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Buying New Homes Vs. Buying Existing Homes

According to Lawrence Yun, senior economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the 2007 market puts buyers of homes at an "overwhelming advantage". However, the NAR is also predicting that 2008 sales will increase due to a slow down in new home construction that is helping to balance out the market place. For those who are considering buying in this current real estate climate, the decision of whether to invest in newly built homes, or existing ones, can be pretty confusing. With fewer brand new homes available on the market, maybe you’ll get a better deal on a slightly older house. But how can you make an informed decision? The basic factors you want to keep in mind for the homes you consider are upkeep, neighborhood, structure, and cost.

Upkeep of Homes on the Market

Many first time homeowners assume that a new house requires less maintenance. While that should be the case, the reality is that the craftsmanship of the homes can have more impact than their age. A solidly built 10-year-old home may not have the same issues as a shoddily made, cookie-cutter home in new community. How can you tell? Find a good inspector to look at any homes you consider. Wood fixtures, appliances and overall structural integrity need to pass muster before you make any serious offers.

Neighborhood of Homes on the Market

Older homes often surpass new construction in desirability if you want to live in an historic or popular area. If you are in love with a certain part of town, or committed to sending your children to a specific school district, new home construction may not be an option. Also, if you really love a specific architectural style, you might find you are better able to afford older homes in that style than to locate or have a newer one built. You may also find that you can afford a newer and bigger home, but in a less desirable area of town. You will need to weigh your priorities. This leads to the look and design of homes in general.

Structure of Homes on the Market

For buyers at the middle or lower end of the house buying spectrum, the trend for new home construction tends to lean towards deed restricted communities, small lots, and "cookie-cutter" style homes. There are some benefits here for first time homebuyers who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a new house. The down sides are that deed restricted communities place significant limits on what you can do to your property. Some tend to have very little space between homes. And appreciation of your home will be impacted by how well your neighbors maintain their property. Of course, you may also find this in buying an existing home in one of those communities. You will need to decide how important an established community or large yard is to your life. Just as you will need to evaluate the physical and aesthetic structure of the homes you consider.

Cost of Homes on the Market

Your final determination will be cost. You may be able to find almost new, or slightly older homes, in great shape. Or you may save $20,000 on an older home and get stuck replacing the roof the next year. Your best bet is to get a good home inspection, evaluate the quality of other homes in the area, and weigh your options and priorities. As with most aspects of evaluating homes for sale, your decision is personal and completely based on your needs and desires.

By John Harris
Published: 7/26/2007


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