Average homeowner spends around $3.6K in unexpected costs during first year of homeownership

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The average homeowner encountered about four surprises or unexpected costs within the first year of homeownership, spending around $3,600 to address them. That’s according to a new survey of 2,000 homeowners split evenly by generation, which revealed the top expenses during that first year were appliance replacement (56%), exterior repairs such as windows (53%) and major repairs like roofing (52%). That may be why 44% of those surveyed invested more money on their home within the first year of owning it than they expected. On top of that, respondents spent two and a half years on average upgrading their home before they were pleased with it. While time and money were invested in the property, 71% of homeowners now feel like they’ve found their forever home, with the average duration of homeownership at nine years. Almost half (45%) of respondents said they were encouraged to purchase their home based on its accessible location, while other driving factors included yard size (44%), cost (42%) and curb appeal (39%). Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of TruGreen, the survey results also revealed that 75% of homeowners believe it’s important that their yard or home’s exterior looks impeccable. However, millennials might already be telling kids to get off their lawn, as younger adults care about their home’s exterior more than older generations. Gen Z (47%) and millennials (46%) were more likely to cite curb appeal – like the color of the home, decks and balconies – as a reason for homebuying than Gen X (35%) and boomers (30%). Younger generations were also more likely to purchase their home based on its architecture and style, with 46% of Gen Zers and 43% of millennials doing so, compared to 30% of Gen Xers and 23% of boomers. For most, curb appeal has perks, like making a good impression on guests and neighbors (61%) and providing a sense of pride (58%). In fact, impressions were found to matter more to millennials than Gen Xers (67% vs. 56%), and aesthetics were valued more by millennials (70%) than Gen Zers (60%). “People take great pride in their home’s appearance, and many first-time homeowners invest without realizing the amount of work and cost involved in its upkeep,” said Johanna Metz, vice president of marketing for TruGreen. “It’s essential to understand homeownership – from the buying process to the problems and surprises faced after you’ve signed on the dotted line – with a fluctuating housing market.” When prioritizing maintenance, homeowners focus on their home’s exterior, such as patios (42%), functionality like upgrading appliances (40%) and their yard or lawn (39%). For those who dare to tackle a DIY project, respondents turn to YouTube videos (42%), search engines (39%), home improvement stores (38%) and prior experience (38%) as a resource. But some things are best left to the professionals. Nearly a third of respondents would hire a professional for home maintenance, and 62% would call the pros for a home improvement project over immediate family (55%), extended family (47%) or a friend (39%). “From maintaining a green lawn and healthy trees to preventing outdoor pests, homeowners are dealing with a number of pain points this year that can be time-consuming, and sometimes require specialized knowledge,” Metz added. “However, newer homeowners may be more hesitant to ask for help — only 38% were very likely to rely on professional aid for their home’s exterior as a new homeowner. It's best to partner with a pro who can save homeowners time, so they can spend more time enjoying life, and their home.” WHICH FACTORS INFLUENCED RESPONDENTS’ PURCHASING DECISIONS WHEN BUYING THEIR CURRENT HOME? ● Location based on access - 45% ● Yard/land size - 44% ● Cost - 42% ● Curb appeal - 39% ● Pride in home ownership - 38% ● Architecture/style - 35% ● Proximity to family/friends - 35% ● Location based on climate - 34% ● Family planning - 33% ● Retirement - 27% ● Downsizing - 21% ● Upsizing - 21% Survey methodology: This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 American homeowners with a yard/lawn split evenly by generation (500 Gen Z, 500 millennials, 500 Gen X, and 500 baby boomers) was commissioned by TruGreen between March 7 and March 20, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).