Charming Character or Cutting Edge: Choosing Between Old and New Homes

A big decision many homebuyers face is whether to buy new home or an older home. Price, amenities, functionality, maintenance costs, aesthetics and location are just some of the considerations that can differentiate newer homes from older ones.

Evaluating your options based on a list of factors that are most important to you will help simplify the decision. Is energy efficiency a must-have? Is a strong community a top priority? Here are some pros and cons of older and newer homes to get you started.

Newer Homes

Pros

  • Spacious- In the 1970’s, the average U.S. home size was 1,400 sq. feet. In 2009, that number had nearly doubled to 2,700 sq. feet, according to the National Association of Home Builders. People expect modern construction to come with extra storage space and larger rooms, like a master bedroom suite.
  • Less maintenance required- It’s like the new car argument: A new house probably won’t need much attention right off the bat. Because newer residences are held to more recent building standards, there should be less hidden hazards around the house.
  • Energy efficient- New properties often come with built-in amenities such as dishwashers, microwaves and central air conditioning units. These appliances are usually built to consume less energy. In 2012, the International Energy Conservation Code required 15% more energy efficiency than just three years prior.
Home Buying, Old versus New Homes

New homes are usually built in subdivisions on the outskirts of town.

Cons

  • High price point- High costs for land and zoning in newly developed suburbs mean higher home prices. New properties are more expensive per sq. foot when compared to their older counterparts.
  • Cookie cutter design- Tract homes come with repeated designs. Unless you are building the house completely from ground up, your new home might look just like your neighbor’s.

 

Older Homes 

Pros

  • Less expensive- Because they’ve had years of wear and tear, older properties typically have a lower price point. You may also get more wiggle room when it’s time to make an offer.
  • Close-knit communities- With older homes you often won’t just get a house, but also a community with a well-established support system. Plus, older homes are usually located near the heart of town.
  • Individuality- Older homes are often built by hand and have stood the test of time in terms of craftsmanship. Minute but unique architectural details can give these properties a certain charm. Each house looks different from the next, so yours won’t get lost in the crowd.

Cons

  • Lack of functionality- Houses built before the 1970’s tend to have smaller rooms and less modern amenities, unless they’ve been updated recently. It’s common to see only two or three bedrooms and between one and one-half baths. Rooms typically have one outlet per wall, which may present a problem for the more gadget-friendly homebuyers.
  • Potential energy guzzler- Insulation materials in an older home are often outdated and ineffective. Appliances like furnaces and water heaters are most likely low-efficiency, especially if they haven’t been updated since the home was built. As a result, you could get stuck with higher utility bills. You may also get saddled with upgrade and maintenance costs if the wiring and sewer systems are worn out.

Photo courtesy rutlo