PART ONE: BUYING A NEW HOME VS AN OLDER HOME
You have been pre-qualified to purchase your first home, and none too soon. You are outgrowing that apartment. You have a dog, a cat, a toddler, and a baby on the way. But you are still just starting out and the amount you have been pre-qualified for is not going to get you all the amenities you want and need in a newly built home. Right? Should you consider buying an older home? Well, it depends…
There are some advantages to purchasing a new home. For instance, you can expect to have very little maintenance on some major items like the roof, the HVAC, etc. Newer homes may be more energy efficient with more insulation, newer windows and doors, and new energy-efficient appliances. You may find that the floor plans are more conducive to today’s modern family life with exercise/media/bonus rooms, open floor plans, etc. Newer homes usually come with a builder’s warranty – most reputable builders will offer that. You may find that newer homes are less expensive than an older home – lots are smaller, the footprint of the home may be smaller, and if it is not a custom home, the materials and finishes may not be as expensive as those in a home that is older. As they say, “They don’t build ‘em like they used to.”
There are also disadvantages to purchasing a new home. Some newer homes are built very close together and you have a small yard with very little privacy. These homes may look very similar or identical to each other and you feel like they have no individual character. With lot sizes being smaller so builders can get more homes in the neighborhood, you may find very few homes with a single-story floorplan. There may not be an established lawn, trees or landscaping which makes you feel like you are living in a dirt desert. Newer homes in newer neighborhoods may be built close to newer shopping centers and grocery stores, but away from thriving downtown locations and work. Builders may be slow to answer your repair requests.
Here are the advantages to purchasing an older home. Older homes have been around for awhile and have withstood the test of time. They were built carefully with quality materials and by people who were known for their attention to detail. They have “good bones”. Most older homes are on larger lots, giving you room to expand and spread out. Older homes have their own personalities. The neighborhoods tend to be more established and the neighbors know each other. Older homes have mature, established lawns and landscaping. Older homes are closer to vibrant downtown areas. You may find that you can get an older home for less per square foot than a newer home.
The disadvantages of purchasing an older home. There are maintenance concerns that you must deal with sooner than on a newer home. If you must replace some systems like electrical, plumbing, HVAC, you may find that it is more involved and expensive than you were anticipating. The spaces in older homes do not tend to be open. You may find smaller rooms, closets, and storage areas. You may have to remodel kitchens and bathrooms. Older, more classic homes may cost more because they are in prime locations. They could be more expensive than a newer tract home.
Overall, you need to decide what it is that you want. Do you want a large home and yard? Are you willing to sacrifice modern floorplans and amenities for that space? Are you willing to trade the character of a home for a modern tract home?
In the following two parts of this series we will explore purchasing a fixer-upper and we will explore modular and manufactured homes as possible low-cost housing.
If you have questions about purchasing new homes, older homes, fixer-uppers, manufactured homes or modular homes, please give me a call.
Belinda Faulkner, Broker
Moorefield Real Estate