It is best to shop it yearly for changes or you can have a broker shop it for you. 

HOA and Condo Fees

In Houston, HOA fees can add $1000 a year to the cost of homeownership. Condo fees which are normally paid monthly can be even higher. The HOA will be used to maintain the shared property. Home owner associations collect fees or dues (monthly or yearly) from all community members. Be sure to check to see if the home you are purchasing has an HOA or other fees. HOA fees can be lower or much higher depending on the size of your house or condominium and what services provided. The larger the homeowner area normally the higher the HOA fee.

 HOA dues are simply a way for members of a community to maintain their quality of living for a cost that is far less than what they would pay individually. 

How to Save

Be sure to check what the yearly fees are for each neighborhood and which amenities are included. Being part of an HOA does have added benefits by joining resources together you can enjoy the more amenities that you get to share in the cost, pools, a personal gym, and professional landscaping. Some neighbors have multiple pools, tennis courts, or golf course access. If those things are not important to you, a cost-benefit analysis of what you will use vs what you will be paying for can be important. 

Paying HOA dues does ensure that you can have a safe, comfortable quality of life, all while saving yourself money in the long run. 


Utility Cost

Utility bills vary, but the average monthly residential electricity bill in Texas is $136 for a 2400 square foot home, which will be high in the summer and lower in the winter. 

Natural gas bill, the average monthly gas bill in the US is $72.10, though natural gas costs more in some states than others. 

Water, the average water bill costs $70.39 per month this can vary basic on the size of your household, and if you have a larger lawn expect to spend more to keep that grass green. 

How to Save

Natural gas water heaters and stoves can save you money each month vs the cost of electricity.  The advantages of gas are lower monthly energy costs, heat faster, still available during a power outage. 

Install WaterSense-certified faucets, these models reduce the flow without compromising performance and are 30% more efficient than standard faucets. Fix any water leaks like running toilets, which could be dumping hundreds of gallons of water down the drain every day. Adjust the lawn mower height to two inches, the taller grass shades roots and holds soil moisture better than shorter grass, so you'll need to waterless. Find more water-saving tips

New appliances can save money, look for the ENERGY STAR “Energy Saving Tips” Check out Reliant Bill Estimator to see what the electric bill could be. 

Be sure to shop your Texas electric provider here at to save money. 


Home Maintenance and Repairs 

Using a "1%" rule, you should set aside at least "1%" of your home’s value every year for home maintenance. For a $450,000 house, that is $4500 per year that you could expect to pay on annual basis. Some years could be more and in other years it could be less.  Depending on the age and condition of the home the percent could reach up to 4% a year!  Homebuyers should be prepared to spend at least a few thousand dollars a year, on home maintenance costs.


Texas can have some extreme weather, and without a working Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) System, life can be miserable. Remember the HVACs can be expensive and some large homes may have 2 or 3. 

How to Save 

Homeowners should have their HVAC systems inspected at least once per year, which may reduce the cost of an annual inspection. Many companies offer service contracts or maintenance plans. Preventative maintenance is essential for keeping your manufacturer warranty intact and improving the performance, efficiency, and lifespan of your cooling system. 

The Roof

We can't live without it. Roofs are something we rarely think about until there is a problem. Roofs will generally last around 20 years. The average roof replacement costs from $4,286 to $6,429 for a new asphalt shingle roof on a 1,800 square foot home. Different factors can affect the overall cost, the home size, slope and pitch of the roof, roof materials installed, labor, and any permits. 

 How to Save

As expensive as repairing a roof can be, it can save you a ton of money in the future if a roof leak can cause thousands of dollars in damage to the house and furniture. Those same leaks can actually end up in electrical spaces, which can either cause your electricity to not work or even cause a fire. A roof can affect your heating and cooling bills as it is not as protective against outdoor temperatures. Consider filing a claim on your insurance or any warranties if your roof is in of repairs or needs replacing, it can save you thousands. 


Beautiful landscaping does not come cheap and to maintain a big yard expect the cost to increase.  Lawn care or tree service, you can expect to pay $50 to $100 per hour. For larger jobs such as installation, prices range from $4 to $12 per square foot. When starting from scratch, most homeowners will spend between $3,000 and $15,950 for landscaping. 

How to save

Plant perennials instead of annuals, choosing foliage that is not just season will keep you from replanting each season which can save you money. Planting shape trees can keep your home significantly cooler and help you save money.  Shop plant sales in the fall and save 30%. Looking for more ways to save on lawn care


Don't let the FEAR hold you back from homeownership, know the FACTs. We can help you with all of your homeownership questions, contact us today. - "Opening Doors To New Beginnings" 



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