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Avoid surprise repairs: 77% of new homeowners face these unexpected costs

Homeownership and interest in buying homes are steadily on the rise. With so many new homeowners flooding the market, hippo.com conducted a survey to see how new buyers were feeling after their big purchase. The survey found that the overwhelming majority of people who had recently bought a new home didn’t feel prepared for the experience. A big reason cited was the fact that unexpected home repair costs popped up in the first year. Here are some details about what today’s new homeowners are facing with homeownership — and what they can do to improve.

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What’s important to new homebuyers today?

The economy and the housing market aren’t the only areas where things are changing rapidly. Prospective buyers today have a changing set of values that are evident in the way they approach homeownership. In response to economic changes, a bigger portion of buyers is moving away from being the traditional “couple” when buying their first house. Many are going at it by themselves and purchasing a home on their own. Others are buying houses with a friend, family member, or unmarried partner.

Another factor that’s important to homebuyers today is climate change. Prospective buyers who have never owned a home before are over 300% more likely to list climate issues as a consideration in their decision than those who have owned a home previously. Common climate issues related to home buying, like building materials used, home location, floodplain maps, and recycling availability, played a big part in these prospective buyers’ home searches.

First-time homebuyers flooded the market

Owning a home is the American dream for many people. That’s probably why, when interest rates dropped to record lows, the housing market became flooded with prospective buyers. It’s not surprising that so many homeowners are feeling a bit overwhelmed, though. Hippo surveyed over 1,000 homeowners across the nation, and 92% of respondents said that the home they bought in the last five years was the first home they ever purchased.

New homeowners report feeling unprepared

With so many buyers being new to homeownership, a big portion of people are feeling underprepared. A significant 33% of new homeowners surveyed said they were at least a little unprepared for owning a home. Half of those people said they were much more unprepared than they thought they would be when they first purchased their new home.

Baby Boomers were actually the generation that said they felt the least prepared for homeownership. In fact, almost 60% of homeowners among Boomers said they didn’t feel prepared for owning a home. This is compared to 55% of Gen X and 48% of Millennials who felt the same way.

The majority of new homeowners had unexpected home repairs

A prominent area that new homeowners feel blindsided by is home maintenance. In fact, 77% of those surveyed said they faced an unexpected home repair within the first year of owning their home: 66% of respondents said the repair was needed within six months of moving in, and almost one-third needed to repair something within the first month. About half of those repairs cost the homeowners between $1,000 and $5,000.

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New homeowners are still hopeful and eager to learn

Having to shell out so much cash unexpectedly would make anyone feel like a fish out of water. Regardless of the stress that unforeseen home repair costs brought on, though, new homeowners are generally optimistic and don’t have any regrets about their big purchase. That’s partly because new homeowners have been seeking out support. However, while there are a ton of online resources available to those looking to buy their first home, there aren’t as many for new homeowners who want to educate themselves on caring for their home.

Almost 80% of new homeowners surveyed said they wish there were more information and resources available to them about maintaining their new property. Millennials were the generation with the biggest desire for education in homeownership, with 74% saying they would like more.

Where are new homeowners getting the help they need?

Almost all those surveyed — 94% in total — said they depend on family and friends for homeownership advice. Most, 81%, said they also turn to neighbors for support, and 66% often turn to online community resources like social media groups and blogs.

When those unexpected repairs popped up, new homeowners surveyed said they turned to the professionals for the help they needed: 77% talked to their real estate agent about their issue, 74% contacted their homeowner’s insurance agent, and 91% enlisted the help of a handyman in the area.

Where homeowners want to — and can — improve

The desire to improve their skills and knowledge is a great quality in new homeowners. This drive to become self-sufficient is important when maintaining a home. The homeowners surveyed had some common areas of homeownership that they wanted to boost their knowledge about.

  • 68% — home repairs and maintenance
  • 47% — protecting their home with home security
  • 38% — financial protection and home insurance
  • 30% — finding essential household items (e.g., water shutoff valve, fuse box, etc.)
  • 29% — how to be proactive about maintaining their property’s value

Home purchases have risen in quantity, and the market has become flooded with first-time homeowners. While the heavy percentage of newbies has created an overall feeling among homeowners of being underprepared or overwhelmed, the general attitude toward improving their knowledge is optimistic and healthy. This looks to be a new generation of homebuyers that will take the bull by the horns when it comes to grabbing their piece of the American dream.

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Veronica Sparks
Veronica Sparks is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who loves writing about gardening, home décor, and DIY life. She’s…
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