New Homes Compared to Existing (Used) Homes
First of all, let me say that every opinion is valid because people are free to think the way we see fit. In this article, I will discuss my personal opinion about new homes as compared to existing (used) homes.
When I first came to the US, I used to drive a 1980 Toyota Corolla. I did not pay much for the car, but on average, I spent about $300 every month on repairs. One month it was the alternator, then the starter, then the battery, the wires, etc. For a few years, I continued to own used vehicles and I had the same issues. Now I only buy new cars requiring low maintenance with a good warranty and better safety, comfort, fuel efficiency, improved technology, etc. The cost of repairs plus the opportunity cost of loss of time and use is just too much for used vehicles. I feel the same way about purchasing used phones, computers, appliances, tires, and clothes. I understand some people truly love classic cars and styles such as Victorians, Revivals or Colonials and pay a lot more for them than new ones. However, I feel grateful that I do not have to get used to avocado green appliances or have to scrub stained countertops or grease covered appliances any more (knock on wood).
Used homes are usually located in centralized, well-established neighborhoods whose yards are larger and have mature trees and more character. They may also be historic. However, buying a new home gives you access to enjoying a care-fee space with the latest designs, life styles, comfort, efficiency, technology and safety among other benefits as described below.
DESIGN & SPACE
New homes come with a modern look, wide open floor plans where large kitchens flow into large family rooms, larger and brighter master bedrooms and bathrooms, higher ceilings with lots of natural light, and theater rooms among other features. New homes also feature larger walk in closets, larger garages, more bathrooms, more windows, more storage and greater average living square footage than used homes. Standard new homes come in with built-in dishwashers, microwaves, refrigerators and sometimes wine coolers, washers and dryers.
New homes have lower monthly ownership costs since they normally include 1 to 10 years of warranty in many components. Used homes, however, often require extensive and expensive maintenance, just like the experience of Tom Hanks’ character in the movie The Money Pit. Buyers could end up having to replace the water heater, the AC unit, the roof, the furnace, kitchen appliances, doors, windows, flooring, or (God forbid), they may have to replace the plumbing, aluminum wiring or have to fix the foundation or resolve a termite, pest or mold problem.
New homes have lower utility bills because they incorporate cutting-edge high efficiency equipment, components and certifications including walls, ceilings, roofs, windows, doors, skylights, HVAC equipment and kitchen appliances. Constant building code upgrades require new homes to include high-performance, insulated, double pane windows, as compared to single-pane windows found in used homes built even as recently as 15 years ago. New homes have superior insulation (sometimes offering noise control), duct work and systems, which means that they are easier to cool and heat, and they provide better indoor air quality. Additionally, some new home builders offer manabloc home-run plumbing systems which save energy and water while providing comfort safety and convenience.
New homes today offer sophisticated wiring for smart, high-speed electronics, entertainment centers, communication equipment, programmable thermostats, security systems, smart keys, cameras, internet data, and USB charging outlets.
New homes are required to include many more hard-wired (backed by battery power) smoke and carbon monoxide detectors than used homes built only a few years back. In addition, new homes feature modern fire-retardant materials such as carpeting and insulation. New building codes (which constantly address consumer safety issues) require more electrical outlets, more arc-fault circuit breakers and GFCI outlets which make homes safer. Environmentally friendly coolants, cabinets, carpets and paints that use fewer volatile compounds allow for better air quality. On the flip side, used homes sometimes come with lead-based paint, tree roots that break sewer pipes, galvanized rusted pipes, and dangerous aluminum wiring among other potential health hazards.
FINANCING AND CLOSING COSTS
Most builders will pay buyers’ closing costs and will help with finding a lender who could tailor the loan with points to lower the monthly payment or reduce the down payment. Some builders will allow certain upgrades and customizations to be included in the 30-year mortgage.
New homes offer higher resale value, more community amenities (parks, schools, shopping, hiking or biking trails), the ability to choose colors and layouts, trendy updates, customization, and in some cities, better price per square foot than used homes.
As with a new car, my favorite features of a new home are the fresh smell, look and especially the feel of brand new! As you can see, the benefits of new homes often outweigh those of used homes for many people. This is why new homes are a key part of many families’ lives.
Sergio L. Cuartas