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The Real Estate Corner
Is a new or existing home right for you?
Wednesday, June 22, 2011 • Posted June 24, 2011 11:43 AM

You’ve decided to buy a home. Among the many choices you’re faced with is this: Newly constructed or existing house?

There are advantages and disadvantages to each, so the decision may not be an easy one. No matter which way you go, you’ll probably end up making a few tradeoffs. In the end, choose the type of home that makes the most sense for you, your lifestyle and your plans.

Don’t plan on selling soon – From an investment standpoint, it’s wise to think about the future when you’re buying – after all, you’ll be the seller one day, and you want to get the largest possible return on your investment.

What if, for example, a home is one of the first finished in a subdivision. There won’t be much of a market for your home as long as new homes are still being built. Given two similar choices in the same neighborhood, most buyers opt for a brand-new house as opposed to one that’s been lived in. Additionally, builder incentives can make the new home down the street more attractive to buyers. So make sure you’re comfortable with staying put for a few years.

That’s a big closet – Your home purchase shouldn’t be all about the investment. You have to live in this house. Central air, large pantries, walk-in closets, multi-car garages, more and bigger bathrooms and other amenities are more common in newer homes. There are not many 50-year-old homes featuring a master suite with a spa and two walk-in closets.

New homes are also built with infrastructure tailored to modern life, such as being pre-wired for security, surround sound and Internet connections. Additionally, there are stricter building codes and significant advances in construction materials and techniques. These improvements result in safer and more energy-efficient homes.

Do you like charm? A builder may offer options – color schemes, flooring, kitchen cabinets, appliances – that allow you a degree of personalization. Existing homes were built and designed to someone else’s standard and taste, which is bound to be different from yours.

On the flip side, many older homes possess charms not easily replicated in a new home. Some older homes sit on larger parcels of land than the lots in most new subdivisions. You also may find an existing home that has been remodeled in a way that suits your needs perfectly.

New doesn’t mean perfect – Home maintenance comes with homeownership. There is no house, new or old, that is maintenance- or defect-free. In fact, it’s common to find at least one construction defect that must be addressed in a brand-new house. So, if you do opt for a new home, make sure you understand the builder’s warranty and the process for identifying and fixing problems.

Consider the neighborhood – Residential builders need large tracts of vacant land to create new subdivisions; it’s more cost-effective to lay infrastructure and build if there are no obstacles. That kind of open space isn’t usually available close to downtown or existing business districts. So consider that your newly built home may be far from grocery stores, shopping malls and restaurants. Also, if you like mature trees lining the streets, an older neighborhood may be more your style.

When can I move in? – If you purchase a home before it’s completed, builder delays or other holdups could prevent you from moving in on schedule. This may end up being no big deal, but if the timing’s wrong, you may have to find temporary housing while the setbacks are resolved. This may mean delaying closing on the sale of your current home, finding a place to rent, staying with friends or family or placing your belongings in storage.

Talk to someone who can help – When you’re deciding between a newly built home and an existing home, decide based on your needs. A Texas Realtor® can help you sift through the options. Sit down with him and let him know what’s important to you.

For more information about buying and selling houses, visit TexasRealEstate.com.

For your real estate needs, contact RE/MAX Genesis at 830-833-2000.

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