Real Estate

Buying a New vs. Old House: Which Is Better?

3 Mins read

When buying a house, there are many factors to consider including the property’s location, size, neighborhood, and much more.

One important factor that you can’t overlook is the property’s age. Do you want to buy an existing home or a brand-new one?

There are pros and cons to both options, and in this article, we’ll go over what they are so you can make a more informed buying decision.

Let’s start with the pros and cons of buying an old home:

Pros of buying an old home

  • Central location. Since many existing homes have been around for a while, they are more likely to be centrally located. That means you’ll have more access to nearby amenities, such as shopping centers, schools, parks, etc., and they’ll be more walkable. In addition, you may benefit from predictable zoning and housing regulations.
  • Affordability. Though real estate tends to appreciate overall, the actual structure of a building depreciates with age due to natural wear. This can help lower the price of a property compared to an equivalent new home.
  • Faster move-in. Because you don’t have to wait for an existing home to be built, you can often move into it sooner. You also don’t have to worry about potential construction delays or supply chain issues.
  • Historical value. Some older homes are built in a particular style or period that gives them extra historical value. This can not only help give it more charm but boost its resale value.

Cons of buying an old house

  • Outdated construction. Some older homes may not meet current housing regulations. For example, houses built before 1978 may have been built with hazardous lead or asbestos. Older homes may also have outdated heating and cooling systems or fewer electrical outlets. Updating such homes can be time-consuming and costly.
  • Poorer condition. Older homes are more likely to come with maintenance and repair issues. Addressing these can get expensive fast, so at the very least, you should get a thorough home inspection to know what you’re up against.
  • Smaller size. American houses have grown over time. In 1973, the median-size house was 1,525 square feet. In 2015, it was 2,467 square feet. Consequently, an older home may be smaller than you are used to and may not fit modern appliances.

Now that you know the benefits and drawbacks of buying an existing home, let’s go over the pros and cons of buying a new one:

Pros of buying a new house

  • Brand new material. One of the most obvious benefits of buying a new home is that it’s brand new. That includes all the appliances, flooring, roofing—everything. As a result, the property will be in pristine condition and won’t need any repairs anytime soon. That said, be sure to consult a reputable construction attorney to ensure your new home doesn’t come with any construction defects.
  • Customization. Many home builders allow you to help design your new home. That means you can customize the interior and exterior to your liking to ensure you get exactly what you want.
  • Warranties. Most new construction homes come with warranties to protect you from unexpected repairs within the first few years of ownership. This is something you typically don’t get with existing homes.
  • Energy efficiency. Newer homes tend to be designed with energy efficiency in mind. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. homes built after the year 2000 are, on average, more energy efficient. In the long run, this can save you a lot of money by cutting down on utility costs.
  • Less maintenance. When a home is new, it tends to require less maintenance—at least within the first few years. That means less money and time spent on upkeep.

Cons of buying a new house

  • Higher price. A new home will cost more than an equivalent existing home because you have to pay for its construction and all the new materials and appliances. As with most things, ‘new’ comes at a premium. In 2022, the average cost of a new U.S. home was $543,600.
  • Less negotiation power. Most construction companies have fixed prices, so there tends to be less room for negotiation. That means you’re unlikely to haggle your way to a bargain deal.
  • Non-central location. Most lots in central locations have already been built on. Consequently, the only lots available for new homes tend to be on the outskirts of town or in new developments. This could mean being further away from amenities than you’d like.

The final verdict

At the end of the day, whether it’s best for you to buy a new or existing home will depend on your personal situation. You may not be able to afford a new home or you may prefer the charm of an older one. Conversely, you may love the thought of a home that’s never been lived in before and have the money to afford it.

Carefully consider your needs and preferences and then weigh your options. Above all, make the decision that makes the most sense for you and your family in the long run.

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Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in tech, social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.