Is it better to buy an old home or a new home?
This is an important question you’ll have to face when shopping for a home. The answer for each home buyer is different–there is no one size fits all answer. There are, however, pros and cons to each purchase, which we’ll take the time to discuss.
Here’s what to keep in mind when deciding if an old or new home is right for you.
Buying a New Home
Benefits of Buying a New Home
If you’re going all-in and building a custom-built home, you’ll be able to work with your builder to create a floor plan fit for your lifestyle. Even when NOT a custom-built, most major builders still allow for some changes or customization, depending on when you start the process. However, even if you purchase a pre-built new construction home, the layout will likely be more modern and open.
Custom building a home gives you the opportunity to make the entire house what you want it to be–customization and design possibilities are endless (within budget, of course). Some major builders limit the number of upgrades and depending on where they are in the construction process, some upgrade choices have already been determined.
Even if you don’t go in the custom-built direction, there are typically upgrade options and a selection of different features available which allow you to add your own personal touch. Pre-built new construction homes also have upgrades already chosen usually.
Ask your Realtor ® to contact the builder before construction is completed if this is something you’re interested in.
New Homes shouldn’t have many (if any) issues or maintenance needs. You’ll have a new water heater, HVAC system, pipes, and roof, this should mean you don’t have any major repairs for a long time. Additionally, most new construction warranties cover roof, structural and foundation issues for at least ten years.
Today’s new homes are stacked with energy efficient appliances and home systems. Not to mention they’re well insulated and have newly installed windows that seal up the entire home. An energy efficient home will make heating and cooling it less expensive–lower utility bills are always a plus.
Disadvantages of Buying a New Home
Custom-built homes can be more expensive because of all the personal touches and upgrades. However, many major builders do offer a variety of floorplans though, so don’t rule out New Construction just because your budget is tight.
For comparison, the median price for an existing home was $240,500 in January of 2018, whereas the median price for a custom-built home was $335,400 in December of 2017 according to U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Location and Construction
Many new construction developments and neighborhoods are situated away from major destinations like schools and shopping centers. You’ll also have to keep in mind when moving into a new community early on, that the neighborhood might still be under construction. It will take time for an established community free of bulldozers and construction workers to come about–but it may be worth it.
More Modern but Less “Charm”
New homes are usually built with a modern look (clean lines and open spaces). This look often has less architectural detail and charm that older homes and neighborhoods possess. It just depends what you’re looking for–if it’s character charm and “mature” trees, an existing home may be the way to go!
Buying an Existing Home
Advantages of Buying an Old Home
Old homes typically have more budget options. As stated earlier, the cost of an existing home can be lower than the cost of a new home–sometimes around 20 to 30 percent lower. This depends on the condition and location of the home, but a new house of the same size and in the same area will generally cost more than an older one.
Availability and Furnishings
There’s no chance for a delay in building schedule when you buy a home that already exists. You can move in immediately after closing. Some previous owners will even sell their furniture or accessories to the new owner. Talk about move-in ready.
Existing homes are usually located in established town centers and mature neighborhoods. These homes may have larger properties, neighboring residents, and full-grown greenery; as well as better access to schools, shopping, amenities, and attractions.
Disadvantages of Buying an Old Home
Outdated buildings and maintenance
When you buy an existing home you assume the risk that it’s not up to date in building code compliance, in maintenan, e and many other ways.
Don’t be surprised if the heating and air conditioning system needs to be repaired or replaced; if the plumbing and electrical systems require some attention (for efficiency and safety reasons); or if the roof needs work. Repairs, maintenance, and replacements can be more expensive and may happen more frequently than with an older home.
Not all old homes will have issues, but it’s still a good idea to have a home inspection done before buying.
Less Energy Efficient
Outdated appliances, home systems, insulation, and windows are typically going to be less energy efficient in older homes than those you'll find in new homes. This means utilities will be more costly to operate.
Existing homes often have different layouts than newer homes and may not be in line with modern styles or preferences. The layouts are generally more choppy versus the popular open floor plan. Kitchens, bathrooms, and closets may be smaller as well. The layout of an old home can usually be renovated, but it can be expensive to do so.
As you can see, there are plenty of advantages and disadvantages to buying new or existing. Work with your Realtor® to do your research and weigh your options!
Whether it’s a new home or an older home you’re looking for, we’d be happy to help you find the best one for you. Download our Homebuyer’s 101 Guide To The Questions Your Realtor Will Ask You to narrow down exactly what you need (and want) in your next home. If it’s a home with character in an established neighborhood, tell us! If its a custom built home in a brand new development, we want to know!