Why New Isn’t Always Better
There are a lot of advantages to buying a new construction home. Everything is clean and unused, the appliances and fixtures are modern. There’s no wear or tear, new homes are (usually) more energy efficient . . . the list goes on and on.
Wait, isn’t this post supposed to be about the advantages of buying an exiting home? It is! However, as a homebuilder and Realtor for many years, I’ve come to understand that there is no one path that works for everyone. And while buying new has its upside, there can be significant advantages to buying an existing home instead of a new one.
Here are a few of the most important:
1) Existing homes cost less
Simply stated, new homes cost more than comparable existing homes. Just like a new car, you’re paying a premium for being the first owner. Additionally, we’re in the midst of a strong seller’s market in Northern Virginia. Inventory is low, and homes are selling for close to full list price. So not only is the advantage with the seller, but land prices are high, and continue to rise. This lowers the margins for a new home builder, and necessitates a higher sale price. The same limitation is not present for many homeowners, many of whom have a large amount of equity and are willing to negotiate more on price.
2) You’ll save time (and peace of mind)
Building a new home takes a minimum of 6 months, and that’s using a very fast construction timetable. More likely, you’re looking at 9 months to a year. Unless the home you’re buying is already done and move-in ready, you’ll have to wait until construction is complete, final inspections have been made, and occupancy permits granted before you can move in. While this process can be smooth and seamless, issues may arise throughout the construction and inspection process that delay your move-in date. This can be stressful, especially if you’re also selling your current home.
3) The structure and surrounding landscaping of an existing home has had time to mature and become established.
I’ve yet to come across a new construction home that didn’t have a least a few issues arise within the first year or two of occupancy. It’s inevitable with such a complex system. Homes need time to settle and be lived in for a while. Living in a new home as these issues arise can be a bit of a pain. A well-maintained existing home will have had time for issues to present themselves and be addressed by the previous owner.
The same holds true for the landscaping: During new home construction, lots are flattened and graded, then left barren until the home is mostly complete. Then grass and other vegetation is planted. These new plantings need time and a lot of work to take hold and mature. One of the most attractive features of an existing home, in my opinion, is the established landscaping.
4) Buying an existing home is more eco-friendly
A large amount of material and fuel is consumed during the construction process of a new home. Even using modern Green building practices, the environmental impact of building a new home will be higher than buying an existing one. It’s simply a fact. So if you really want to go green, buy existing!
This list is, inevitably, general. Everyone’s situation is different. In my opinion, the best way to go about choosing whether to buy new or buy existing is to examine all of the factors that matter to you, and explore your options.
Like anything else in life, consulting an expert can help you examine your situation and options more clearly—and inform your choice. Buying a home is a big decision involving many moving parts. Having someone you trust to help guide you through the process will save time and money in the long run.
Lou Sagatov, Realtor®
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