For the past few years, the housing market has been a footrace. Buyers are sprinting towards residential real estate. Many were attracted to favorable financial terms, thousands bought “pandemic homes,” and investors grew enthralled with “flippers” and potential income properties. Houses that used to stay on the market for months were suddenly under contract in days, and sometimes hours.
The market is still hot for residential real estate, and it invites a question for buyers:
Should you buy an existing home or invest in a brand-new construction?
The answer isn’t simple, but there are trade-offs to both.
For example, some friends of ours live in Richmond’s Museum District, and their home is over 120-years old. Sure, it’s been updated – modern appliances; a coal furnace exchanged for a heat pump; lead glass windows replaced with thermopane… They even installed solar panels and a fancy Tesla battery to offset some of their utility costs.
But no repair on their home is easy, and annual maintenance is more like daily upkeep. The trade-off for them is a beautiful historic home in a desirable neighborhood.
What, then, are the intrinsic benefits of buying new construction?
The first and most obvious is maintenance. Everything in your home will be brand-new. The roof will last for decades. Rather than trusting a home inspector who looks at 50-year-old wiring and scratches his head and says, “I suppose that’s okay,” all of the infrastructure in your home – from basic construction to wiring and plumbing – will be professionally inspected and certified before the walls are closed in. There will be no worries about something lurking in the ceiling or behind a cabinet somewhere.
Your builder will guarantee almost all aspects of the construction, while your appliances and HVAC systems carry an additional warranty from the manufacturer. The water heater will be worry-free, the exterior paint can linger ignored, and you’re free from cares that hidden defects will ruin your Saturday.
Another plus to buying new is the innovation in modern systems. Your new home is welcoming for greener and smarter appliances. New HVAC systems and thermostats keep your home more comfortable for less money than older systems. Newer construction uses more efficient methods of building for energy efficiency, with better building wraps and cost-effective insulation. Instead of our friend’s lead glass windows, new windows are routinely double- triple- and even quadruple-paned.
In our world, we build custom homes that cater to the desires of our clients. When you buy an existing home, your thoughts are often turned to what walls can be removed or how you can make your kitchen better for entertaining. When you buy a custom home, you reap all of the benefits of a new construction, and you get to make all of those design choices up-front.
There’s certainly an allure to owning a character-filled older home. There are tons of home inspectors and contractors out there who are supremely capable and can help you avoid buying a “Money Pit.”
But being the very first owner of a home certainly has its perks.