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Pros and Cons: Should You Buy an Old Home or a New Home?

Homeowner July 2, 2018
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It’s an age-old question for home buyers — should you buy a new home or an old home? New and old homes have their respective pros and cons, and every buyer should prioritize where cost, maintenance, modernity and charm fall on their list. Are you willing to sacrifice size if there’s an open layout? Are you prepared to offer time, effort and expense in maintaining a decades-old (or even centuries-old) home?  Here are a several factors to consider when you’re deciding whether to go old or new.

Pros: Old Homes

Quality construction

Homes built fifty years ago and earlier were constructed with high-quality hardwood and durable old-growth wood that’s resistant to rot and can stand the test of time. While newer homes have better insulation and are rated for greater energy-efficiency, you can’t beat a well-maintained house with a high-quality build and “good bones.”

Closer to town

Most old homes are located close to city centers and offer a more central location and shorter commutes to work and town for its residents. This wasn’t always the case, but as urban and suburban development exploded in the late 20th century, residents found that the city literally came to them!

Larger lots

Old houses are typically situated on larger plots of land than new homes. Even though the city may have grown around them over the decades, many still retain their original acreage outlined in the deed.

Cheaper to buy

There’s a reason why there’s an existing housing shortage and a dearth of new home construction— old homes are cheaper to buy. According to the National Association of Home Builders in 2016, the median cost of new home was $301,000, while the median cost of an existing home was only $212,000.

Cons: Old Homes

Cost of maintenance

An old home may have good bones, but the roof, plumbing, wiring, and other technology will either need a complete overhaul or some serious retrofitting to keep up with modern building codes. If it hasn’t already been implemented in your old house, it can be extremely expensive.

Outdated design

You may like the quaint architectural elements of an old home, but old houses weren’t built to accommodate our modern appliances or an abundance of necessary wiring. So before buying an extra-wide stainless steel refrigerator, first make sure it can fit through the front door.

Higher Utility Costs

Older homes are known for running up utility costs. Unless an old home has been expertly renovated with all-new windows, doors, and comprehensive insulation throughout the entire home (particularly in the basement and attic), your house will be leaking heating and cooling costs through every nook and crack.

Pros: New Homes

Energy efficient

New homes are built with energy-efficiency in mind, using state-of-the-art materials and thoughtful engineering for less impact. Dual-pane windows, effective and eco-friendly insulation, and HVAC cooling and heating systems all add up to savings for you.

Reduced maintenance

Newer homes shouldn’t need any major servicing in the first few years because they’re built to meet the current codes of efficiency, safety, and even face new concerns about climate. You can’t ignore any pressing concerns in a new home, but you won’t have to constantly administer to unexpected leaks or foundational issues as you would in a very old house.

Better design

New homes are better designed to meet the needs of modern living, including open floor plans, updated appliances, and integrated smart home systems. You might choose to renovate a new home to meet your personal preferences, but you likely won’t have to widen doorways, hallways, or knock down walls to fit larger furniture or appliances as you might in an old home.

Cons: New Homes

Higher Price

New homes comes with a much higher sticker price. In the past thirty years, as construction codes became more rigorous and expensive, cutting-edge building materials became the standard, home prices have soared. So be prepared to pay extra for a totally spotless, efficient and remodeled home!

Not Unique

Unless you’re paying a premium to build a one-of-a-kind home, chances are your new house looks a lot like every other house in the neighborhood — efficient and remodeled, but probably not unique.

Less Land

Houses in newer developments are usually built close to each other — that means less privacy and a smaller lot size for your home. Even though it’s a further commute to town, you won’t necessarily have a bigger yard.

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