Are You Buying a Home?
In a hot seller’s market, first-time home buyers may not want to take time to consider the age of a home for sale before bidding on it. Homes can sell so quickly, it’s sometimes a matter of minutes, not hours or days, between when a home comes on the market and it's sold.
So, if you're in the market right now, it’s understandable that you feel like you need to act fast to win the home you want. But, as with so many purchases, it's important to heed the creed of buyer beware. If the home you are considering is an older house (typically, a home is considered older if it was built 50 or more years ago), it's important to be aware of both the benefits and pitfalls of buying it.
That said, there are both advantages and disadvantages to buying a new home as well. So what's a home buyer like you to do? Take a few minutes to review these new house vs. old house pros and cons. When you are clear about the issues that may come with either buying an older home or a newer one, you’ll be better able to make the right purchase for your needs. And these tips are helpful whether you are about to bid on a home or still looking.
Have You Found a Home to Buy?
If you have your sights set on the home of your dreams, it may be difficult now to allow age to factor into your decision-making. But even the most fervent dream eventually bumps into practicality. That doesn’t mean you should stop dreaming—it just helps to know what you are getting into, especially if your dream house is a bit long in the tooth. While the information here may not be enough to sway you, you’ll walk into your new home with your eyes open.
Are You Looking for a Home to Buy?
If you are still in house-hunting mode, this is the right time to think about a few new house vs. old house pros and cons—before you are ready to start bidding. When you have a better idea of what you want and don’t want, your house hunting will be more effective (read: you'll spend less time looking at homes you know don’t fit your bill.)
To Buy a New Home, or an Older One? Let’s Answer the Question
Buying a home may be one of life’s biggest investments. And big life events tend to be things we think about... a lot! So, you may well know the answers to these questions already when it comes to a home purchase, but here’s a quick list of items to consider, as they can impact whether you decide that buying an old house vs. a new house makes more sense for you:
- Do you want a big backyard?
- Do you like new things?
- Do you want to be able to walk to town?
- Is square footage important?
- How much do you have saved for a home purchase?
- Are you in need of a lot of storage space?
- Is the kitchen a big factor for you?
- Are you handy?
- Does architecture make you happy?
While not exhaustive when it comes to things to think about before buying a house, your answers to these questions are directly related to the issues that can come into play, whether you end up buying a new home or an older one. Let’s look at the pros and cons of buying an old house first.
Buying an Old House
- Generally speaking, if you want a larger yard, you’ll find that older homes typically have larger lots. Newer construction favors building larger homes on smaller lots. Want a big backyard? You’ll have more luck with an older home.
- Older homes tend to have been built in town or just on the outskirts, making excursions to town on foot an easy endeavor. If being in or near town is important, you’re more likely to find that in the older homes for sale near you.
- If cost is a factor, older homes tend to be less expensive to buy. Research has found that the U.S. median home price for buying a newer home can often cost as much as $100,000 more than the median price for an older home.
- Older homes often have more charming, special architectural touches and a less cookie-cutter look overall. If architecture is something you enjoy, you may find that the delight you feel when you get home more than offsets the added upkeep an older home requires.
- Older homes often have certain intangibles, like mature trees and landscaping on the property, locations in appealing, established neighborhoods, and a long history of appreciation that, while not indicative of future success, can provide a sense of confidence that the home will be a good investment long-term.
- Older homes often were built with smaller bedrooms and little closet space. If you want some extra elbow room or need a lot of storage space, a newer home may be a better bet. Many older homes were built with one-car garages as well, making storage space a potentially bigger issue.
- Square footage can sometimes be less than desirable in older homes. Many homes were built with 2-3 bedrooms and 1-2 baths, which may not be enough house for your needs.
- If you are not comfortable with DIY jobs or don’t have the time or money to spend on upkeep, an older home may not be for you. Older homes often need more maintenance, including sometimes expensive pairs or renovations to roofs and foundations or upgrades to plumbing and electrical.
- Kitchens and bathrooms in older homes may also need remodeling, and flooring may be another issue. Styles change and if you don’t want to spend the time or money to remodel, focus on newer homes for sale.
- Another drawback to also consider can be smell; by being older, these homes can be more susceptible to issues that can lead to musty or sometimes moldy smells. Fixable, but a consideration nevertheless.
- Energy efficiency is another con, as many older homes have poor to no insulation, older windows, and older heating systems. It can be expensive to heat older homes, and more costly still if you need to upgrade an old furnace or boiler.
Buying a New Home
As you review these pros and cons to buying a new home, be aware that some of what we cover here applies to both new construction and newer homes—those less than 20 years old.
- A new or newer home is typically just as advertised. These homes typically offer the latest construction advances, plumbing and electrical systems, and often, smart home features.
- Energy efficiency may be the biggest reason to look for newer homes for sale. While you pay more upfront for a new or newer home, you can recover much of that expense over time in savings on heating and cooling costs.
- A brand-new home can also offer you more confidence around big-ticket repairs because you begin your homeownership life with a new HVAC system, water heater, flooring or carpeting, roof, windows, and so on, making the likelihood small that you will need to repair or replace these items for typically 5-10 years or more, especially if you keep up with basic upkeep.
- Homeowner's insurance is often less expensive with new or newer homes because they were built with the most current standards.