One of the first–and, to some degree, one of the most difficult–decisions
that a home buyer needs to address is the choice between the purchase of
a resale home or a newly built one (either standing or custom). Since
there can be quite sizeable differences between procedures and costs,
this is a decision that should be made fairly early in the process. In
addition, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages with each
choice that should be considered before making any final decision.
Here are some specific tips to consider when making a choice between a
new home and a resale.
There definitely have been a number of changes in the last few years in the
interior architecture of homes in the U.S. and Canada. New homes, for example,
tend to have larger kitchens and family gathering areas than older homes,
which are more likely to have more–and smaller–rooms. Much of the new home
construction today features expansive kitchens flowing into–or in close
proximity to–a large Great Room or Family Room. Homes built in the 1980s and
earlier will frequently have a smaller kitchen with a separate family room, formal
living room and formal dining room.Depending on your preferences and lifestyle, one of
these layouts may be preferable to the other. Is the kitchen the focus of your
family gathering? Then bigger, of course, is better. Do you prefer to have
a “retreat” area away from household activity? An older design may be better
suited to your needs.
In general, new homes will be located further away from populaton centers than
will be older homes–which may be an advantage or disadvantage to you,
depending on your point-of-view. If this is the case in your local area, don’t
forget to factor in longer commuting times to work, shopping and services
when you make your comparisons. Although shopping, restaurants and services may
eventually reach the new area, it is possible that your job location will change.
For this reason, in some areas of the U.S. and Canada, housing trends
are actually back toward the city centers–and older homes–due to the
brutal commutes that often are involved from suburbia.
In the majority of cases, new homes will have more of the amenities that today’s
buyers have considered to be important–whirlpool tubs, skylights,
“culinary grade” kitchen appliances and the like. Although many of these amenities
can be added to existing homes, the cost can often be prohibitive. If you are
concerned with the “newest and the best,” it almost always is less expensive to build
these amenities into a new home rather than trying to retrofit an older one.
Although a new home may cost you a bit more, your expenditures for repairs and
maintenance should be far less for the first 5 or 10 years since many
components of a home (heating systems, appliances, etc.) have life spans longer
than that time frame. When you are making your comparisons, however, do
not forget the often forgotten cost considerations when purchasing a new home,
Landscaping. Although the builder may do some “starter” landscaping, it rarely
is enough and often does not last. Lawns, shrubs, plantings and labor can get
very expensive. Depending on the lot size and the level of landscaping detail,
this can often run $2000 to $10000 and more.
Decorating. When you buy an existing home, you inherit the decorating–wallpaper,
paint and the like. If it is to your liking, you will have no immediate expense.
In addition, there may be additional items (for example, window treatments
such as blinds, draperies and curtains) that may convey, saving you that cost.
Unless you buy a model home, the responsibility–and the cost–of decorating
will be yours. Again, depending on your desires for decorating, this can add from
$2000 to “the moon” to your costs!
It is best to do an analysis of your wants and needs early on to decide which
type of home is a better fit for your situation. Then, you can spend your time
concentrating on the individual areas and properties that are a good match.