How to budget realistically for home repairs

Compass tool and safety helmet on architectural drawing plan of house project, blueprint rolls on working table, Architecture and building construction industry concepts housing tile - stock photo / Getty Images

If you're a homeowner and haven't faced a big repair bill yet, just wait. Even in the best-maintained homes, stuff will wear out or break.

Budgeting for these inevitable bills isn't always easy. One commonly cited rule of thumb - to save 1% to 4% of your home's value each year for maintenance and repairs - can give homeowners sticker shock as real estate prices soar.

Accredited financial counselor Kate Mielitz recently purchased a home in Olympia, Washington, where the median listing price is $540,000, according to Realtor.com. Saving even 1% of that, or $5,400, would be a stretch for many owners, says Mielitz, who advises low- to middle-income clients. Saving 4% would mean putting aside $21,600 a year.

"I want to cry just looking at that number," Mielitz says.

Home