One of the first questions you’ll ask yourself when deciding to buy a new home is whether you should buy an existing home or a newly built one.
There are many factors to consider, and there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to both options.
It’s important to first determine all your personal preferences as well as your personal and financial situation. Here are some other factors to think about:
Many new homes are located in suburban areas where there is land available for development. If you like to live away from the hustle and bustle of major metropolitan areas, this could be an advantage. However, also consider the additional costs of living farther away, such as fuel costs.
Keep in mind your daily commute and how that may affect your personal and family life. The average commute in the U.S. is approximately 50 minutes. However, studies show that commuters are, on average, less satisfied with their lives than non-commuters.
Many new developments and subdivisions have a cookie-cutter nature. If this will bother you, buying an older existing home might be an advantage for you.
Trends, tastes, and architecture change over the years. In general, newer homes have fewer, but larger rooms, including spacious kitchens and family gathering areas such as media centers. Older homes tend to have more, but smaller, rooms, including functional kitchens with little storage and a separate, small dining room. Still, an older home may have unique architectural elements that you might find appealing. Your personal preferences and lifestyle will dictate which type of home and layout is most appealing to you.
If you want a great big kitchen that will become the hub of your family's daily activities, then a new or newer home will most likely fit your preferences. If you prefer a cozy bedroom tucked away from where the rest of the family will hang out, then an older home may better suit you.
Another factor to consider is landscaping. An older home is more likely to have a mature lawn, shrubs, and other plants and flowers. Newer homes may lack an established lawn or yard. Of course, there’s a chance that an older home's landscaping may be in need of a complete overhaul.
When building a new home, consider that you’ll likely have to wait 10 to 20 years for sapling trees to mature. You’ll may have to grow your own lawn or spend the money to lay sod. Developing a yard can be costly, so determine how much you want to spend and if it might make more financial sense to buy an existing home with a developed yard.
If you're looking for modern amenities such as whirlpool tubs, skylights, and top-of-the-line kitchen appliances, a new home will have more of the features you want. It may be cheaper for you to purchase a new home that has these features rather than try to add them to an existing home. On the other hand, if you are not overly concerned with having the newest conveniences, an old home can generally have great working appliances, although they may not be brand new.
Your personal finances will ultimately influence the decision you make just as much as your personal preferences. New construction generally has low margins, so there is little room to negotiate. Yet the average homeowner may be willing to make concessions if he or she is really motivated to move.