Posted By Alan Donald @ May 7th 2009 12:45pm In: Buyers


One of the big decisions that a buyer must make, is whether to buy a new home, or an existing one. While new homes tend to have higher prices than comparable existing ones, there are other factors to consider:

TIMING - new tract homes can take 4-6 months to build (up to 12 months for custom-built). If you need a home sooner than this, you may look at inventory homes (or "specs") that new home builders may have available or in advanced construction, or existing homes.

PRICING - while new homes are generally more expensive, when a market is over-supplied, new home builders tend to offer larger incentives for buyers than those an existing home owner may be able to give. Incentives may include closing costs, allowances to pick extra options.

PERSONALIZATION - If you choose to build a new home, you will have the ability to choose colors, styles, floorplans, options and add-ons that can make your home very personalized to your tastes and preferences. Existing homes come with someone else's paint colors and options.

LOT SIZE - Most new home communities have smaller lot sizes than older, more established communities. The rising price of land has forced developers to reduce lot sizes.

TREES & LANDSCAPING - many new community builders prefer to start from a clean slate, cut down all existing tree cover (because it is cheaper to put in the infrastructure and build the homes) and start from scratch. This makes the community look a bit barren and lack mature tree cover. Existing, older communities normally feature more mature trees and landscaping that may appeal to you.

MAINTENANCE & OPERATING COSTS - newer homes tend to be more energy efficient, since they are built with higher efficiency building materials, stricter building codes and more efficient appliances. This will reduce your ongoing utility costs every month. Newer homes also require less maintenance than older ones, although the cost to maintain a home first increases with age, then declines. So you may spend less to maintain a 1960's home than one built in the 1980's.

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