Choosing Between a New Build and a Fixer-Upper

Choosing Between a New Build and a Fixer-Upper

It's always exciting to start thinking about a new home, but there can be a lot to consider. What area, what features, how much land, price - these and many more items are part of any home search. A big one buyers often don't consider until they start looking is whether to build new or buy an existing home that might need some work.

Related Blog: 5 Reasons to Avoid Traditional Bank Loans When Purchasing a Home

Move-In Ready?

This is popular phrase used in real estate listings. However, the reality is that almost no existing home is truly move-in ready. While there are always exceptions, most existing homes will need at least some amount of work, be it painting, cleaning, caulking, etc. Such a house might also need more extensive work, like new flooring, windows, countertops, appliances, and many other possibilities. For most homes, the only way to be truly, absolutely move-in ready is to build new. When you build new, not only is everything new, everything was also picked out by you, including the colors of literally everything in the home. You get exactly what you want.

Why Doesn't Everyone Just Build New?

While a new build sounds appealing, there are some possible drawbacks too. For starters, your choice of location is limited to new construction areas, unless you can afford to buy an existing home, demolish it and build a new one upon the same site. Do you love neighborhoods with large canopy trees? You probably won't find many in new-construction developments. Hate Homeowners Associations (HOAs)? Almost any new development will include an HOA. A new build also means a new lawn and new landscaping, which can be more difficult to care for than existing growth in an older home. Then there is price. All that newness generally comes at a premium price compared to a similar previously-occupied home in the same area. You might also have to give up features that are commonly found in older homes but are prohibitively expensive in new builds, like hardwood floors, oak moldings or even laundry chutes.

How Handy Are You?

On the other hand, an older home's cost can quickly rival and surpass that of a new build if you buy it with the intention of doing major renovations but will have to hire someone to do all of them. Can you do your own painting, put in a new floor or replace the bedroom windows yourself? Can you do any or all of a bathroom remodel? If you can do all of those things and more, then you can potentially buy a home that needs those items at a good discount. If you'll need to hire contractors to do all of that, you'll need to carefully consider the real cost of the home before you write in an offer. Also think about how handy you actually are. This is your home. Can you really put down a ceramic floor? Can you live with possible imperfections in your work?

They Don't Build 'Em Like they Used To

This is both good and bad, depending on your preferences and needs. New builds are generally more energy-efficient, more environmentally-friendly and include more open spaces than older homes. On the other hand, new homes generally use thinner and lighter (and possibly less durable) materials than older homes. Another issue sometimes heard about newer homes is that they lack craftsmanship and individuality. They are built quickly, and often look very similar to many other homes nearby. Older homes may have unique features that a mass-builder would never consider offering, even as an option.

There is no right answer to the buy vs. build question. Your family is unique in the world, with a set of requirements equally unique to your circumstances, budget and sensibilities. Every home requires work sooner or later, but some require it before you even move in. The high ceilings often found in newer homes are great until you need to paint them or change the bulb in a light fixture. There may be no right answer, but there is certainly a right home for you. Still not sure which way you're leaning? Contact us, we love to talk to you and work through the different options.

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