New research drills down into the real cost of home ownership — and it goes well beyond just affording the monthly mortgage payment.

Attom Data Solutions has produced a white paper about how much those monthly utility bills — electric, heat and water — add to the total ownership cost. Senior V.P. Daren Blomquist says the group crunched the numbers across New Jersey's 21 counties to determine how much more paying the mortgage and utilities comes to.

"For homeowners, the average increase or additional cost is an additional 16 percent across those zip codes in New Jersey that we looked at that," he said. "That is going to be an additional piece that you are going to be paying each month."

Attom looked at more than 600 zip codes, crunching the numbers for homeowners and renters alike. The latter can expect 12 percent in additional monthly costs from utilities alone.

Although it means home ownership costs can total as much as 40 percent or more of your monthly income, Jersey is still ahead of the curve.

The national average for utilities is 25 percent.

But those costs are also a factor, even before you buy. Lenders will look at them when deciding about giving you a mortgage — "what percentage of your wages is this going to take. Of course, the primary thing that lenders are going to look at is what percentage of your wages is the mortgage going to require," Blomquist said.

"So on average, across those 21 counties the true cost of home ownership, including utility costs, is really over 40 percent of average wages to own a home."

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.

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