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No. of Recommendations: 6

For those of you who own homes, what has been the unexpected expenses for you? What do you wish someone had told you before you put the key in the front door of your new home for the first time? (I am getting a pest inspection done before I sign the final papers).

As SP points out, reserves are critical for condos/townhomes. Your HOA dues and/or special assessments can become very large expenses. You also need to find out who is responsible for things like exterior paint. Since it's a condo, the condo association probably is, but in townhomes, you can be responsible. You are probably responsible if your water heater floods, but if a pipe in the wall breaks and floods - who is responsible - you or the condo association?

Also - pools are often a big money suck for condo associations. Has the pool been replastered recently? Have things like filters/heaters been replaced recently, or will they be due for replacement soon? Are there reserves for the pool? Insurance (that you pay for through your HOA dues) for condo complexes with pools is usually more expensive than for those without pools.

Also - check for restrictions on making changes - do you have to have window coverings with white backs, for instance? Can you put decorations in the windows, or on patios/steps without getting approvals?

As far as potential costs - a complete home inspection (not just a pest inspection) is critical, and you need to go with the home inspector. The home inspector probably won't give you cost estimates, but they should be able to tell you what systems look like they will be due for replacement in the near future, and what maintenance can/should be done to ensure that things will last as long as possible.

Are the window coverings staying? If not, that can be quite expensive.

Do you have a basic set of hand tools? You should spring for that if you don't.

It doesn't sound like you are wanting to make a lot of changes immediately, so that's good. If you do, make sure you have more than you estimate the project will really cost saved up before you start.

Things like property taxes and HOA dues will continue to increase in the future, even if your mortgage P&I payment will be fixed, so you need to ensure that you will have the capability to pay for those things going forward, even after you stop working, so you will be sure that you can afford that dog.

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