Study: Buyers pay an average of $40K to buy, close, move

A home can easily be one of the most expensive purchases a person will make, and anyone looking to buy a residence needs to have a substantial amount of money saved up. It can also be easy to overlook associated costs, such as repairs that need to be completed before the house is habitable.

A recent analysis by RealEstate.com, a brand of the real estate site Zillow, finds that the typical homebuyer spends just over $40,000 in one-time costs when purchasing a property. This figure includes the down payment, closing costs, and moving expenses. Thumbtack, a home services resource, also contributed to the analysis.

Zillow determined that the median purchase price for a home in the United States in July was $218,000, and that homeowners typically make a down payment of 15 percent. This would amount to $32,700 on a median priced home. The analysis added another $6,246 for average closing costs and $1,134 for typical moving costs, resulting in a final tally of $40,080.

"Buying a home, especially for the first time, is an exciting but stressful experience," said Justin LaJoie, general manager of RealEstate.com. "Some of that stress can be eased by making sure you know all of the costs that come with buying and owning a home, so you can budget appropriately and not get caught off guard well into the buying process."

Not surprisingly, the highest one-time expenses were on the West Cost, which has experienced skyrocketing home prices in recent years. The typical buyer in San Jose, Calif., spends an average of $202,834 on a home purchase – more than the median home price in 11 of the 33 major metropolitan areas included in the report. This figure includes a down payment of $193,890 on a median priced home of $1.29 million, $7,674 in closing costs, and $1,270 in moving expenses.

Other markets with high one-time purchase costs included San Francisco ($152,059), Los Angeles ($105,259), and San Diego ($96,439).

The metro area with the cheapest one-time costs to buy a home was Cleveland, which had a figure of $26,641. This included a down payment of $21,225 on a median priced home of $141,500, $4,286 in closing costs, and $1,130 in moving expenses.

Detroit was close behind with average one-time purchase costs of $28,921. Other metro areas with minimal costs to buy a home included Cincinnati ($29,689), St. Louis ($31,085), and Columbus, Ohio ($32,736).

"It's imperative first-time homebuyers do their research around unexpected homeownership costs, including projects that help them prepare for the big move," said Luca Puente, lead economist at Thumbtack. "While there may be some initial sticker shock, these projects can help get a house move-in ready."

Closing costs ranged from a high of $11,232 in New York City and a low of $4,259 in Cincinnati. Moving costs had less variation, with Minneapolis-St. Paul having the highest cost at $1,320 and Las Vegas having the lowest cost at $890.

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