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.