The busy spring home buying season is here and it is off to the strongest start in more than a decade! As potential home buyers get ready for another competitive season, Brad Allen talks with Milwaukee’s WTMJ-4 about a few steps to take now, in order to save big bucks down the road.

Buying a home can be one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make. There is no magic dollar amount for how much home you can afford. It depends on several factors – including your location, income, savings and debt. Buying a home isn’t just a 20% down payment and a monthly check for the mortgage. In fact, the hidden costs that most buyers often overlook can add up to more than $9,000 each year.

1. Closing Costs – A down payment isn’t the only cash you need to buy a home. You’ll also need an additional 2-5% of the purchase price to cover closing costs. Closing costs include your loan origination fee, underwriting fees and title insurance. If you haven’t already paid your inspection or appraisal fee, you’ll likely have those included in closing costs as well.

2. Property Taxes – Adding your property taxes into your household budget is a must before you move in, but many home buyers fail to budget for yearly tax increases as well. Any additions or improvements you make—like putting in a bathroom, building a deck, or renovating a kitchen—can also affect or increase your property tax.

3. Maintenance Costs – Depending on your house’s age, homeowners should expect to spend 1-4% of a home’s value each year on maintenance and repairs. That may seem like a lot, but budgeting this way will help you save money. Some years you may spend a couple hundred dollars on paint. And other years you could be spending a few thousand on improvements like a new roof.

Click here for a mortgage calculator on CNN.