Should we buy new or older?

Asked by HomeBuyer, Virginia Sun Dec 9, 2007

fWe have been searching for a home to purchase. We are month to month on our lease and waiting for the rightit at the best price. We have looked at new construction as well as townhomes built in the 80's and early 90's. Which would be a better investment? A new townhouse or a bit older one that we could put our own upgrades in?

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Duke Hayes, Agent, Vancouver, WA
Sun Dec 9, 2007
These are great answers and just to add a thought. When buying an older home you have a chance to see the neighborhood and how it has matured. Not to say that it will stay that way but there is a precedence set. Just my $.02..

Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas...

2 votes
Ed, Home Buyer, 20176
Sun Dec 16, 2007
I noticed your zip code, and my best advice is to watch closely which neighborhood you pick. There are some really nice ones, and some really crummy ones in 22191. As someone who lived in that area for 3 years, I think that almost as a rule, you're going to wind up with a better neighborhood environment in the newer areas. The older neighborhoods (15-30 years old) have really deteriorated in that zip code, especially with the recent market crash in Woodbridge. You might get a similar house in terms of size and specs, but I would definately go for the new.......even if it costs a little more, solely for the quality of the neighborhood.
1 vote
Sylvia Barry,…, Agent, Marin, CA
Sun Dec 9, 2007

First you need to look at the location of the property. A new home in a not so desirable location is definitely not better than an older home in a desirable location.

If they are all in the same location, then it might be a case by case situation. You will need to look at how old the older property is, does it have good bones, whether it has good floor plan which might not be easy to change. Will the update to the older home bring more value to you than the new home? If you prefer certain features, are those available in the older design as well as newer design? - for example, older design might not have the open floor plan, vaulted ceilings, over sized bathrooms, etc, which will need more extensive remodel, and thus more expense.

I am not sure about Virginia, but for where I am in Marin, a older single family home is usually more desirable than a newer town home.

So I think the answer is not a one size fits all, but depends on the properties you are considering. I would suggest a good Realtor in your area who understand your market condition and what the homeowners prefer to have, the Realtor will be able to give you a much better suggestion depending on the house and the new development you are interested in.

1 vote
Dave Woodman, Agent, Lake Ridge, VA
Tue Mar 29, 2011
Buy what suits your needs and your budget. Location is always important and the value you receive for the price you pay. If you can find an existing property that meets all of your needs you can probably save on the price. An established neighborhood can have some major advantages in terms of construction noise, dust, and dirt. A feel has already been established for you to enjoy immediately, but it may not have all of the most updated conveniences of the new homes. Decide what is most important to you.
0 votes
Charles Farl…, Home Buyer, Chantilly, VA
Sat Dec 15, 2007
From what I've read, you should be able to get a better deal from a new home builder. They've got tons of inventory that they need to clear. Some have been trying to prop up prices with BMW leases and other frivolous junk at marked up prices, but go for lower price. If you are looking at used houses, I'd try to find ones where the people have been in them for 7 years or more. If you find one for sale that was purchased 3 years ago or something, they are going to want more than they paid or what they paid, and that seems wrong at this point. The downside to new construction is over the past few years, all of these houses built in a rush to cash in at the peak of the mania.... who knows if they will last the life of the mortgage.
0 votes
Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Tue Dec 11, 2007
There's lots of good advice here. Just a couple of additional suggestions: If you've been searching, and have looked at both new and existing construction, you probably already have some idea of whether you "need" new construction or whether something a bit older will work. Some people absolutely demand granite countertops, the big whirlpool bath, etc. Fine. Buy new. Others may want more established communities, or a location that already has been built out. Fine. Buy existing.

But that's kind of dancing around your question. You asked about which would be a "better investment." Two answers to that: it depends on the motivation of the builder (regarding incentives and upgrades) and the motivation of the seller of the existing home. A highly motivated seller is likely to offer the best value. (Assuming they didn't buy 2 years ago at the top of the market with an option ARM that they can't afford. In that case, it's likely they're upside down--owe more than the house is worth--and so can't discount the house sufficiently. But that's another story.)

Second answer: Bluntly, who cares? You're not an investor. You're not buying an investment property. You're buying a house to live in. No, you don't want to overpay. But you're going to be living there awhile--average is something like 5 years. Pick a place that makes you happy. Close to good schools, if that's important. Close to shopping, if that's important. Close to work, if that's important. One with a patio, if that's important. One with a his-and-her bath, if that's important.

Bluntly, again, you're not investors. And, heaven forbid, in today's market I hope you aren't speculators. There are ways to buy low and sell not-so-low, but that's not your game. Take a look around at all those foreclosures. A lot of them are the result of people who thought they were "investing"--at the peak of the market, overpaying, and financing it all with terrible loan products. Find something that works for you. Be happy.

Don Tepper
Realtor: Long & Foster
0 votes
Danilo Bogda…, Agent, Reston, VA
Sun Dec 9, 2007
The percentage appreciation is the same across the board within a specific area whether buying new or old. As far as an investment, there's really no difference.

You'll pay more for new, but you'll get new with less things to change/improve/fix in the near to mid term. You'll pay less for an existing home, but you typically won't the "latest and greatest" and you may have to replace appliances, etc., within a few years.

If you go new, definitely try and buy a spec. If you would like to negotiate the most you can from the builder, let me know. About 40 percent of my buy-side transactions are new construction and have gone through this many a times before. I also know of offers/incentives available that aren't shared with the general public.
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Cindy Maves, Agent, Fort Myers, FL
Sun Dec 9, 2007
Many people when buying their first home prefer to buy new as they can pick out exactly what they want in a floor plan and options. Builders are offering many incentives on buying a new home right now, such as finished basements, fireplaces, help with closing costs. On the other hand you may find a older home that you can negotiate a great price on that hasn't been updated. You then need to factor in what the cost of making those upgrades will be. Do you have money set aside for that, or will you need to take an additional loan? Another consideration is can you live with the house the way it is, until you can afford to fix it up the way you want. or do you have to have it finished before you move in?
Look at where the best location is for you, and where you can plan to live for at least five years. If there are older single family homes in the same price range as the newer towhomes and you are handy and can do some of the work, you may want to consider buying one of those.

Good luck on buying your first home!
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