Did you know that approximately 40% of Americans would prefer a new construction versus pre-loved homes? This is one of the top questions my clients always have. There’s no right or wrong answer. Each client is different and has different goals. Below are some pros and cons of buying new construction.
- Customization – If you make the purchase early enough in the building process, some builders may allow you to personalize the home according to your preferences. This means that countertops, flooring, cabinets and colors could be yours to choose. This input is not always the case, though. Work with your REALTOR® to determine how far along in the process the builder is, how much customization is available, and at what premium. However, all of these same items could be customized in a “pre-loved” home through small DIY projects or a major renovation.
- Contemporary style and design is another advantage to new construction. Today’s lifestyle leans toward the open floor plan concept. Newly built homes often have the large master baths, walk-in closets, and eat-in kitchens that busy people tend to prefer. Existing homes tend to have compartmentalized rooms with formal living and dining rooms. This is absolutely personal preference and each buyers lifestyle will dictate their room needs & flow based on how they live and use them!
- Little maintenance is necessary for new construction homes. New HVAC systems, appliances, ventilation, flooring, and plumbing means that maintenance headaches are minimized. Builders sometimes offer a warranty to cover maintenance needs for several years. This is hard to beat! You can still purchase a limited home warranty through a third party company, but the coverage will not be as inclusive as most builder warranties and will likely have a deductible component.
- Being the first person to live in a home is an advantage worth noting. Buyers like the idea of occupying a home before anyone else does. Plus, you don’t have the cooking or living odors, such as cigarette smoke or pets, that may come with previous occupants.
- Energy-efficiency and eco-friendly housing standards of the modern day help save money and the environment. Today’s building materials are more energy-efficient than ever before. Energy-saving windows, efficient HVAC systems and Energy Star appliances help save money on utility bills. This is irrefutable. Remodeling to include these items in an existing structure would be very costly.
- Today’s technology is considered in new construction homes. Homes are wired for large flat-screen televisions; alarm systems, security systems, and Internet wiring are accounted for; and cable is a given.
- Saved money, at least up front, plays a large role in the decision to purchase an existing home. A new construction home typically costs more. On average, an existing home in Lee County is $142 per sqft versus a new construction home at about $155 per sqft (Data from January – November 2021 Lee County Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service).
- Homes with history are appealing to a large number of buyers. This treasured past brings character and tradition to a home and is hard (if not impossible) to replicate.
- Neighbors — or the lack thereof — can be a real turnoff in the initial stages of home building. You may stare out at a string of construction sites rather than humans when you first move in to a new neighborhood. Living through and driving through construction can create problems from hammering noise to nails in your tires!
- Property size and space is often limited in new builds. You may be able to reach across a small swath of grass and touch your neighbor’s home, which is less than desirable for some people. Many times lot sizes in older neighborhoods are larger along with more mature landscaping and privacy.
- Time is often not on your side when purchasing a new build. In an existing home, you can generally move in within 30-45 days of signing a contract; in new construction homes, the timeline can stretch months depending upon what stage of construction you find this new build when you make the purchase decision.
Which is Better for You: an Existing House or a New One?
Sometimes a new home isn’t really better than an existing home. It will all boil down to what you really need and how it will fit your way of living. Things you should consider when choosing between a existing home and a new one should include:
- Location – A majority of buyers prefer a developed area, where you can expect the developed trees and mature landscaping that add charm. Plus you can actually see how the streetscape will be as opposed to trying to visualize a wide variety of homes that could be built on your street!
- Land – New home lots may have less land compared to existing homes. In most metro centers that’s just how it is. Land use changes to fit and meet the market trends. Not to mention that living next to a construction site can be noisy!
- Maintenance and Repair – Expect to have more home improvement projects done in an existing home. Even if you’re Mr. Handyman, be sure to hire a professional home inspector to have a full report done on the house.
- Prices and Taxes – A new home usually costs more than an existing one. But an existing home usually comes with a complete package like built-ins, landscaping, backyard, and more. If you would like to have everything done to your personal preferences, a new home may be a better fit for you. Your tax responsibility will depend on the state where you live. Existing homes usually have lower property taxes as compared with newer ones.
How Do I Decide?
At the end of the day, if you can’t decide between a new construction and a pre-loved home, write down what you love and dislike about the homes. Where do you see yourself in 5,10, or 15 years? Are you in this neighborhood? Are you selling again in 5 years? There is a lot to consider. Take your time with this huge decision and know that your REALTOR® is there to answer any questions you may have and help you make the decision that makes the most sense for you!