Two Zillow subsidiaries are estimating it will cost the average U.S. homebuyer $40,000 to get in the door of their new home.  Depending on where the home is located, according to a new analysis from and Thumbtack, the number could be $26,641 (in Cleveland)  or $202,834 (San Jose.)  That headline number however is a little misleading.

The study looked at the one-time fees that homebuyers can expect as they close and move into those homes, and the largest chunk is, of course, the downpayment. In their analysis the two companies estimated the amount needed for a 15 percent downpayment on a typical U.S. home ($32,700 in July 2018) plus additional costs.

First there are closing costs, including the origination fee, appraisal, transfer taxes, title insurance, the first year of homeowners' insurance.  These add about $6,250 to the cash needed to close on a loan. Other costs are those for moving (eight hours of a moving van and movers and/or pizza and beer for friends who volunteer to help), changing the locks, mounting the television, cleaning the house and yard; figure another $1,130 on average.

But the downpayment is, of course, the big variable in this discussion. The total costs in Cleveland are the lowest because, according to Case-Shiller, that city has the lowest home prices in its 20-City Composite Index. San Jose, while not a city tracked by that composite, is generally said to have the highest home prices in the nation.  That $202,834 in upfront costs, Zillow points out, is more than typical home purchase prices in 11 of the markets they track. What is most interesting about the Zillow information is how narrow the ranges are for the other expenses.

The range for closing costs range is almost exactly $2,000 above and below the national average with one major outlier.  Closing costs in New York City average $11,232.  The differential is even smaller when it comes to moving-in costs. There is only $430 between the lowest cost - $890 in Las Vegas, to the highest in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

So, bottom line, it costs the most to move into a home that costs the most, and that is all about the downpayment. Still, the other costs may well come as an unpleasant surprise to homebuyers, especially first timers.  

"Buying a home, especially for the first time, is an exciting but stressful experience," said Justin LaJoie, General Manager. "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."

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