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New Construction vs. Re-Sale: It’s Your Choice

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While many homebuyers have their minds made up whether to buy new construction or an established home, others aren’t so sure which way to go.  We asked three Coldwell Banker Preferred real estate agents about the pros and cons of each choice.

“Part of the choice is dictated by location,” says agent Beth Borchers of Haddonfield.  “If you want to live in an established town or in a big city, newer construction may be hard to find, while expanding areas have fewer older homes.”

On availability, a main reason to buy new construction is, “You don’t have to live with anyone else’s choices,” says agent Sarah Forti of Wayne.  “New construction can be customized as much or as little as you would like.”  Agent Kimberly Morehart of Wilmington adds another plus, “The condition of the mechanicals – heating, air conditioning, roof – are all new.”  This is an especially attractive feature for couples nearing retirement and who are tired of having to deal with house repairs.

“The builder may have programs for their clients that give them the opportunity to put a deposit on a home, select the lot, and start working on the building process.” Additionally, some developers will offer incentives, such as finished basements or granite countertops, and, in some cases, may even offer on-site financing.

Finally, if a buyer wants new construction but can’t wait six to 12 months to move in, some builders may have a few unsold “quick delivery” homes that are almost ready to occupy.  Even if you don’t get all your choices in this case, you still get “new.”

For other people, the incentive to buy an older home, whether a few years or half- century old, is that “the buyer has the ability to choose a home in an established neighborhood where the landscape already has trees and other growth,” Morehart points out.  “These buyers aren’t looking for cookie-cutter property that looks just like all of the neighbors’ houses,” Forti adds.  Plus, because the house does have age, if may allow the buyer to purchase a home with more features and larger square footage than could be afforded with a new home.

With existing homes or ones that need work, your costs can be reduced if you want to supply your own labor, Borchers adds.  In addition, even new homes can carry with them additional costs that may add up to tens of thousands of dollars, Forti points out.  “These hidden costs when building a new home include custom painting, window treatments throughout the home and landscaping, to name a few.”

And buying an older home doesn’t have to mean that it’s out of date.  One solution in getting an established look but one with modern interiors is buying a home that’s been built within the past five or so years.  Plus, even an older house with outside charm and character may have been renovated on the inside by the sellers.  “They may have gourmet kitchens, luxurious bathrooms and new trim, molding, doors and hardware,” Forti says.

“With an older home, you have more flexibility in negotiations, and you don’t have to wait to move in and can select the lender of your choice,” Morehart says. The downsides are equally clear.  In spite of thorough inspections, you may not have any recourse if a major problem pops up after you’ve  made purchase. “You truly do not know the true condition or value until you live in the home,” Morehart says.

To help with your decisions about buying a family home, new or re-sale, find a Coldwell Banker Preferred agent near you at cbpref.com.