When considering home ownership, there are three options, each of which brings its own sets of advantages and disadvantages to the table. You can choose to purchase a new home, to purchase an older home or to build your own home.
A new home has several automatic advantages that a would-be buyer should be aware of. New homes, according to the National Association of Home Builders, come with more amenities and conveniences. They tend to feature more built-in appliances, including dishwashers, and virtually all of them have central air conditioning and heating systems. They also may have more electrical outlets. Other tempting features of new homes include vanity cabinets, large mirrors, medicine cabinets and easy-to-clean plastic tub enclosures.
Something else to consider is safety. Studies show that occupants of new homes are almost six times less likely to die from fire than occupants of older homes. New homes generally come with smoke detectors, and with central heating systems that reduce the need for space heaters, which can sometimes cause fires.
Newer homes are also built with products and systems that are better for your health. Asbestos, which has been linked to a number of health concerns, has been eliminated from shingles, pipes, floor tiles, ceiling tiles and insulation.
New homes are also thought to be more energy efficient because of better windows, improved heating and cooling systems and a better use of insulation. They also require less maintenance because they are, after all, newer and come equipped with the conveniences a buyer is pursuing.
On the other hand, newer homes, whether purchased or built specifically to your needs, are more expensive. That may in turn lead you to consider looking at older homes, which have their own unique advantages.
Older neighborhoods are well established. You can see what's there, who the neighbors are, how far the nearest store is and what kind of growth is taking place. Something else to consider is that so-called "hot" areas can sometimes allow you to recover 80 to 100 percent of your remodeling costs. Improvements give the home, the neighborhood and the community a lift.
There also may be more room to negotiate on the price of an older home. Asking prices for new homes don't waver much, but in older neighborhoods that might not be the case. That's a factor that favors the buyer.
Finally, there are fewer hidden costs associated with older homes. With the exception of unforeseen repairs, you shouldn't be surprised by any costs associated with purchasing an older home.
If you're building a home, the largest advantage is you can tailor it to your own preferences. You can pick the floorplan that suits your needs and the amenities you want. However, it's going to cost more and you have to find the land on which to build.
When deciding between the three, ask the following questions:
- How much do you want to spend?
- How much time and money do you want to invest on improvements?
- What amenities can you live without?
- What kind of neighborhood do you want to live in?
Sources for these stories include: Coldwellbanker.com, Moving.com, Federal Citizen Information Center Home Page, Realtor.com, Homestore.com, homebuilder.com, forsalebyowner.com, San Diego Association of Realtors, Monstermoving.com, Interest.com, Century21.com and Amsouth.com.