There’s nothing like walking into a brand spanking new home: everything’s shiny and clean, the fixtures are upgraded…it even smells new! Then again, that old Victorian house with squeaky floorboards and original trim has character that money can’t buy. How do you decide whether or not to spring for a new home? Here are a couple things to keep in mind when weighing the pros and cons of buying new construction.
You Get to Design Your Own Home
One of the most appealing aspects of newly-built homes is the ability to customize almost everything about the home. Buyers can choose the floor plan, the material for the exterior of the home, the fixtures, the flooring and an unlimited number of other details about their new home. If the selection process for all the upgrades sounds daunting, Coldwell Banker Elite’s Kevin Michael Breen recommends new build buyers “ask the builder if they will be providing a kitchen and bath designer to help with selections. If the builder is not offering design help, hiring a designer for your selection process is not a bad idea and can relieve some of the stress caused by a room full of flooring options or a wall full of counter choices.”
If there’s nothing on the market that perfectly matches what you’re looking for, this might be a huge selling point for you. These customizations can come at a price, however! It’s easy to overspend when deciding on upgrades for your new home. The granite countertops you always envisioned may be too expensive once you’ve decided that you want hardwood throughout the home or to add brick to the exterior, as opposed to vinyl siding. And for as much as you can customize the homes, if you are looking for very specific customizations like an elevator or other accommodations for certain disabilities, you may not be able to find what you’re looking for from a mainstream builder. Your average new construction builder will typically only offer aesthetic customization options, not drastic structural ones!
There’s Less Upfront Maintenance
Another really attractive feature of new construction is the perception that there will be much less maintenance involved for the first few years because everything is new! While this is true to a certain extent, there will always be things that go wrong when buying a new home. Be prepared for unexpected costs, even if it seems like everything will go swimmingly! Problems, such as unsealed windows, may arise in new homes that would otherwise have been resolved in existing homes. However, there are definitely massive benefits to purchasing a home that has been constructed using the newest, safest building codes and eco-friendly, energy-efficient materials. There is no risk of asbestos or lead paint in new homes and you may save money on your energy bills due to the improved insulation!
What to Watch Out For
One thing to be particularly aware of when buying a newly-built home is the neighborhood. Will the phase that your home is in be finished relatively quickly or will you be living in a construction site for years to come? What does the neighborhood offer in terms of amenities? A good question to ask yourself is: would you live here even if you couldn’t customize your new home? The appeal of the customized fixtures may wear off, but you’ll always have to live in that neighborhood. Make sure you’re not blinded by all the shiny upgrades! Amberly Green, Coldwell Banker Elite’s Relocation Director, advises to always get a home inspection on new homes: “The times I have bought new construction I sure did not want to climb up on the roof myself to make sure it was done properly. An inspection can save tons of money later if an issue arises after your builder warranty is up.” Mandy Maddox, an agent from our Spotsylvania office, mentioned how important hiring a quality, reliable builder is when buying new construction: “You MUST check a builder’s background out thoroughly before signing any contract. I talk to people who live in houses previously built by that builder 5,10, 15, even 20 years ago to see how the house is holding up today and if they think it was well constructed. I also interview the builders with the clients and find out what kind of services they offer for the price.”
Hurry Up and Wait
One main difference between new construction and existing homes is the amount of time it takes to close and take possession of the home. New construction typically takes 4-6 months to be built, while an existing home can be purchased in 30-45 days. For Dan Donehey, an agent with our Massaponax office, this hasn’t been an issue. “Many buyers have been willing to wait for the new construction even if it wasn’t going to be ready within the timetable they had hoped for. Also, builders often have incentives like a finished basement or added sunroom along with financing incentives to help with closing costs all of which are usually music to the ears of my buyers.”
You Might Not Make Money On It
New construction also requires higher upfront costs than an existing home, while their resale value is typically lower than purchase price. You are paying more for the ability to completely design a made-to-order house. The next buyers will not have had this luxury and by then, it is no longer brand new so prospective buyers will have to deal with the associated maintenance costs. Coldwell Banker Elite Broker Latana Locke from the King George office took advantage of this situation by buying a resale home in a new construction neighborhood: “My husband and I are purchasing a resale in Hopyard built in 2012. We priced the same home to be built in that same subdivision and were able to save about $20,000 and did not have to wait 6 months for it to be built. We were able to see the completed room sizes, visualize our furniture in the home and had a great home inspection knowing that there were no settlement issues with the ground, or cracks in the walls or foundation. The paint was already upgraded as was the kitchen, and landscaping was complete (not sure what it would have been like in Feb. or March if we went with new and it was completed in the winter). Best is that I did not have to rent and move twice.” Latana’s solution is actually pretty ingenious if you really want all the benefits of new construction but don’t care too much about customization—buying a practically new home can save you thousands!
So What’s The Verdict?
That all depends on what is most important to you in your home search! If you are prioritizing customization, shiny new features and builder incentives, a new construction home might be for you! If you don’t mind having to change some aspects of your home on your own in order to save money, an existing home might be a better choice! Only you can decide if buying a new construction home is right for your family, but hopefully the combined wisdom of our Coldwell Banker Elite agents will help you make that decision.