Study looks at annual costs of home ownership in La Crosse County

Homeowners should understnad all costs going into buying a home

Over the past several years, the housing market has been making a big comeback and many people are looking to become a first-time home buyer. However, an expert says it’s important for future homeowners to understand all of the costs that go into owning a home.

When deciding to become a homeowner, finding the perfect location can be tricky. Whether it’s in a city or a village, there are certain costs that have to be considered.

“The user charges for sanitary server, for water services, for storm services, there’s garbage collection rates in different municipalities,” said Karl Green, a community resource educator for UW-Extension.

To help first-time buyers make a financially sound decision when picking a place to live, Green looks at the costs of home ownership throughout La Crosse County.

“I looked at two cities, two villages, a rural township and an urban township.” said Green. “Because there are areas that aren’t served by either municipal water or sewer, I wanted to show that as well as areas that had everything from a full spectrum of city services to a more piecemeal approach.”

He looked at property taxes, septic systems, water systems, storm water charges and garbage costs for a home worth about $154,000.

“I think it equated to about $1,600 between the highest, which was the city of La Crosse, and the lowest, which was the village of West Salem,” said Green.

It turns out to be a difference of about $137 every month. Some would expect that number to be higher.

“There might be some hidden costs that you need to look out for,” said Cindy Gerke-Edwards, president of La Crosse Area Realtors Association. “Some municipalities even charge for trash bags and you pay so much per trash bag and the city of La Crosse includes the trash pickup within your taxes.”

Whether you’re looking at a home in the city, village or township, make sure you factor in all of the costs.

“So that they budget correctly and they don’t have surprises that ultimately could cause payments to be missed and an ultimate would be a foreclosure, in the worst case scenario,” said Green.

Green hopes that the study helps people understand the costs of owning a home based on the location because it’s an annual cost that wouldn’t go away.

Click here if you would like to take a closer look at the study.