Buying a home is by no means a small decision. Homeownership is inherently complicated, and as rewarding as it can be for some, it can be equally frustrating or confusing for others. To that end, we recently asked homeowners of the BuzzFeed Community to share the "homeowner surprises" they weren't expecting, and they covered just about everything from tiny annoyances to full-out regrets. These are some of the most insightful responses.
1. "Honestly, the HOA really surprised me. We live in a small urban townhome community. It’s our first home after saving for years and we love everything about it...except our weird HOA neighbors. They were super nice at first, but over the course of a couple of years, they’ve gotten pettier and pettier..."
2. "I bought my home a year ago and a lot has gone wrong where I’ve needed to call contractors or maintenance people. They’re always men, and I know they’re taking advantage of me with their quotes. I even had one guy, a painter, say: 'You need someone to fix these windows, they don’t close properly, but you need to be careful as people will be taking advantage of you with that accent, just like I’ve done.'"
3. "I wasn't expecting the anxiety associated with owning a home! I spent the first six to nine months worried that a pipe would burst, the water heater would break, or a limb would fall and damage the roof. My mortgage is literally half what I would spend if I renewed my old lease, so I put that extra in a separate account for emergency repairs. It's helping me feel less freaked out over maintenance and repairs that will inevitably happen."
4. "I didn't realize that my monthly mortgage payments could go up since it's all tied to escrow. I never considered that my property taxes would increase, period. In my mind, I was locked into a certain payment amount for the rest of my life. The joke's on me — in my first year of homeownership, it went up $50 a month. I'm barely making it by as it is with my old payment."
—Anonymous, 36, New Hampshire
"The year after purchasing, my property taxes went up. Therefore my mortgage went up. This happened three years in a row."
5. "Upkeep is the biggest thing you have to stay on top of. If you don't take care of the small things when they go wrong, they will cost you WAY more in the future. Basically, owning a house is a never-ending battle against water."
6. "You're often forced to DIY even if you'd prefer to hire someone and have the money to do so. Sometimes contractors are booked very far out if it's a specialty thing, like drainage issues. If it's a small thing, they normally don't want to bother unless it's at least a half-day project for them so they can make it worth their while, financially."
7. "During the week, I barely have time to complete even the basic chores, so I'm always waiting for a day off from work so I can actually get larger projects done. Then there’s taking care of the front AND back yard, keeping the grass healthy, mowing, and keeping weeds and blackberry bushes from overtaking your lawn. Don’t forget the annual gutter maintenance, pressure washing if needed, and chimney cleaning."
8. "I bought a new build thinking it would be less of a headache, but our builders were so shoddy that we’ve spent the first year in our house hassling them to fix terrible tile work and paint jobs. I had to repaint all the baseboards and redo all the caulking around the house. Oh, and cherry on top: Our floors have a 'manufacturer defect' according to our inspector, so now we have to figure out whether or not we feel like replacing all of our floors."
9. "I'm 45 and living in the UK, but that's just a disclaimer to show that it was much easier for me to own my own house when I was in my early 20s than it is now. I honestly don't understand how people on normal salaries can afford houses these days."
"What surprises me most about homeownership (and always will) is that maintaining your house and keeping it looking nice requires CONSTANT upkeep, and it's not cheap, either. If you don't keep up with this stuff, your house (and the market value of it) starts to show it FAST."
10. "I love the financial freedom that owning your own house gives you, but it also takes away your freedom to change. You can’t just up and move, you have to make sure you have money for repairs, and you’re more tied down, physically. But there’s also something so satisfying about building that equity if you’re fortunate enough to not buy during a housing bubble. It just comes at a cost."
11. "Recent or soon-to-be buyers, beware: In this market, sellers have no incentive to make the home look presentable. You’re left with the despicable state these people left it in before because they know you’re desperate for a home."
12. "There are a lot of things that I didn’t know were part of my property that, when broken, I needed to be the one to fix. I knew we had to shovel the sidewalk in front of our house when the weather was bad, but I didn’t know we had to repair it, too. It cost us $10K to fix cracks in the sidewalk that weren’t hurting anyone and weren’t caused by us."
13. "There are homeowner manuals available, but what really surprised me about owning a home is all of the regular maintenance on things you don’t even know you have! I bought a 100-year-old house and when it was built, fire codes were much laxer, so my fireplace was built on a wood frame. The chimney and such work just fine, but when I had someone come out to clean it, they wouldn’t even touch it unless the whole fireplace was redone to make it fire-safe. I also didn’t know I had to change the filter on my heater, dishwasher, and AC units frequently. All things I found out when they stopped working properly."
14. "Don’t be fooled by buying a new construction house thinking that the house will not have issues. After a major plumbing issue at my parents’ '70s house, I decided to buy a new build. I’ve been dealing with a water leak in a room I haven’t been able to use since I bought my house. Seven years ago. No one can seem to figure out what’s causing the issue so it’s more money down the drain every time I call a different tradesperson to try and solve the problem."
"All owned properties are money pits — what makes it worth the purchase or not is what you’re spending the money on."
15. "My husband and I have owned our home for seven years. The amount of money that has to go into home repairs, appliances, and taxes makes us wonder on a regular basis if it is worth it. I definitely recommend doubling whatever you think your safety net should be. Also, buy used items when possible and repair appliances instead of replacing them when you can. But, because we own, we can also borrow against our mortgage in the event of a real emergency."
16. "If there are large trees close to your house, know that they’re going to be expensive to remove. But having your house knocked down by a tree in a storm? Much more expensive."
17. "I regret not getting a house with a dishwasher — or even space for a dishwasher. Sometimes, I just use my cutting board as a plate because I don’t want to do another dish."
18. And finally: "I was doing well financially before I purchased a home. Now? Most of my money goes towards the mortgage and bills. I wasn't prepared for how little money I'd have left over each month. Owning my place by myself is an amazing feeling, but sometimes I wonder if it's worth it."
If the reality of owning a home was totally different from what you expected it to be — good or bad — tell us what surprised you. Or, if you've decided that homeownership doesn't make sense for you, let us know why in the comments below.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.