Old House or New House: Which is Right for You?

Head shot of Mary Allen Author - Mary Allen
READING TIME 4 MINUTES

If you’ve been struggling with the decision of whether or not to purchase an old house or new house, here is how to find which one is right for you.

two houses next to each other

The following is an excerpt from Local Real Estate News.

My fiancé and I are searching for our new dream home in a central metropolitan area. Over the past few months, we have been struggling with the decision of whether or not we should purchase an old house or new house. I love the charm of the older homes in the area, but I’m not sure if they hold as much value as a new home would. From your experience, would you say that an older home could be worth as much as a home that was recently built?

Sandy Q.

Dear Sandy,

This is often a question we hear when buyers, like yourself, are interested in centralized properties. So, let’s jump straight into the new house or old house debate.

Pros of Buying an Old House

If you’re looking for beautiful architecture, mature landscaping, lower upfront costs, and a more centralized location, an older house just might be for you. Let’s take a look.

Architecture

Many older homes offer a certain charm and elegance that newer builds lack. Turn-of-the-century homes, Victorians, Colonials, and Tudors are just a few of the architectural styles that today’s home builders hesitate to replicate. It’s far more time and cost-efficient for builders to construct cookie-cutter homes. If the architectural character is near the top of your must-have list then an older home might be right for you.

Mature Landscaping

Land used to be more affordable in ye old olden days so older homes often come with larger yards than new builds. It’s common to find that many years, much effort, and 10’s of thousands of dollars have already been put into the landscaping of an older home by previous owners. A beautiful yard that you didn’t have to do: what more could you want?

Centralized Location

Older homes tend to be bigger, more centrally located, closer to downtown, and in stronger communities making them less likely to undergo zoning changes.

It makes sense when you think about it. Families used to only have one car and before the time of cars, people used their own two feet to get around (or a horse’s four hooves!). Everyone built as close to town as possible to keep close to amenities like the post office or corner store. As the population grew, people had no choice but to build farther away.

Lower Cost

You may pay for the charm and elegance but these old, unique homes cost much less than new builds on average and offer homeownership opportunities to those who can’t afford new builds with the skyrocketing lumber prices.

Cons of Buying an Old House

Buying an older house isn’t all roses though. An older home is more likely to have big-ticket maintenance expenses sooner than a new build, as well as increased utility costs, and an outdated interior style.

Maintenance Costs

With older homes come older materials, so expect to budget for a few maintenance costs. Be sure to have a home inspection done that checks out the big-ticket maintenance expenses like windows, roof, siding, and HVAC so you aren’t surprised with a massive bill a month after you bought the home.

Utility Costs

Speaking of windows, a lot of the materials used during home construction have improved. Double-paned windows and increased insulation allow a home to better retain heat or air depending on the season. If your old build home has single-paned windows expect a higher heating bill come this winter.

Style

In an aged home, you rely largely on the previous resident’s tastes and technological whims, unless you plan to farm thousands into a remodeling. A new build often has an open floor plan while older homes reflect the needs of the time it was built by offering smaller, more separate spaces.

Pros of Buying a New House

Many people consider a new build more valuable because there should be no major expenses in the first few years of ownership and the utilities should be lower thanks to energy-efficient building materials.

Delayed Major Maintenance Costs

New homes mean new water heater, new roof, new windows, new appliances, new everything. Which, hopefully, means that the homeowner can avoid those hefty maintenance expenses for a while those who purchase older homes can usually expect to fork out some serious coin for, say, a new roof.

Energy Efficiency

Homes are better insulated than they’ve ever been and that’s resulted in lower utility bills for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. Double-paned windows help prevent the escape of air as well leaving new build homeowners sighing in relief.

Larger Living Spaces

In a new house, modern features like media rooms, large closets, and extra-large bathrooms are more attainable. More electric outlets are built into a new home in more convenient locations as society becomes increasingly dependent on electrical energy.

Cons of Buying a New House

Smaller Outdoor Space

As the price of land increases, the outdoor space that comes with a home decreases. If you’re looking for a big backyard for your pup to run around in, a new build may not be for you.

Less Centralized

Newer builds are often much less centralized than older homes. As more homes are built, there is less space to build on in town. There is no choice but to build farther and farther out.

Higher Upfront Costs

A new house means higher upfront costs. You won’t have to replace that new roof for a few years but you will have to pay for that privilege. Major maintenance costs are delayed for now because you’re buying everything new.

The Bottom Line of New House or Old House: Value is in the Eye of the Beholder.

The truth of the matter is that the value is in the eye of the beholder. We recommend making your must-have list and your wants list then matching them to the homes you’re looking at and your budget. An older home that needs a little TLC might be more attainable than a newer home, or a new build might be the move-in ready place you need. Your housing needs are unique and only you can pick the home that is right for you. If you’re curious about which part of the population is buying old or new houses, check out the trends here.

If you have any additional questions about the values of your home, we are always happy to have a chat free from obligation. Just give us a call at 614-888-6100.