The cost of homeownership adds up in California

A recent report on the hidden costs of homeownership by Zillow and Thumbtack analyzes costs often overlooked by homebuyers, such as property taxes, homeowners insurance and utilities and the most common homeowner maintenance expenses, which are house cleaning, gardening/lawn mower, landscaping, carpet cleaning; and specific regional costs like air conditioner maintenance, gutter cleaning and pest removal.

These “hidden” homeownership costs add up to a national average of $9,477 per year. Los Angeles has a higher average at $11,333 and San Francisco checks in at a robust $13,287 (second highest in the nation behind Boston, MA). The reason Los Angeles is above the national average is mainly due to California’s high cost of living. Things are just more expensive in California, including the cost of domestic labor, which is included under common homeowner maintenance expenses cited in the report. Ultimately, California’s pleasant climate and bountiful opportunities come with a price.

Homebuyers shouldn’t necessarily be scared away by the higher level of homeownership costs in California — not all homeowners hire a cleaner or gardener, as this analysis assumes. But there are definitely some extra costs new homeowners need to keep on their radar. Also, it is important to remember the occasional maintenance expenses that can come out of nowhere and end up costing more than a homeowner imagined. Therefore, homeowners should always set aside savings for big expenses that come along every few years. A few examples are roof repair and replacement; termite damage; water damage; mildew removal; paint/sealing (especially exposed wood) and appliance repair and replacement.

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