buying a new house

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NEW YORK — The average homeowner encounters 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. The poll reveals the top expenses during that first year are appliance replacement (56%), exterior repairs such as windows (53%), and major repairs like roofing (52%).

That may be why 44 percent 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 an average of two and a half years upgrading their home before they were finally pleased with it. Now, 71 percent feel like they’ve found their forever home, with respondents spending roughly nine years in that home.

Almost half the poll (45%) 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%).

It’s all about looks for younger homeowners

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of TruGreen, the survey results also revealed that 75 percent of homeowners believe it’s important that their yard or home’s exterior looks impeccable. 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 buying 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 percent of Gen Zers and 43 percent of millennials doing so, compared to 30 percent of Gen Xers and 23 percent of boomers.

For most, curb appeal has its 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,” says Johanna Metz, vice president of marketing for TruGreen, in a statement. “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.”

homeowners expenses

Leave it to the pros

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.

However, some things are best left to the professionals. Nearly a third of respondents would hire a professional for home maintenance, and 62 percent 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 adds. “However, newer homeowners may be more hesitant to ask for help — only 38 percent 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.”

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).

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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