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U.S. Homeowners Can Spend More Than $9,000 Per Year in Hidden Homeownership Costs and Maintenance Expenses

Homeowners in Boston pay highest unavoidable costs like insurance and utilities; San Francisco homeowners pay most to outsource home maintenance, according to Zillow and Thumbtack study

Jun 17, 2015

SEATTLE and SAN FRANCISCO, June 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Homeowners say the most stressful part about owning a home is the extra or hidden costsi. That may be because U.S. homeowners can pay more than $9,000 in hidden and home maintenance costs every year, according to a new analysis by Zillow®, the leading real estate marketplace on mobile and web, and Thumbtack, a marketplace for connecting consumers with service professionals.

To help first-time buyers better plan for the expenses associated with homeownership, Zillow and Thumbtack calculated several unavoidable, hidden costs like property taxes and insurance, as well as five common outsourced maintenance costs, like yard care and carpet cleaning, for the nation and across 15 metros. 

Nationally, homeowners pay an average $6,042 per year in unavoidable hidden costs, which include homeowners insurance, property taxes and utilitiesii. Homeowners in the Boston metro can expect to pay $9,413 annually – the highest in the markets analyzed – primarily due to high property taxes. Compare that to Phoenix, where homeowners pay an average $4,513 for these same costs.

And while DIY is often the preference of many homeowners when it comes to cleaning their home or doing yardwork, those who choose to outsource find equally variable costs across the regions. Users on Thumbtack often request help for house cleaning, yard care, gutter cleaning, carpet cleaning, and pressure washing. These tasks add up to an average $3,435 per year on a national leveliii. In San Francisco, homeowners will pay closer to $4,653 per year – the highest in the metros analyzed –compared to Denver homeowners who pay around $2,782 for the same projects.

"Home buyers too often fixate on the sticker price or monthly mortgage payment on a house, and don't budget for the other expenses associated with ownership – which can add up quickly," says Amy Bohutinsky, Zillow chief marketing officer. "For example, new buyers can get really excited about having a backyard of their own for the first time, without budgeting for how they plan to maintain that space."

For buyers who may be relocating to a different area of the country, the difference in hidden and home maintenance costs are important to consider when budgeting. For example, median home values in Phoenix and Philadelphia are fairly comparable at $201,800 and $200,500, respectively. However, buyers in Philadelphia could spend an additional $3,648 every year to cover the same hidden, unavoidable costs as a homeowner in Phoenix, and an extra $755 per year in maintenance costs.

"Maintaining a home is time consuming and costly, and in some regions hiring help gets you more bang for your buck than in others," says Jon Lieber, Thumbtack chief economist. "As we know, this winter was especially harsh in some parts of the country, and in the aftermath, homeowners can face a lot of unexpected expenses to keep their home in top condition. It's imperative for buyers to consider these inherent maintenance costs when budgeting for their big purchase."

Metro Area

Median Home Value, April 2015

Annual Hidden Unavoidable


Annual Optional  Maintenance Costs

Total Annual Hidden & Maintenance Costs






Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA





Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH





Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC





Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI





Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO





Las Vegas-Paradise, NV





Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA





Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI





Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL





Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD





Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ





Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA





San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA





San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA





Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA





About Zillow

Zillow® is the leading real estate and rental marketplace dedicated to empowering consumers with data, inspiration and knowledge around the place they call home, and connecting them with the best local professionals who can help. Zillow serves the full lifecycle of owning and living in a home: buying, selling, renting, financing, remodeling and more. In addition to®, Zillow operates the most popular suite of mobile real estate apps, with more than two dozen apps across all major platforms. Launched in 2006, Zillow is owned and operated by Zillow Group (NASDAQ: Z), and headquartered in Seattle.

Zillow and are registered trademarks of Zillow, Inc.

About Thumbtack

Thumbtack is a consumer service that helps millions of people accomplish the personal projects that are central to their lives. Launched in December 2009 and headquartered in San Francisco, Thumbtack introduces customers to experienced professionals who are available, interested and qualified to meet their specific needs. Whether looking for a painter for their home, a math tutor for their child, or a DJ for their wedding, Thumbtack provides anyone in the U.S. with an easy and dependable way to get started, compare options, and hire with confidence. Thumbtack helps customers with 5+ million projects per year by introducing them to available and qualified professionals within hours. With service professionals representing more than 950 categories and operating in all 50 U.S. states, the company currently has more than 150,000 paying professionals available for customers. Thumbtack has raised a total of $150 million from Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global Management, Javelin Venture Partners, and Google Capital.

i Based on results from the and Zillow 2015 Moving Survey which captured responses from approximately 1,300 parents in the United States during the months of March and April 2015 as well as approximately 3,600 real estate agents in the United States during the month of March 2015.
ii Unavoidable, hidden homeownership expenses included 3 variables: (1) Median annual property tax data for single-family homes from 2013. Source: Zillow (2) Annual 2015 state-level homeownership insurance. Source: Value Penguin (3) Annualized metro-level utilities data, which specifically accounted for electricity, phone, TV, internet and natural gas. Source: The WhiteFence Index (   
iii Thumbtack looked at tens of thousands of bids from professionals around the country and determined the average cost for each expense (for a ~2,500 sq. ft. home) within the selected metros. For the purposes of this analysis, house cleaning, yard care, gutter cleaning, carpet cleaning, and pressure washing were identified as five of the most popular home maintenance-related requests by Thumbtack users.




For further information: Media Contacts: Alexa Fiander, Zillow, 206-757-2701 or; Michele Husak, Thumbtack, 650-291-9911 or