As much as one prepares and reads and researches, there are always surprises, I suppose. As this is our first house, we're a little low on funds for up-front costs. We thought we've been smart getting pre-qualified (totally worth it) and getting an FHA Loan with a small downpayment of 3%. We're going to ask for closing costs in the offer to save some more money too. So, when we heard we needed a couple thousand up front before we even buy the house, we were surprised. First, we need earnest money - this is a weird tradition that I'm not sure I understand, especially since it's not technically required. So that's $1,000 we weren't planning upon. We will also need an inspection, which we knew about, but were surprised at how much it will cost ($500). Then we will have to pay application fees to the bank for the mortgage (another $400). It also looks like we'll have to buy some new appliances upon moving in -- can anyone say Home Depot credit card?
So, yes, all in all - you can learn a lot from books, the Internet, and other people but there are still some cash surprises waiting for you in the end.