Is it better to buy a 10-15 year old house in a big s/d (Waterside/Danbury Park) or a new construction in a cluster subdivision (Crabapple Manor)?

Asked by marcywhitley, Roswell, GA Fri Jun 21, 2013

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Hank Miller’s answer
Hank Miller, Agent, Alpharetta, GA
Wed Jun 26, 2013
One thing that I wanted to add was the increase in newer "cluster" communities in the Crabapple area and how they are laid out. You mentioned this community, nice enough but a simple street with homes lined up like soldiers.

Many of the new communities going in are closer to the Crabapple activities, have more "walkability" both in an out of the community and are more visually appealing.

There are variables that will come up as you explore other ones.
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0 votes
Robert A Whi…, Agent, Roswell, GA
Fri Aug 2, 2013
The best way to answer such an open question is - it depends. You may like the cluster concept and layout - I personally think they are too tight and somewhat stiff looking. It is a personal choice.

I gave quite an extensive answer earlier, however, one of the most important aspects about buying any home are the decisions only you can make - "Does it suit my needs better than property or neighborhood X, and does it feel more like home".

Think about it - I can go in and verify the structure is sound and the construction is or isn't sloppy, and let you know the value trends, and help you submit an offer so the numbers are right for a great investment at a great price, but if you don't like the property none of that matters.

I can go on all day about the pros and cons of new construction technology, materials, and systems, over existing homes, and the pros and cons of existing homes with value added amenities like established landscaping, finished basement's, larger lots, and sometimes nicer upgrades than some new homes, but in the end it comes down to what feels like home to you.
0 votes
Robert A Whi…, Agent, Roswell, GA
Fri Jun 21, 2013
Good Question Marcy,

As someone who not only knows the ins and outs of buying new construction, but how to determine if that new construction is well built, or they are cutting corners and the home will have problems down the road, and, as someone who can walk into any home and tell you if there problems you should know about, which the home owner and listing agent have not disclosed (because they have no clue about these things), my answer will be tempered with a more comprehensive answer.

To a degree, this is a personal preference, but, the more you know BEFORE you act, the better position you will be in to make the best decision for YOU.

There are pros and cons for each type home as identified by either + or - :

New Homes:

+More energy efficient
+Newer roof and main systems HVAC etc - this will give you time before any major repairs are needed - HOWEVER, many existing homes have taken care of this, so it can be moot
+Attractive floor plans and you may be able to select colors and options
-New construction is almost always more expensive than a comparable existing home - and usually smaller sq ft
-Depending on price range less durable finish materials - lots of MDF as opposed to wood
-Lots are often but not always poorer - good buildable land is harder to find
-New home lots are getting smaller and smaller
-A cluster home will often be harder to sell in the future
-New home builder contracts can be extremely one sided in the builders favor - leaving you little latitude to address quality issues - the standard regarding workmanship is very vague and you agree to go by this definition! **There are many more clause than can greatly inconvenience you - like construction delays can be increased from 5 months to 1 year - and you agree to this!

Existing Home (10-15yrs)

+ Often come with extras that add value - such as nice homeowner upgrades superior to the original builders product: Granite Counters, Upgraded Lights, Better Appliances, Finished Basements -(a big value and sq ft bonus), covered or screened decks, etc
+ Established landscaping and upgraded landscaping installations
- Unless replaced, has older roof, HVAC etc - you can be hit with multiple $3 - $6K type repairs, depending on condition at purchase, in as little as 1-2 years to 5+ years. Unless you have an expert look at the house you won't know - most inspectors are either not qualified to provide this type analysis, or are reluctant to.

There are many more pros and cons, but the point is, you need an expert who is not opposed to telling you like it is, and of course who has the ability to tell it like it is, in order for you to make to make a fully informed and sound decision. Then you need someone who can help you move forward in the right way to make your decision come to fruition and turn out like you hoped it would.


Robert Whitfield
Professional Buyers Broker
New Home Construction Expert
ICC Code Certified Building Inspector
Advantage Realtors
Corporate Relocations | New Construction | Luxury & Investment Properties
0 votes
Katherine Mo…, Agent, Alpharetta, GA
Fri Jun 21, 2013
The market appeal for many buyers in the north Atlanta suburbs has depended on age, to a large extent. "The newer, the better" has been the motto for many, especially people coming from out of town. However, the buyer for a cluster home is going to be someone totally different than the person buying a traditional single family residence. So there will be a balance between newer but much smaller house/lot and getting more house/lot for your money and going a little older.

Obviously, at some point in time, new construction won't even be an option (already you can see this because you have to go to a cluster community), so you want to get the most for your money.

As others have mentioned previously, there are a lot of other factors to consider, and a great Realtor should be able to guide you through the decision process to find what's best for you.

Good luck!


Katherine L. Morrison, CRS
Team Realty Group
Alpharetta, GA
404-697-4626 direct
0 votes
Hank Miller, Agent, Alpharetta, GA
Fri Jun 21, 2013
Is it better to buy a Lincoln Navigator or a BMW M3? Two different animals as are the examples you pose.

If better means from a data standpoint, that can be answered by a thorough review of the last several years, trends in the area, buyer demographics, etc etc etc

If better means for you, well only you can answer that.

Just remember, buying a home is like getting married - easy in but can be very difficult getting out…

Tear up the data, think about when it's time to sell before you buy, think about what you need over the years and above all - understand the process, the data and the carefully consider the positives AND negatives of any purchase.

You might find the data on our site helpful - it's just the start of what we do:
Web Reference:
0 votes
Isabel Elses…, Agent, Alpharetta, GA
Fri Jun 21, 2013
A 10-15 year old home will give you more space and land than the cluster home.
Keep in mind with the older home you may have to replace a few major conponents.
But definitely something to think about.

Isabel Elsesser, Realtor
First United Realty
Save Time & Money!
Direct 770-307-8751
Fax 888-799-3184
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0 votes
, ,
Fri Jun 21, 2013
That is such a personal choice. All the subdivisions you mentioned are great choices. You need to decide what's most important for you and your family. If I can help in any way please let me know. I live in the area and know it well.
Siobhan Schaeffer
Solid Source Realty
0 votes
Rick Payne As…, Agent, Norcross, GA
Fri Jun 21, 2013
Good Morning,

That's your personal choice. However, if you're asking about an investment point of view then you need to do your own due diligence with an agent.

Have a Good Day,

Rick Payne
Keller Williams Realty
0 votes
Gary Geer, Agent, Antioch, IL
Fri Jun 21, 2013

That depends what is important to you. You may find that the annual real estate tax is lower on the existing property.
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Fred Yancy, Agent, Woodstock, GA
Fri Jun 21, 2013
Marcy this is such a personalize choice that there is no way for me to answer you. If you asked my wife, she would prefer a home built pre-1900. Is that what others would choose - no. My choice is new construction but that is not for everyone either. You have to decide what is important to you and trust your gut to what you like and what would make you happy.
0 votes
Lee Taylor, Agent, Decatur, GA
Fri Jun 21, 2013
Is "it" better?

Define "it."

Only you can do that - value is value. You are the arbiter.
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