You've finally arrived at the decision to buy a home. Now you face the choice between buying a newly-constructed or an existing home.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each option, so the decision may not be an easy one. No matter which way you go, you'll probably end up making a few tradeoffs. In the end, choose the type of home that makes the most sense for you, your lifestyle and your upcoming plans.
You will sell someday
From an investment standpoint, it's wise to think about the future when you're buying. After all, you'll be the seller one day and you want to get the largest possible return on your investment.
What if, for example, a home is one of the first in a new subdivision. As other houses are still being built, short-term resale of a two-year old house can be difficult. Given two similar choices in the same neighborhood, most buyers opt for a brand new house as opposed to one that's been lived in. Additionally, builder incentives can make the new home down the street more attractive to buyers.
This typically changes as the neighborhood matures and the builders clear out.
That's a big closet
It's not all about the investment, though. You have to live in this home. Central air, large pantries, walk-in closets, multi-car garages, more and bigger bathrooms and other contemporary amenities are more common in newer homes. There are not many 40-year-old homes featuring a master suite with a spa and two walk-in closets.
New homes are also built with infrastructure tailored to modern life - like having more electrical outlets or being pre-wired for security or Internet.
Additionally, there are stricter building codes and significant advances in construction materials and techniques. These improvements result in safer and more energy-efficient homes.
Also, the builder may offer customization options, like color schemes, flooring, kitchen cabinets or appliances, that allow you a degree of personalization. Existing homes were built and designed to someone else's standard and taste, which is bound to be different from yours.
On the flip side, many older homes have a charm from the period during which they were built. That's not easily replicated in a new home. Some older homes sit on larger parcels of land than the lots common in most new subdivisions. You also may find an existing home that has been remodeled in a way that suits your needs perfectly.
New doesn't mean perfect
Home maintenance comes with homeownership. There is no house that is maintenance- or defect-free - ven brand new homes. In fact, it's not uncommon to find at least one construction defect that must be addressed in a brand new house. So, if you do opt for a new home, make sure you understand the warranty and the process for identifying and fixing problems.
If the 'hood fits …
The neighborhood should be a significant part of your decision. Think about what you value - school district, proximity to your workplace, and day-to-day convenience are common concerns for most people, but your list may vary.
You'll find that many residential builders acquire large tracts of land (usually far away from the center of the city) and starting a subdivision from scratch. It's more cost-effective to lay infrastructure and build if there are no obstacles. So, if you happen to be partial to large trees lining the streets, an older neighborhood may be more your style.
Some new communities also initially lack services like nearby grocery stores, shopping or other things that you take for granted in established areas.
When can I move in?
If you purchase a home before it's completed, builder delays or other holdups could prevent you from moving in on schedule. This may end up being no big deal, but if the timing's wrong, you may have to find a temporary solution while the setbacks are resolved. This may mean delaying closing on the sale of your current home, finding a place to rent, staying with friends or family or placing your belongings in storage.
Talk to someone who can help
When you're deciding between a newly built home and an existing home, decide based on your family's needs. A Realtor can help you sift through the options. Sit down with him and let him know what's important to you and your family.
Whether you're interested in buying your first home, your next home, or just want to know more about home-ownership in general, I encourage you to check out a couple of great online resources: http://www.texasrealestate.com/ or http://www.har.com/ and for all of your Pearland TX and Northern Brazoria and Galveston County real estate needs, please visit my site at http://www.danfrankrealty.com/. All of these sites offer tons of useful, real estate-related information geared specifically for Texans.
Danny Frank is a local Pearland TX Real Estate expert! You can see my entire blog at http://www.pearlandrealtyblog.com
My column was also published in the 17May09 edition of the Galveston County Daily News