Choosing between a newly-built home or a renovated home? Don’t just make lists of pros and cons. Sometimes, the heart wants what it wants – and you just fall in love with a house. Or a village, or a beach. Depending on where you live, one type may have a distinct advantage over the other. We’ve put together a short guide – hopefully, it’ll help your house search head in the right direction.
For many years it was typical for new construction to cost more than an older home, but that’s not necessarily true today. With cheaper building materials and efficient production, brand new homes can be built at affordable prices.
Renovated homes sell at premium prices if they’re close to a city center, on the water, or convenient to popular shopping or dining districts. The price of a renovated home will reflect its location and any work that’s been done to restore it. Remember – older homes are expensive to maintain, so any repairs and improvements made by the seller will save you money in the long run.
New homes that are being built as infill in older neighborhoods often command the highest prices – they offer both a great location and new construction features.
Location is probably the biggest factor in home-buying decisions. Your brand-new dream house might be miles away from your favorite neighborhood, and you have to prioritize.
Many close-to-the-city neighborhoods are experiencing a renaissance as people move in and fix up older homes. Older neighborhoods are more likely to have mature trees, sidewalks, shops you can walk to, and larger yards. And with shorter commute times, prices are going up.
If you’re looking to buy in a historic area or waterfront property, often the only homes for sale are older, renovated homes.
Source: Rick Harris
If you’re determined to have a brand new house, you’ll have to buy a home in tear-down condition and build new – keeping in mind that this will be an expensive process.
Another source of new construction in older neighborhoods are in-fill projects. Developers buy two or three old homes to tear down and build several homes that are closer together. Lot sizes are usually much smaller than surrounding homes – but they’re ideally located.
3. Floor Plans
New construction homes offer popular features like open-plan kitchens, large master bathrooms, high ceilings, and large closets. If you work with a builder from the beginning, you can choose your interior finishes like countertops, flooring, and cabinetry.
Source: The Designory
You’ll often find these features in older homes too, but even a renovated home will have its limits. Master suite additions are common in renovated houses; but not every home can be remodeled to an open plan design. If an open layout is a must-have, it may be easier to find in a new development.
Older homes may not have every modern amenity, but you’ll find traditional features like a formal dining room, a butler’s pantry, a screen porch, or library.
Consider whether these areas can be re-purposed, or opened up to improve the floor plan. If you have your heart set on a certain older neighborhood, look at every listing with an open mind. A quick meeting with an interior designer can help you figure out a home’s potential before you buy.
Source: Big Old Houses
New homes must meet modern building codes – this includes safer wiring, proper insulation, and ventilation. Some new houses are extremely energy-efficient, but every builder is different. Energy-efficient windows and improved exterior finishes dramatically reduce maintenance. Find out what construction methods are best for your climate, and check with your builder before making a final decision.
Depending on where you live, older homes that have been renovated may or may not be required to meet the newest codes. Upgraded wiring? Finished basement? Ask for specifics and get an inspection before you purchase a renovated home. Heating and cooling systems should definitely be upgraded to modern, high-efficiency equipment.
The upside of buying an older home is superior craftsmanship. Walls may be lathe and plaster; paneling and shelving might be walnut or redwood, and floors typically solid oak. Even mid-century homes are well-built with brick facades and solid wood cabinetry. Exterior features like wood siding and porches add plenty of charm, but they’ll need ongoing maintenance.
So should you buy brand new? Adopt an older home? Think about your desired lifestyle, your family’s needs, and the location that will be the best fit. After that, you just may surprise yourself.
If you need help choosing, Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty has over 70 highly agents who can guide you through the decision-making process.