The list of costs for the typical buyer is longer than many realize, especially first-timers. Here are some major costs you must consider at the outset:

 

Mortgage fees and closing costs: Interest rates aren’t the only thing you should watch when shopping for your mortgage. In addition to the APR of your mortgage, make sure you have, in writing, the closing costs for your loan, points (percentage of the loan you must pay up-front) and miscellaneous bank fees. Ask hard questions and ask for fees that look unnecessary to be waived.

 

Taxes. If you’re anywhere near a city, chances are that property taxes will eat up a decent (or indecent) portion of your house payment. Make sure you know what the taxes on your property are, what they’ve been and where they’re likely headed before you buy.

 

PMI. If you don’t have 20 percent of your home’s cost in cash for a down-payment, you’ll almost assuredly have to pay private mortgage insurance, which is likely to remain a fixture of your payment for the life of the loan, thanks to recent changes in the law. Because PMI is based on your loan amount, this could add up to several hundred dollars a month on its own.

 

Homeowners insurance. Not all homeowner’s insurance policies are created equal, so shop far and wide for the best coverage/rate combination. There are dozens of companies that would love to have your business, so don’t just go with the first company your lender recommends.