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Navigating the Hidden Costs of Homeownership

National Homeownership Month: The Frustration of Low Inventory

June is a time where we celebrate National Homeownership Month, a time to reflect on the joys of owning a home, but also to acknowledge some of the challenges that come with the home-buying process. One major issue that continues to affect homebuyers is the frustration caused by low inventory in the market.

Inventory levels have been trending downwards for several years, and the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated this problem. The pandemic caused a surge in demand for homes, as more and more people desired a larger space to work from home and shelter in place.

However, the number of homes for sale did not increase at the same rate, leading to an imbalance between supply and demand. This resulted in homes selling quickly, often within hours of being listed, and at prices higher than the asking price.

The frustration caused by low inventory is particularly felt among millennials, who are looking to buy their first home. Many millennials have been competing with investors who offer cash for homes, making it difficult for them to secure a property.

As a result, they are either forced to compromise their wish list or continue renting for a longer period than they had anticipated. Cost Comparison: New Construction vs.

Renovated Homes

For those who do manage to secure a home, they face another dilemma: Should they buy a new home or an older home that requires renovations? New construction homes often come with a higher price tag, but some buyers argue that they are worth the investment due to better energy efficiency, lower maintenance costs, and the latest design features.

On the other hand, renovated homes can offer a lower price point, but buyers should be aware of the potential risks and hidden costs. Renovations can be unpredictable, and the actual cost of a renovation may exceed the initial budget due to unforeseen structural problems or design changes.

Buyers should also consider the cost of maintenance and repairs that come with an older home and factor these expenses into their decision-making process. Hidden Costs: What Buyers Need to Know

Regardless of whether buyers choose a new construction or a renovated home, there are hidden costs that they should be aware of.

For starters, the purchase of a new home requires permits for construction, plumbing, and electrical work, which can add to the total cost. Buyers should also budget for design plans, land, landscaping, and construction insurance, all of which can increase the final amount.

Even renovated homes come with their own hidden costs. Some older homes may require costly updates to meet city or county codes, such as replacing the roof or updating the electrical wiring.

Buyers should also consider the cost of adding their own personal touch, such as repainting or updating the kitchen cabinetry.

Construction Delays and Environmental Impact

Moving beyond the home-buying process, it is worth noting that the construction industry is facing its own set of challenges. A recent CNBC report highlighted the impact of rising lumber prices and labor shortages on the construction industry.

The cost of lumber has quadrupled in recent months, making it difficult for builders to keep affordable prices for consumers. At the same time, the construction industry is struggling to attract workers, leading to construction delays and increasing costs.

Another issue worth considering is the environmental impact of building new homes. Sustainable building practices, such as using energy-efficient technology and reducing carbon emissions, are becoming increasingly important to homebuyers.

New homes can be designed to meet these standards, but the construction process itself can contribute to environmental degradation.

Guaranteed Pricing for Custom Homes

Lastly, those who are considering building their own custom home should be aware of the importance of guaranteed pricing. Custom homes can be an attractive option for those who want complete control over the design of their home, but these projects can quickly spiral out of budget.

Builders may offer a low starting price to attract customers, only to add in additional costs later on once construction has started. A guaranteed pricing model ensures that customers are aware of the total cost of construction upfront, giving them peace of mind throughout the process.


National Homeownership Month is a time to celebrate the joys of homeownership, but it’s also an opportunity to acknowledge some of the challenges in the home-buying process. From low inventory to hidden costs, homebuyers must navigate a complex landscape.

Similarly, those who are building their own custom homes face challenges such as rising lumber prices and the environmental impact of construction. By understanding these issues and taking the necessary steps to mitigate risk, homebuyers can increase their chances of finding their dream home.

Buyer Beware for Existing Inventory

For many homebuyers, the allure of owning an older home is hard to resist. Older homes often come with character, charm, and a sense of history, and may even be located in established neighborhoods with mature landscaping.

However, buyers should do their due diligence by evaluating the condition of existing homes before making an offer.

Importance of Evaluating the Condition of Existing Homes

Before buying an existing home, it is important to conduct a thorough home inspection to determine the condition of the property. A home inspector can identify any potential issues, such as outdated electrical wiring or a leaky roof.

Additionally, a professional appraisal can provide an estimated value of the home, giving buyers an idea of its potential resale value. The results of a home inspection and appraisal can also be used to negotiate with the seller.

A potential buyer may be able to ask for repairs or price concessions based on the results of these reports, giving them more negotiating leverage.

Warning Against Waiving Contingencies

Buyers should be cautious about waiving the appraisal and home inspection contingencies in order to buy a home. While waiving these contingencies may make an offer more attractive to a seller, it also carries a significant monetary risk.

An appraisal contingency protects the buyer in the event that the home appraises for less than the purchase price. Without the appraisal contingency, the buyer may have to come up with the difference in cash or risk having their financing fall through.

Similarly, a home inspection contingency protects buyers from unexpected repair costs that may arise after closing. Without this contingency, the buyer will have to pay for any repairs out of pocket.

It is important to understand that waiving contingencies may make an offer more attractive to sellers, but it also increases the risk of buyer’s remorse and financial loss.

Preparedness for Repair Costs

For those who are looking to purchase an older home as an investment, it is important to be prepared for repair costs. Renovating a older home can be costly, but may also be necessary in order for it to achieve its full potential value.

Buyers should budget for costs such as a renovated kitchen and bathrooms, updated electrical and plumbing systems, and repairs to the foundation or roof. It is important to remember that repair costs can quickly add up, so buyers should be prepared to set aside a significant amount of money for this purpose.

Additionally, buyers should work with a trusted contractor who can provide accurate estimates for repairs and renovations.


Buying an existing home can be a great investment, but it is important for buyers to do their due diligence before making an offer. By conducting a thorough home inspection, obtaining a professional appraisal, and being cautious about waiving contingencies, buyers can reduce their financial risk and increase their chances of making a sound investment.

For those who are looking to renovate an older home, being prepared for repair costs is essential to achieving the home’s full potential value. In conclusion, homebuyers must exercise caution when purchasing a property.

A comprehensive home inspection and professional appraisal should be completed before making an offer. Waiving appraisal and home inspection contingencies may make an offer more attractive to the seller, but it also carries a significant financial risk.

And for those who wish to purchase an older home as an investment, being prepared for repair costs is crucial. Understanding the hidden costs of buying a home can help buyers make informed decisions, reduce the risk of financial loss, and increase the chances of a sound investment.

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