Buy New or Existing

Should you buy a NEW home or an EXISTING home?
It’s a matter of personal taste.

There long has been a debate among home buyers about whether it’s best to purchase a new home or an existing one. New home builders will say that new homes are the only way to go. Existing homeowners will say that existing homes are the only way to go. Each has its advantages. In the end, it’s often a matter of personal taste. Some buyers like the idea of starting out fresh in a home where everything is brand new. Others like the sense of history that only comes with the passage of time.

New-home builders rarely recreate the character of established neighborhoods, with mature trees and landscaping. In many older neighborhoods the homes are dissimilar, giving residents their own sense of identity. In contrast, buyers in new subdivisions often have only a few designs to choose from.

The location you choose may affect the age of your home. Older single-family homes generally are located near city centers. If you want to avoid a lengthy commute, may find yourself drawn to existing houses. If high- and mid-rise living is your style, many urban centers have undergone redevelopment in recent years. You may be able to find a new attached home in the center of a bustling downtown.

Historically, new homes have cost more than comparable existing homes because of rising land costs. Stephen Melman, director of economic services for the National Association of Home Builders, says that is changing. “I think the gap has closed considerably,” he said. “There is an enormous amount of pressure on builders to keep their prices competitive.”

In many new subdivisions and attached-home complexes, buyers must pay homeowner association fees. Associations are created to provide services, such as landscaping and street maintenance, and enforce regulations governing community activities. On the plus side, communities governed by associations may have amenities that older neighborhoods lack, such as clubhouses, playgrounds and swimming pools.

It’s a tradeoff
While the residents of older neighborhoods may avoid homeowner association dues, they often face higher maintenance costs. As homes age, plumbing deteriorates, fences fall over and roofs begin to leak. Newer homes may have less character, but they generally need less upkeep and carry warranties against defective materials. Because of higher building standards, new homes are more resistant to earthquakes and are better able to survive wildfires. They also may have lower energy bills because of their use of energy-efficient windows and better insulation.

When you buy new home, you don’t have to live with someone else’s choices. You get to pick your own color schemes and appliances. However, those who favor existing homes often praise their architectural style. For example, craftsman homes from the early 20th century have exposed beams, large welcoming front porches and built-in cabinetry. Victorian homes, with their decorative appointments, high ceilings and stained glass, strike many buyers as more elegant than contemporary designs.

I’ve sold both new and existing homes for many years now and believe when shopping for a home it’s best to keep an open mind. A home’s age isn’t as important as its quality. I’ve seen new homes where the quality was absolutly terrible, and existing homes that were maintained immaculately. You never know where you will find the right combination of value and the amenities you seek so it’s best to keep an open mind. When you’re ready to start touring Boise area homes, please contact me.