New Home vs Old Home
When you’re looking to buy a new home several big decisions need to be made before you can put up the money and buy a house. These decisions range from what neighborhood you want to live in, the size of the house, the price of the house, and how you’ll sell the house when the time comes... the list goes on. But the biggest decision that we help homebuyers with is deciding whether they want to buy a new house or buy an existing property.
There are pros and cons to both buying a new house and an existing one. You have to weigh each one of them carefully during the decision-making process. This blog post is going to lay out some of the most common pros and cons that we’ve experienced between new homes and existing homes.
Before we just get into the pros and cons of buying a new home or existing home, just remember that these points are interpreted differently for each buyer. What is generally considered a “pro” for some people might be a “con” for you and vice versa. A good exercise when buying a house is to think intuitively about each of these points and apply them to your own life. Now let’s get into it!
The first thing that we want to address is pricing. It’s a common misconception that buying a new home is always more expensive than buying an older home. The truth is, that’s not necessarily the case anymore. Buying materials for a new home is now less expensive than it has been in the past. That means that you could potentially buy a brand new home for cheaper than buying an existing home. How exciting?!
What Are The Upsides of Buying an Existing Home?
Potential Higher Quality Construction: We’re not saying that new homes are made poorly or with worse construction methods. However, older homes sometimes have an attention to detail that could be harder to find when looking to buy a new home. Some people have noted that there was a sense of craftsmanship that was used when building older homes that was a point of pride for both the people working on them and the people that lived in them. When buying an older home, you too will be able to take part in that sense of unique craftsmanship.
Bigger Yards: In the past, the land was cheaper so many older homes were initially built on bigger lots which still exist today. Now don’t go looking for 5 acres of land in downtown Minneapolis and be upset when you can’t find it. The point here is that newer construction homes tend to be a part of developments that have tens to hundreds of houses and can sometimes have smaller yards. Some older homes in the suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul can have bigger yards than the newer construction homes just on the other side of the road.
Character: If you prefer a house with some character then buying an existing home might be the right choice for you. Some home buyers refuse to buy newer homes because the house doesn’t have any character yet. Buying an older home typically means that several families have lived there before you, and the house has a story that comes with it.
Established Neighborhoods: Lots of times, older homes are in neighborhoods that have been tried and true throughout the years. Chances are there might be some families in your neighborhood that have been there for decades, and wouldn't dream of living anywhere else. If you’re looking at some neighborhoods near downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul you’ll be sure to find neighborhood restaurants, parks, stores, music, etc. that is unique to your neighborhood. Oftentimes new construction neighborhoods haven’t had the opportunity to build on this sense of community yet.
More Walkability: If you buy a home in an older neighborhood, you might find that you have more walking opportunities than a newer construction neighborhood. Older homes tend to be closer to city centers as opposed to newer neighborhoods which tend to be in the suburbs where walking to the grocery store may be a several mile walks. This isn’t to say that you have to walk everywhere you go, but should you choose to carry your groceries home from the store, buying an older home near the city center might be better for you.
Downsides of Buying an Older Home
Smaller Spaces: Older homes are somewhat more likely to have more rooms, and less of an open floor concept. Not only can this take away from the actual square footage of the home, but it can make the home feel a lot smaller. In addition to that, many of the older homes that we see have smaller rooms than what we tend to see now. For example, the kitchen in an older home tends to be much smaller than the kitchen of a newly constructed home. If you’re not looking for something overwhelming, then a home with less space usually means less maintenance
Maintenance: If you’re looking to buy a home that is going to have low maintenance, it might be pretty hard to find this with an older construction home. The useful life of many household appliances tends to be between 15-25 years depending on the appliance. This could mean that you’re buying a home with older appliances that you may need to replace shortly. Older homes also typically have more structural discrepancies than newer construction homes. Everything about the house is older than a new construction home, so you might need to repair the foundation, roof, sewage, and more.
Updates: When you buy an older home, you may decide that you want to make some updates to the property. This can come with a costly price tag. A typical Kitchen renovation costs between $12,000 and upwards of $35,000. However if you like the location of the house, and the character that comes with it, updating parts of your house might be a fun project for your family, and you can essentially turn an old home into a newer one.
Upsides of Buying a New Home
Maintenance: The maintenance that comes with newer homes is typically much lower than that of an older home. When you buy a new home, almost everything about the home is brand new, which means you should have a lot less maintenance on your hands. The roof, foundation, sewage, appliances, yard, walls, windows, etc. are all new and shouldn’t need to be replaced for quite some time.
Warranty: If you buy a new construction home, you may be able to get a builder's warranty, which can help protect you against any major structural problems with the home. While these won’t cover nearly everything that could go wrong with the home, if the foundation were to suddenly go out, it’s nice to know that you could be protected.
Efficiency: Newer homes are typically more energy-efficient and can save you a lot of money in the long run on heating, cooling, and electrical. Not to mention that the worry of climate change is an increasing problem in our society, and having a house that is helping fight against these changes can provide you with a sense of peace that you’re doing your part. Some new construction homes are even coming with built-in solar panels that can help create electricity and save you money.
Downsides of Buying a New Home
Charmless: Some people say that new construction homes lack warmth, charm, or uniqueness. Sometimes new construction homes are built in neighborhoods where nearly all of the homes look the same, which can make your home feel like just another house rather than your house. This can mean that all of the yards are essentially the same size, and many of them look the same when you first move in. With time, however, these neighborhoods will begin to get more feel, and build character.
Maturity: Oftentimes new construction homes are built in neighborhoods that are brand new. This means that the trees, grass, bushes, and landscape are all going to appear relatively new. If you move into your house when the construction is still ongoing it could mean that you will be looking at a lot of dirt and construction material for the first couple of years living there.
Commute: If you work in downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul, your commute to work may be a lot longer than if you lived in an older home closer to the cities. New construction developments are oftentimes built in the suburbs farther away from the cities, which could mean that you have a longer drive to work, Twins games, and events that are downtown.
There are pros and cons of either option, and you have to find the home that works for you. Some people think they want one thing and then realize when they start searching that it’s not right for them. For example, you might think you want a charming older home, but as you begin your search and you start calculating the cost of upkeep, you realize you’re not ready for that. Look around at a bunch of different options and find what works best for you and your family.