In a year where new constructions are on the rise, and existing homes are swept off the market as quick as they arrive, some may be left wondering, “What’s the best option for me?” While newly built homes help offset the housing shortage and the demand that follows, sometimes waiting for a home to be built, location, and other cons could prevent that route from being a suitable choice or vice versa. These are the pros and cons of buying a newly constructed home.
Inspections can cost and the majority of buyers spend $300-$500, or more, depending on the size of the house, to get one. But, they’re worth the money. Having a proper inspection can help prevent you from having to deal with the repercussions of say a leaky roof, needing to repair an HVAC system, or any other problems you may find in an aging house. And, if these problems are large and expensive enough, they can drastically change your plan on buying the home – whether it be renegotiating or backing out altogether. But, don’t rely on your newly constructed home to not need an inspection. It’s always smart to bring an inspector into your newly constructed home too as they can identify areas of concerns which your contractor may have overlooked or worked too fast on, luckily, these repairs should be covered by a builders warranty.
Unfortunately, the inventory of existing houses for sale is dwindling with many would-be sellers still reluctant to put their places on the market and have visitors tour them at all hours of the day. And even though many realty agents have switched to virtual showings, most buyers eventually want to see a house close up and in person. Home builders, on the other hand, are rushing to meet demand. At last report, construction is surging above last year’s production figures. So, with newly constructed homes, inventory isn’t an issue. You find the development you’re interested in an explore their options to see if it’s a good fit for you. You can also independently purchase land to build your home on – the world can really feel like your oyster.
Your Home’s Design
Inside the latest models, you’re likely to find larger rooms and open floor plans as opposed to the chopped up rooms found in most older existing houses. Open kitchens with islands and lots of light are the rage now, for example. Sometimes the master bedroom suite will be on the first floor, or maybe there will be two such enclaves instead of just one.
Garages, too, are usually standard fare. In most new houses, you can park not just one but two cars under roof, whereas many older places don’t have even a one-car garage. And baths are far more luxurious, with a soaking tub and separate shower, a closeted commode and perhaps even his-and-her sinks.
A new house is almost guaranteed to be more energy efficient, meaning it’s going to be less expensive to heat than an older place of comparable size. You’ll find brand new, never been used appliances that are probably Energy Star rated, and possibly even smart thermostats, door bells and other technological upgrades.
What’s more, most builders these days allow their buyers to customize their houses to one degree or another. Some will let you move walls. And the list of options and upgrades is often without limit. You can pick your flooring, cabinets, appliances, paint and any number of other features.
You’ll also get to pick your building site. Some lots may be more expensive than others, but you have the choice of a lot with a view, a wooded lot or possible even one near water. Be aware, though, that in some places, the cost of the house doesn’t include the price of the lot it will sit on.
None of this is to say existing houses don’t have advantages over newly built places. They do. For example, they’re generally less expensive. And you can haggle, not only on the price but closing costs, settlement date and what must stay with the house.
Actually, everything is negotiable when you buy a resale, right down to the dog the seller may not want to take with him. On the other hand, builders tend to balk at even discussing a lower price. They might throw in a free option or upgrade — maybe even two or three — but that’s about it. For the most part, their prices as firm.
Location, Location, Location
Existing houses are often in more desirable locations, too. Closer-in neighborhoods that, more often than not, are mature, much more so than new home projects. The landscape around the immediate house, its neighbors and up and down the street is likely to be full grown, with a spreading canopy of tree tops with swaths of colorful flowers and shrubs dotting the area.
Furthermore, the dynamics of the neighborhood are usually established. Many of the residents are long-termers who probably have been there for years. And you can tell how well they’ve flourished by how well – or perhaps more importantly, how poorly – they’ve kept up their properties.
You won’t know what you’re going to get in a brand new subdivision. Your neighbors could be great, and usually are. Most ne’er-do-wells don’t buy new homes. But you never know; your neighbor could turn out to be a deadbeat, a malcontent or just someone with whom you’d rather not associate. You can choose your house but you can’t choose your neighbor.
Charm and Character
Older homes also tend to have more character,and some people just prefer to live in a home that has that worn-in feel. There’s also the added benefit of buying a fixer-upper, homes that are existing but just need a little more TLC than a typical property.
You are probably not going to get lush landscaping with a new home that you would with an existing one. But at least you can plant what you want once you move in to make it your own. And unlike years past, when builders tended to clear-cut wide swaths of the earth and then replant an immature tree or two and a few shrubs once the house was finished, most builders these days are going out of their way to save trees and other plantings.
Is Proximity Important?
New construction usually takes place further out into the suburbs. You might be able to find an in-fill property here and there. But for the most part, a new home usually means a longer commute to work. It also means you might have to wait for shopping, schools, libraries, firehouses and other key pieces of infrastructure to be built. Those things usually come after there are enough homes and people to support them.
It’s also highly likely that you’re going to have to deal with on-going construction noise and traffic until the property is built out. That could range from hammering and bulldozing outside your bedroom window in the early hours of the morning as the house next door takes shape.