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.


5 Steps to Choosing the Right Neighborhood for Your First Home

Your career is going well, you are financially stable, and you are tired of renting. Sounds like the perfect time to buy your first home. After deciding what you want in a new home and what you can afford to pay, you need to determine where you are going to buy. You might already have a good idea of the area in which you would like to live, but it’s still smart to step through the process of evaluating a few neighborhoods. Let’s step through the process of choosing the right neighborhood for your first home.

Step One: Know What You Want in a Neighborhood

What exactly are you looking for in a neighborhood? Is quiet and sleepy what you desire or is an area that is packed full of excitement more to your liking? Do you need access to public transportation? Take the time to make a list of what is important to you and your family. Be sure to get input from your spouse and to consider your children now and in the future. Be sure to prioritize your list so that you know the areas in which you can compromise and those that are not flexible. Use your list as a measurement tool when you start evaluating neighborhoods.

Step Two: Look at the Map

Pinpoint your work location on the map and decide how far you are willing to drive or ride to and from your job every day. Draw a circle around your work, using your maximum commute as the radius. The area inside of the circle is where you should begin your search. Your search area may be narrowed further by other factors like the need to live near public transportation, the interstate, extended family, or other locations that are important to you.

Step Three: Do Your Homework

Now is the time to refine your list of potential neighborhoods even further. Here are some ways you can carry on your research:

  • Ask around and get other people’s opinions on the areas. You are likely to find friends, family, and co-workers that are very familiar with the neighborhoods you are considering. If possible, talk to potential neighbors.
  • Look in your local paper for community news, and cultural events.
  • Look for local parks and entertainment facilities as well as restaurants, grocery stores, and libraries.
  • Does the area have the items on your family’s list of wants?
  • Get information on the quality of the school system as well as private or parochial schools in the area.
  • Determine if the home prices in the area will fit your target price and budget.

Step Four: Visit the Neighborhood

There is nothing as effective in determining if a neighborhood will be right for you, as actually driving through the area. Here are some things to take note of:

  • Look at the local schools. Would your children need to walk to school or ride a bus? Are the school buildings and grounds well maintained? Not planning on having children? The quality of the local school system will be a big factor in determining the local property values.
  • Visit the neighborhood at different times of the day. You will know if the streets are well lit at night or if traffic is an issue during rush hour. You will see if families and kids spend time in their yards. You will get a good idea of the curb appeal of the homes and whether or not they are being maintained properly.
  • Your first impression counts. Did you like the look and feel of the area?
  • Consider what your lifestyle in the neighborhood would look like. Will you be able to walk your dog? Will the neighborhood be quiet and relaxing or full of energy and entertainment? Your neighborhood should be able to provide you with the lifestyle that you are looking for.
  • Is the neighborhood hip? Why would you care? Young families are the ones determining the next great place to live. They will want cool coffee shops and restaurants. They will want art galleries and musical venues. They will want affordable neighborhoods that are on their way up. If your wants align with theirs, then find the neighborhoods they are moving into.

Step Five: Find your home

Once you’ve found your neighborhood, you can start your home search with the confidence of knowing that you will be happy living in the area. Now is the time to engage a real estate agent to help you with your search.  However, don’t forget to look at local homes for sale in the paper and online. Use the same amount of care in looking for your home as you put into finding the perfect neighborhood and you can’t go wrong.

Bonus Step: Engage an Expert Advisor

If you are buying your first home, you should consider seeking the assistance of an expert on the homebuying process.  Your new home is likely to be the largest investment that you ever make. A non-profit partner, like the HomeOwnership Center of Greater Dayton, will guide you every step of the way. Their experience and advice can prevent you from making common mistakes and empower you to make solid homebuying decisions.

Find out more by calling 937.853.1600 or visiting our Homebuyers page.