Drive into the suburbs of any large city and you’ll find new housing developments under construction. Obviously, new construction is popular to many. But most people buy an existing home — one that someone else has lived in and wants to sell. Did you know that there are pros and cons of buying an older home?
There are good reasons to buy an existing home, but also some risks to consider. If you’re not sure whether buying an existing home is right for you, consider these pros and cons before you make your decision.
The Positive Aspects of Buying an Older Home…
There are many potential benefits of purchasing a pre-existing home, including:
- Greater personality and character. While new housing developments stress common design, older homes have their own unique look and feel. They sit soundly on tree-lined streets in established neighborhoods, which are usually more eclectic than new housing developments. Even if not considered “historic,” there is a sense of history — of lives being lived and lessons being learned.
- Likely lower cost. In general, an older home will cost less than a new home of the same size in the same area. (Obviously this depends on the condition and location of the home.) You will also usually have more room for negotiation with prior owners than you will with a homebuilder.
- Faster move-in than new construction. It takes months to build a new home, and that can be problematic, particularly if you’re also trying to sell your current home. Do you really want to live in an apartment for 6 months with your belongings in storage? Buying a home from an eager seller who’s ready to move on means you will be settling in more quickly.
- Better location. Most new construction happens in the suburbs, far from the heart of the city, in neighborhoods without established conveniences like restaurants and shops. Buying an existing home usually means you have easy access to food, entertainment, and daily necessities. You will also have better access to more of your community.
- More choice. The market for existing homes will offer you more options to choose from than new construction. Houses will vary in age, style, and features. With a little treasure hunt, you may find just the right home for you and your family.
…And the Negative
Buying an older home comes with its down sides, such as:
- Higher cost of upkeep. Older homes come with older systems and appliances — all of which can fail. Their older windows, roofing, and insulation make them less energy efficient than new homes. An older home often leads to expensive repairs and higher utility bills.
- The expense to remodel. Older homes often lack the modern look and conveniences homebuyers want, like an open floor plan with large closets and bathrooms. Appliances are usually dated, as are the carpet, wall-coverings, and fixtures. Even worse, old plumbing, wiring, and heating systems may not comply with current building codes. Renovation can be expensive, depending on its scope.
- Large tree roots. Those beautiful, old, towering trees have to grow thick, long roots to keep them grounded. If too close to the home’s foundation, they can cause significant foundation issues and damage to plumbing systems, all of which are costly to fix.
- Some ills just can’t be cured. That squeaky stair you once found charming can ultimately wear on your patience. The normal wear and tear a home experiences through multiple owners may lead to a host of small issues that add up to major frustration.
- The ghosts of owners past. You’ll discover traces of them for years as you peek into cabinet corners and under appliances. Bottom line, it’s just not “new.” But that’s what you wanted, right?
In 2015, more than 5 million existing homes were sold in the U.S. If you’re in the market for a pre-existing home this year, consider these pros and cons, and make sure to have it inspected by a certified home inspector. Here are 13 questions you should ask when selecting the best inspector for you.