Should I Buy a New or Used House?

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When you are getting ready to hunt for your next home, you will have a wide open market full of options to live in different neighborhoods, building types, and home styles. If you are looking to move into a single family house, you may have options to move into either a new construction property or an existing home. There are big advantages, and drawbacks, to either decision.

Pros for New Homes

You know that feeling when you put on a new pair of socks for the first time, or a new shirt? Or maybe, a few times in your life, you have driven away from the dealership in a brand new car. Imagine doing that with a house.

New homes have the most modern, up-to-date building codes and standards and bring you a little touch of luxury that an older home can’t without a major remodel.

Whether you are looking for a fully wired home for fast internet and smart appliances, the best insulation and sound proofing for environment and cost savings, or you just want to know that you are the first person walking barefoot through the carpet, you can find all of that with a new home.

With new homes, you get that new home smell and will likely have less regular maintenance than with and older home, as the older a home gets, the more is needed to keep everything up and running.

In the long run, a newer home will also hold a higher resale value than an older one. With newer amenities and technologies, new homes can be in higher demand and command a higher price.

Cons for New Homes

While it is nice to be the first to use everything in a new home, there is a big downside. Things break. Foundations can move, plumbing can leak, wires can come loose, and other unexpected problems happen. For this, you can and should buy a new home warranty. While that will protect you financially, you will still have to deal with the time and hassles of fixing anything that goes wrong.

Initial resale value can also be a problem with new homes, especially if you’ve bought one of the first houses built in a new subdivision.  As long as your neighborhood has new-construction properties to compete with, those new construction properties set the pricing standards for the neighborhood.  Why pay more for a recently built, used house when you can buy a new one.  So if you’re planning to buy a new-construction home, you’d better either plan to stay in it for 5-7 years, or buy a home in a new-construction neighborhood that’s almost fully built.

Another problem with buying new-construction, especially in a new development on the outskirts of town, is amenities.  You may have to drive farther to get to amenities such as gas, banking, groceries, etc. until your neighborhood builds up a large enough population to entice businesses to move into your neighborhood.

More important, however, is the cost. A new home, like a new car, costs more than a used one. Being the first person in a house you can choose extras and upgrades, but you are really paying for everything. When you are in an existing development, you may be paying more for your new house than other nearby homes that have existed for a few years, or a few decades.

Pros for Used Homes

The best part of finding an existing home is finding an existing community and area. Historic homes are often located near existing schools with experienced teachers, restaurants and shops are already there for the neighborhood’s residents, and you will have more neighbors nearby.

Used homes also have a lower cost, as we discussed above, and don’t have as many surprises from the new construction. The possibility a foundation will shift is much lower in a house that has existed for a long time than a new one.

Cons for Used Homes

Existing homes have some problems that can’t be avoided. First, the building was likely built during a time with fewer housing codes. Your may have an old heating system, inefficient plumbing, an electrical system incapable of handling large current-drawing appliances, or if it was built before 1978, your house may contain lead-based paint. You probably have old, thin windows and aging insulation. Old chimneys may need cleaning or reinforcement. Scary things happen with older homes.

Newer homes are built with storage and stuff in mind, but older homes were not. I once lived in a 50-year old house with very little closet space and small bedrooms. Newer houses add shelving, closets, and cabinets that appeal to younger buyers and new families.

And, at the root of the problem, you may even run into tree roots. My parents had a tree root grow right through their main sewage pipe connecting the home’s outgoing waste to the local sewer system. It was a bit of a messy problem to run into, if you know what I mean.

What’s Right for You?

When deciding on a home, you have to factor in everything. Look at the neighborhood, the location, and the house itself before deciding. Be sure to ask the right questions, do your research, and find the best agent to help you find your dream home today.

If you are buying or selling a house and are looking to hire a successful real estate agent to help you through the process, take a look at AgentHarvest's list of top-ranking local Realtors in your area. We found these agents by examining their sales track records, awards, rankings, client testimonials and by conducting personal interviews.