New Construction vs Existing Homes: The Pros and Cons of Both

In today’s hot housing market buyers will likely consider every home that is available. Each home is unique, and each one has its own charms. However, resale and newly built homes have their advantages and disadvantages. When deciding whether to build a new home or keep an existing one, there are some things you should consider.

Benefits of new construction

Modern and customizable floor plans

If you choose to build your home from scratch, you will work with the contractor on a layout that suits you and your lifestyle. Are you looking for a remote office? They can build it. You can buy new construction that has been completed. The layout will likely be modern and open with large-open floor plans. New construction homes have more natural light and larger rooms, especially in bedrooms and bathrooms.

Personalized finishes

Even if you don’t get a customized home, you might be able to upgrade the finishes with builder-grade materials if your builder contacts you before construction is complete. Although it may be more expensive, adding your personal touches to your home may be worth it.

Energy efficiency

New “smart” appliances and home systems are more energy efficient. The result is a more comfortable home that is easier to heat and cool than older homes. This results in lower utility bills.

Smart and healthy

“Smart” technology options let you automate internet, cable and speakers, as well as an alarm system. New homes are often equipped with low- or zero-VOC (volatile Organic compound) paints and other building materials. This improves indoor air quality.

Lower maintenance

A newly built home requires less maintenance because everything, from appliances to the HVAC system and roof, are new. This allows you to predict monthly homeownership costs better, as you’ll likely spend less on maintaining your home.

Builder warranties

Many new homes come with warranties that will protect your home for many years before you have to make major repairs.

New home communities

Buying new construction often means purchasing a lifestyle. Master planned communities often have amenities such as parks, pools, and community spaces. These amenities are easily accessible from schools and public transit. Finding a builder that cares about your interests is key.

Caters to buyers who value flexibility

If you don’t need to move immediately, the time it takes to complete a new construction project can give you some breathing space. If you are interested in a house that is still being built or in its early stages of construction, you can make an offer and then move in when it is ready. You may not have the same timeline as everyone else, so you might have less competition if you are flexible with your moving schedule.

The flip side

Potentially higher costs

New construction is generally more expensive than a resale house. For instance, the median sales price of an existing home in the U.S. rose to nearly $391,200 in April 2022, while the median price of a brand new home topped $450,600 that same month — a difference of nearly $60,000.

Possibly longer commute

Detached single-family homes are often built outside of urban areas. Although bare land is more common, commute times to work, grocery stores, and other retail outlets may be longer. Rural and suburban areas may offer fewer options for entertainment, culture, and dining than urban areas. You may find apartments, townhomes and single-family homes in urban areas that are closer to cultural hubs.

Lack of mature landscaping

New landscaping takes many years to grow. It can be difficult to landscape around a new subdivision home. The earth has been removed to make way for homes and yards. This can leave the property feeling bare and unnatural. However, landscaping features and plants will bring life to it.

More waiting and risk of delays

If you are looking at completed new homes, this is not a problem. It may take longer to move into a new home if you are building a custom home, or signing up for a home in the construction phase. You’ll need to plan for possible delays ..

Benefits of existing homes

Move in-ready

It’s less likely you’ll have surprises that delay your move-in date once you close. Unless you plan to fix up the house or do extensive remodeling before you move in, you can move in as soon as you get the keys.

Established neighborhood

One of the delights of a well-established neighborhood is the maturity and landscaping, not just along the streets but also in the yards of your neighbors.

Lower-priced options

Existing homes are generally less expensive than new construction. A Zillow analysis shows that the median sales price of an existing US home in the fall of 2021 was $354,000 versus $400,000 for a brand new home. These differences will likely continue to exist due to inflation and material shortages.

More location choices

Most new, detached single-family homes are built in rural areas. You have more options when it is time to move.

Fewer decisions

Building your custom home requires a lot of decision-making. This includes everything from the floorplan to exterior and interior finishes and materials. You can focus on the areas that need to be remodeled or customized to suit your personal style.

Architectural details and history

Older homes are more likely to have architectural details that are difficult and expensive to replicate. Sometimes, they have amazing stories behind them that you can be a part of when you move into them.

The flip side

Outdated floor plans

Modern floor plans are unlikely to be found in a home that has been extensively renovated. Older homes may have kitchens and bedrooms that were not designed for the type of space you are looking for.

Outdated technology and fixtures

Old homes can be extremely outdated when it comes to technology, some even having knob and tube wiring dating from the first half of the 20th century. It is possible to upgrade wiring and add smart technology to replace outdated thermostats and lighting. However, it is more expensive to do it later than to put it in when the home is being constructed.

Energy inefficient

Older homes can be poorly insulated, and rely on oil for heat.

Potential for more repairs and maintenance

Unexpected repairs of older appliances, roofing, and heating systems can lead to you spending money you didn’t anticipate.

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