Which is Right for You

Is a newly built home right for you? 

Do you want a home that you’ve helped design and that offers the latest in energy efficiency and design?

Or a previously owned home that may need fix-ups, paint jobs, and walls moved around to create the types of open spaces that make sense today?

These are baseline questions that confront many home shoppers early in the process. Your own answers are likely to depend on your lifestyle preferences, financing needs and the priorities you put on features like high energy efficiency, functional arrangements of interior living spaces and your desire, budget and aptitude when it comes to repairs and capital improvements.

There are a number of reasons you might prefer a resale house, even if it needs work. For instance, you may have your heart set on moving to a specific neighborhood in the city or a close-in suburb, where newly constructed houses are rare or not available unless you buy an existing home, tear it down, and build a new home on the lot. Or you may be a do-it-yourself aficionado and relish the opportunity to take an old house and transform it, even if that takes considerable time and money.

So it’s understandable that some buyers prefer an existing house in an older neighborhood. But have you seriously considered the potential advantages of buying new? Here’s a quick overview of some of the important pluses of new homes to think about:

Energy Consumption/Green Building

If you care about “green” — whether that means the money you spend on energy bills every month or your concern about the environment — a newly constructed home is virtually always the better option. Homes built today must meet far tougher national code standards for energy efficiency than just a few years back. Most newly built homes, in fact, come with energy certifications covering walls, roofs, windows, doors and even appliance packages. Virtually no resale homes offer certifications because they were built to much lower standards — often decades ago, when energy usage was an afterthought.

You can retrofit many elements of an existing house to improve its energy efficiency, but it’s costly. Even then, because of design shortcomings, you may not be able to achieve the level of efficiency that is now routine with a newly constructed home. In addition, new homes typically offer better air filtration which increases indoor air quality, reducing symptoms from those who have asthma or allergies.

Flexibility for Space and Wiring Customization

When you buy a resale house, you get what’s already there. That may include room layouts, ceiling heights and lighting that may have made sense in the1950s or earlier — formal dining rooms, small kitchens, fewer bathrooms and windows, and the like. With a new home, by comparison, you can often participate in the design of interior spaces with the builder, in advance of actual construction. Plus many new homes come with the sophisticated wiring that’s needed for high-speed electronics and communication equipment, entertainment centers and security systems. With an older home, you may have to spend substantial sums of money to take down walls where that’s possible — some are so-called load-bearing walls that are not easily moved — to enlarge rooms in order to create the flowing, more open living space that is preferred today.