Cost Structure Differs When Living in a house.(FRIDAY HOME GUIDE)(CLICKS &Amp; MORTAR)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 20, 2002 | Go to article overview

Cost Structure Differs When Living in a house.(FRIDAY HOME GUIDE)(CLICKS &Amp; MORTAR)


Byline: M. Anthony Carr, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Can you afford to buy a home? The first person you'll want to talk with about your qualification will obviously be a lender or real estate agent. Once you find out your buying power, then you need to calculate what new expenses you'll have once you move out of the apartment and into your first home.

Depending on your personal tastes and requirements, you could put out thousands of dollars more per year that you don't spend now in your rental. Some of your monthly charges will head upward and some down.

If you're in a condominium, for instance, your condo fee will now be spread over several service providers instead of through one middle man (your condo association). Whereas all your trash, snow removal, water and some utilities may have been included in your monthly fee, now you'll have to track those expenses separately and pay for them.

Here are some expenses you need to watch out for:

UTILITIES: The Energy Department (www.Energy.gov) reports that the average household spent $1,338 for energy in 1997 (the last time those numbers were tabulated). Total annual energy expenditures per household were highest in the Northeast ($1,644) and lowest in the West ($1,014).

Electricity accounted for 35 percent of all the energy consumed in U.S. households in 1997, compared to 23 percent in 1978.

For gas users, your average annual expense should have increased by nearly 35 percent by 2001. The average gas household paid out $568 in 1997 and would have paid $765 at 2001 prices, according to Energy Department estimates.

These two expenses will obviously increase according to your personal usage. They will definitely jump if your move is from a two-bedroom condo to a three-bedroom, two-bath, single-family home. When I moved from my all-electric condo a few years back to an all-electric single-family house, my bill went up about $100 per month ($200 more for high-energy use periods).

The phone is part of the utilities bill and that must be included in your tabulation of expenses, but it shouldn't increase the same way as the other utilities. More than likely, if you're using the same telephone services in the single-family as you did in the condo, your charges should be the same if you stay with the same phone company.

Nevertheless, in researching this column, I did find some interesting charges accompanied on the phone bill that aremore the government's faultthan the all-powerfultelephone conglomerates.

WRC (Channel 4), the Washington-area NBC affiliate, looked over the phone bill issue and did a great job explaining how all the little charges add up. The following information is from a report aired on WRC and covers charges by Verizon to subscribers in the metropolitan Washington area. Your local charges might differ.

Calls to Verizon, long-distance companies and the Federal Communications Commission provided this information.

* The federal subscriber line charge. It costs $4 per month to cover the cost of running phone lines to your house and connecting you to the rest of the world.

* Telecommunications Relay Service, also called the Telecommunications Access of Maryland Fee or the Relay Center Surcharge, depending on where you live. This helps pay the cost of phone service for folks with hearing and speech disabilities. …

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