When you are thinking about buying any home (new or resale), you should consider carefully both the positive and negative (pros and cons) of the purchase. You will also want to read some tips on how you can protect yourself when buying a new home.
Some advantages of buying a new home
Maintenance costs will be lower than on an older home, since the home and the systems (A/C, heat, plumbing, wiring, etc.) are new. A drive through resale neighborhoods will show that many homeowners put off maintenance to their homes and yards. In short, when you buy a new home, you will not be buying the previous homeowner’s problems.
- New homes have better insulation, higher efficiency A/C and heat units, and doors and windows that are designed to keep energy losses at a minimum. Look for a home that is Energy Star rated (http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=new_homes.hm_index). In these days of rapidly rising utility costs, a new home with its lower utility costs may be attractive.
- You will get a warranty on the home’s structural and major components. In Texas, new home builders are required to register with the state (Texas Residential Construction Commission), and must provide a 1-2-10-year warranty to the home purchaser. A client of mine recently bought a resale home in a community built by a major builder. During the inspection process, we were able to get the builder to take care of several items that the inspector noted in his report.
- If you select a new home early in the building process, you may have the opportunity (most of the time at extra cost to you) to select colors, type of flooring, kitchen and bath features (appliances, cabinets, hardware, and faucets), and some other design features of the home.
- A new home will be built according to current building codes, construction practices, and safety features (problems often noted in resale home inspection reports), and with features that today’s buyers want in homes (open floor plan, kitchen cabinet tops, large walk-in closets, etc.). Be sure that the builder you choose has a good reputation in the community and that it stands behind its product.
- Many new subdivisions (and those built in recent years) offer community amenity centers with playgrounds for children, swimming pool, clubhouse, golf and tennis, etc.
- Depending on what is happening in the real estate market, you may be able to get a new home, with upgrades, for the price of a resale home.
Some disadvantages of buying a new home
Homes built in new home communities are often described as “cookie–cutter” homes. The builder will build only a selected number of different homes (floor plans) in a given neighborhood. You will find other homes in your neighborhood that are of the same design. It’s up to you to individualize your home, especially its curb appeal.
New home subdivisions are typically built further away from cities. The rule of thumb is simple: the closer the land is to the city, the more the land costs to purchase and develop, and the more the homes there will cost. Homes built further out will cost less than a comparable new build closer in.
Unless you can afford a home closer in to town, you will have a longer commute to work, and in the Austin area, much more traffic to deal with daily.
The lot on which your home is built will likely be smaller than one you can find in an older resale neighborhood. Small yards fit the lifestyle of some homeowners, while others settle for the smaller yards because they cannot afford what they really would like to have.
New home communities do not have established landscaping. Usually a builder will provide some plants at the front of the home and two transplanted trees. Some offer sod (grass) in the front yard only, while others provide (as part of the cost) full sod and watering systems. It takes time for lawns, trees and shrubs to mature.
Unless you are represented by a Realtor® in the buying process, you will be at the mercy of the builder and its sales representative.