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Laura Berry

Former Insurance Agent

Former Insurance Agent

Joshua Adamson

Joshua is a copywriter at Obrella who for more than 10 years has been creating content about insurance, health care, and more. He helps companies explain complex insurance subjects in simple ways so that customers can make smart buying decisions. He spends way too much time binge-watching Netflix, loves the outdoors and has a cat who tolerates him.

UPDATED: Dec 11, 2023

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5 Ways Homeowners Gouge Themselves Financially

Burning Money

Buying a home is expensive enough without spending extra on things you don’t need. Keep more money in your pocket by steering clear of these financial traps for homeowners.

#1: Private Mortgage Insurance

If you can afford to put 20% or more down on your home, do it. It will save you from having to purchase private mortgage insurance—a fee that protects lenders in case you default on your loan. Since putting less than 20% means your lender will be staking 80% or more of the price of your home, it’s a safeguard for them in the case you can’t pay off your mortgage.

Some lenders allow you to cancel your mortgage insurance once you’ve paid 80% of your mortgage. However, this is up to the individual institution. Since mortgage insurance usually costs around 0.5% to 1% of the entire loan amount annually, that means you could be paying an extra $2,500 a year on a $250,000 home. Over the course of a 30-year mortgage, this could add up to $75,000 in insurance!

“10-20% of energy efficiency is lost through windows.”


#2: Leaky Windows

Did you know that 10-20% of your home’s heat can be lost through the glass of your windows? This doesn’t mean you need to run out and have new ones installed. In fact, old windows (1940s and older) actually have better raw materials when it comes to insulation than new ones. Modern windows use double or triple paned windows to amp up efficiency, but their aluminum, vinyl, or new wood doesn’t compare with their single paned predecessors. With a proper patch job or new caulking, you can close up leaks and holes and enjoy energy efficiency for years to come. Here’s an extra tip: Hang thick curtains that you can close during winter nights and summer days to seal in heat or air conditioning.

#3: Pools

If you move into a home that has a pool already, awesome. If you’re thinking about putting one in yourself, just know that it probably won’t add anything to your home equity. That’s because some buyers look at a pool as a big expense when it comes to the upkeep and extra homeowners insurance it costs to insure something companies see as a liability. Since pools cost tens of thousands of dollars to install and at least $75 a month to maintain, you might want to think twice unless it’s something really important to you that you can afford.

#4: Renovations

While basic kitchen updates and front door upgrades can add to your equity, extensive master suite and bathroom additions may not. Entry door replacements can add 96% of the installation and purchase price in additional equity. That means if the door costs $1,000 to buy and install, you can expect to add $960 to the value of your home—recouping most of your investment. Bathroom and master suite additions only offer around 60% of their cost in additional equity.

You should also consider the neighborhood in which you live because having the nicest house on the block won’t necessarily benefit you if the neighborhood isn’t up to par. If you’re in a starter home, top-of-the-line granite and five star kitchen might not behoove you when it comes time to sell. Just make sure to look into equity adding renovations before you go crazy so you don’t waste money on things that won’t provide a return on your investment.

#5: Landscaping

Green grass adds curb appeal, but going overboard on landscaping services will put a dent in your wallet. If you have a big piece of property and don’t want to put effort into maintaining it, plant varieties of bushes and plants that are native to your area and don’t need much upkeep. That way, you can skip paying someone to mow and trim except for maybe once a year. Plus, you’ll save on your water bill.


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