Should You Buy an Old Home or a New Home?

Spring is here, your lease is up soon, and you are about to begin searching for your first home. One question that has probably popped up is whether or not you should buy an old home or a new home? There are pros and cons either way. You have to ask yourself – What is important and what do you want in your home?

Let’s look at some pros and cons for a bright and shiny new home first:

New Construction Pros

  • You can get exactly what you want, especially if you work with the builder when the house is under construction. You will have the opportunity to pick out carpet, appliances, and just about every other aspect of the home’s décor and construction.
  • You are the first owner. Everything in the home will be brand new and unused. This doesn’t mean that everything in your home will be perfect. Sometimes builders and tradesmen make mistakes or perform shoddy work. However, you know the furnace, appliances, and roof are brand new and shouldn’t require maintenance or replacement anytime soon. This means the home’s maintenance costs should be cheaper.
  • Your home will be built to modern standards and using contemporary designs and styles. Your energy costs could be lower and your home will have that modern layout and appearance.
  • New homes tend to be located in planned neighborhoods. Chances are that your home will be part of a newly constructed neighborhood. You might even have common amenities like a pool or clubhouse.
  • Your neighborhood could have a homeowners association that will work to maintain the property values in the neighborhood.

New Construction Cons

  • Your home probably doesn’t have the character an older home might have. You might not have the crown molding, high ceilings, or gingerbread trim that was common in the past.
  • Your builder may have built all of the homes in the neighborhood from a small selection of floor plans. This means that you are likely to find that many of your neighbors own very similar homes.
  • You could have a homeowners association that limits what you can do with your home and your property. They may want to approve your choice of exterior paint color and will probably not allow you to permanently store your boat and broken down car in the front driveway. Home owner associations also mean paying dues, which help to make new construction generally more expensive.

Not all home buyers think alike. You might want an older home full of charm. Here are some pros and cons for existing homes (also called a resale home):

Existing Home Pros

  • You won’t have a cookie cutter design. Chances are that you will have more choice in floor plans and a smaller possibility of finding another home just like yours on the same street. Have you ever driven to a friend’s home in a new neighborhood and struggled to pick out their home because all of the houses look alike? That won’t be a problem with an older home.
  • You don’t need to worry about the hassle of going through the new construction process. This means you will have fewer decisions to make and you won’t need to face living in a neighborhood that looks like a construction zone.
  • Your neighborhood will be established.
  • You get that old home charm and character that can’t be found in a brand new home. Want a gorgeous front porch? You can find it in an older home. Want all of that fancy woodwork and those great built-ins? You can find them in older homes.

Existing Home Cons

  • Your home will require more maintenance than a new home. Older appliances and heating/cooling systems become worn out and might need to be replaced.
  • Older homes tend to be less energy efficient and you will spend more money heating and cooling them. Older appliances will also be less energy efficient.
  • The home may have a dated design. If you want to live in an open concept home, you will struggle to find it in an older home.
  • Someone else has lived there before you! If you really want to be the first one to live in the home, an older home is not for you.
  • Renovations and updates could be in your future. Is that kitchen too small? Really want a master bathroom and walk in closets? To find modern layouts in an older home, you might need to plan on spending money on remodeling.

One Important Suggestion

Get an inspection! It doesn’t matter if the home of your dreams is a 1930s bungalow or a brand new glass house. Have the home inspected before you buy it. A professional house inspector will be able to tell you if the builder has made mistakes or if the furnace will need to be replaced in the next few years. So, pay the money for a home inspection and you will be able to sleep better after closing.


Ready to Make Some Home Improvements?

May is National Home Improvement Month and chances are that you are thinking of tackling some home improvement projects all on your own. Many homeowners want to take on home projects to add value or simply make it their own.  If you are one of the growing number of American homeowners that are rolling up their sleeves, our hats are off to you. Go for it.

You can save a lot of money by putting on your DIY (Do It Yourself) hat and putting some sweat equity into your home. However, the downside is that, if you don’t know what you are doing, you could end up with less than perfect work or even cause damage to your home. So, how do you know which jobs you can do yourself and which projects are better given to someone that knows what they are doing? Here are a few questions to ask before you start swinging that sledge hammer.

Do you have the skills required to do the work?

Many jobs seem deceptively simple until you get into the project and find that you don’t know how to finish the job. When this happens, you end up needing to call in a professional to finish the job or much worse, undo the damage you caused and start all over again. If you wanted to DIY in order to save money, you might end up costing yourself a lot of extra money instead.

For example, you might feel comfortable replacing a light switch or installing a ceiling fan. However, do you have the skills needed to take on plumbing jobs?

If you don’t know where to start on a project, call in a friend or family member that knows what they are doing and get their advice. Remember those YouTube videos? They really are great for small projects.

Do you have the right tools?

Nothing makes a project go easier than having the right tool for the job. For instance, do you want to refinish those wonderful oak floors that were a big selling feature for your home? You probably don’t have a big floor sander lying around in your garage. You should plan on renting the tools and equipment that you don’t own or can’t borrow from your friends and neighbors. Be sure that you have the skills and knowledge required to safely operate the tools.

Does the job require a permit?

If the work requires that you seek a permit, this might be a big sign that you should hire a professional. Permit jobs often require inspections and advanced skills. A professional will know how to handle the permit process as well as how to complete the job safely and with the quality you want.

Do you have the time and energy?

You have the skills and knowledge you need. You have the tools required to do the job. Are your ready to finish the job?

Let’s say that you want to do a bathroom make over. You have the skills to paint walls, replace the cabinets, install a new sink, and re-tile the shower area. Great! However, are you willing to live with the mess and can you do without the bathroom for the three or four of weekends it might take you to finish the job on your own? If not, tap your pool of friends and ask them to help. Your project will go faster, and you will have a great time getting it finished.

Are there some jobs that you should never do on your own?

There sure are.

  • You don’t want to get involved with hazardous materials like asbestos or lead paint. Leave those to professionals.
  • You should never work on your home’s gas system. Call your gas company instead.
  • You should be very cautious of working on your roof.
  • If you don’t know what you are doing, don’t work with electricity.

Here are some final thoughts about DIY projects for you to consider.

DIY home improvement projects can be rewarding. You feel good about doing the job on your own. You can save money and you can make your home look and feel just the way you want. You might even be able to add value to your home. Our advice is to be honest with yourself. Don’t start projects that you are not qualified to complete safely or that you can’t do well. Otherwise, go ahead and get to work.  Flex your home improvement muscles. You just might be surprised at what you can do on your own.

Time to Tune up Your Lawn Mower

You knew it was going to happen. Warm weather, sunshine, and rain are working their magic on your lawn and the grass is growing like crazy. Whether you like it or not, you are going to have to start mowing soon.

Before you fill your lawn mower with gas and begin pulling on that handle, you should probably give the mower a tune up. It’s not that difficult, even for first timers.

  1. Safety First: Before you start to work on your lawn mower, disconnect and remove the spark plug. You won’t be able to accidentally start the mower and you will probably want to replace the spark plug anyways.
  2. Change the Oil: Tip the mower over and drain the oil into a container for later disposal. Refill the mower with the oil specified in your owner’s manual.
  3. Air Filter: Clean or replace the mower’s air filter.
  4. Sharpen the Blade: If the blade has nicks, replace the blade. A dull blade can tear the grass instead of cutting it; leading to browning of the grass.
  5. Eliminate Squeaks: Be sure to lubricate the mower’s moving parts like the wheel bearings. Your owner’s manual will show you which parts need to be lubricated.
  6. Reinstall the Spark Plug: When you are finished, replace or re-install the spark plug.

Regular maintenance of your lawn mower will ensure that the mower operates at peak performance and will last for years to come. Happy mowing!


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