TimberCraftTips

Should You Buy an Old Home or a New Home?

It’s one of the first decisions facing every would-be homeowner — should you purchase a used home that’s already been lived in or go with a newly constructed home? There are multiple factors that go into this choice, but ultimately it comes down to what’s right for you.

If you’re wondering which option will best meet your needs, consider these questions.

Is your design style more traditional or more contemporary?

Layouts that are common in new homes, like open-plan kitchens and en-suite bathrooms, are harder to find in older homes. On top of that, older homes often come with quirks like low ceilings and doorways, sloping floors, and tiny bathrooms and closets. It’s possible to update an existing home to meet your tastes, but if you’re attached to a contemporary style, it might be more convenient to go with new construction. Not only will you start with a floor plan that’s more aligned to your vision and lifestyle, but often you can have a say in the design and selection process.

What’s your budget for repairs?

All homes require maintenance at some point, so this question is really about when you want to spend the money. Going with a used home means that big purchases like a new roof, new appliances, or a new water heater are more likely to spring up in the short term. Depending on the age of the home and what kind of work the previous owners have done, you might also need to invest in new wiring, new plumbing, or HVAC updates to ensure your home is up to code. And older homes can sometimes come with unpleasant surprises like asbestos or lead paint, which can be pricey problems to remediate.

While a new home will require repairs over time, you’ll likely live there for many years before needing to worry about big-ticket items. Plus, you may even be able to get a warranty if your home is new construction.

Are you considering both price and cost?

When comparing new and used homes, it doesn’t make sense to simply look at the price tags. A home’s price is a set, one-time expense (even if you’re paying for it over a period of years), whereas its cost factors in additional amounts you may spend or save over the lifetime of the investment. In addition to thinking about each home’s expected maintenance costs based on its age, make sure to look at these other factors that can (sometimes drastically) affect the long-term cost of older homes:

  • Homes in need of updating generally have a lower resale value.  
  • Older appliances tend to be less energy efficient, which can increase your utility bills.
  • Homeowner’s insurance can be up to double the monthly cost for older homes.

Average Monthly Insurance Costs Based on Price and Age of Home

Home Price 5-10 Years 10-20 Years 20+ Years TimberCraft Home
$150,000 $115 $145 $165 $85
$175,000 $125 $155 $175 $95
$200,000 $140 $160 $180 $110
$225,000 $150 $170 $190 $120
$250,000 $160 $180 $200 $130
$275,000 $170 $190 $210 $140
$300,000 $180 $200 $220 $150

*Figures provided by a national homeowners insurance company

How efficient are the homes you’re looking at?

Today’s energy efficiency standards mean less energy is used and less energy is wasted, which leads to lower heating and cooling costs. Especially in Oklahoma, with our hot summers and cold winters, operating your home at an optimal level can make a big difference.

It’s possible to upgrade older homes to be more energy efficient, but it will cost you. On the other hand, not all new homes are built to the same quality or efficiency standards. Be sure to check the home’s energy certifications before investing.

Another way you can verify the efficiency of a home is to ask about its Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Score. The HERS Index is based on a nationally recognized scoring system for measuring energy performance, and a quality new home builder like TimberCraft will have HERS Scores ranging from 51-54. Just look at how much you can save over a 30-year mortgage by prioritizing a low HERS Score when buying.

How important to you is the home’s character?

Older homes are more likely to come with character and charm: unique architectural woodwork, quaint features like dumbwaiters and telephone nooks, and small touches like stained glass windows that are rarely seen in new homes. Some new homes can feel cookie-cutter, so if character is important to you, go with an older home or find a home builder that designs each home to be one-of-a-kind.

Is mature landscaping a priority?

New construction usually means new landscaping, too, so expect the view from your windows to be young trees and freshly planted bushes and shrubs. Older homes, on the other hand, often come with mature trees and potentially even a garden that’s been tended and cared for over many years. If you’ve got a green thumb, think about whether you want to take over an existing garden or start your own from scratch. And if you’d rather not spend your time on landscaping at all, think about going with new construction in a community that takes care of it for you.

 

Every prospective homeowner will have unique answers to these questions, so focus on what’s best for your own finances and family. And whether you go with used or new, congratulations on taking an exciting first step toward buying a home that’s all yours.

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