Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Should Your First Home Purchase Be a New Home or an Older One?

You are shopping for your first home and weighing the pros and cons of every property you look at. You may have noticed that all of the homes whether they are single family houses, condos or townhomes, all fall into two basic categories, new construction and older construction. Deciding whether to buy a brand new home or one that has some age on it is a difficult decision for any home buyer but is even harder for someone who does not have any prior experience in owning a home. While there is no right or wrong answer to this question here are some things to consider when making your decision.

New Home

Everyone loves a new home because, well, it's new. The plastic wrap is still on the appliances, the paint is fresh, the carpets are pristine and it has that new home smell. But lurking beneath that pretty exterior is a host of problems that are as of yet, unknown. Every house, no matter how well built, is going to have maintenance issues. It could be a cranky air conditioner or a leak in the plumbing or cracks that form in the foundation over time. The problem is, with a new home, you just don't know what these problems will be. When you purchase a new home you get all of the benefits of buying new, buy you also become the guinea pigs for breaking in the house. Since the house has no maintenance history whatsoever you will be the one writing that history. This could end up being a very expensive book to write.

While some of the items that break down may be under warranty initially it still costs you time and aggravation to call up the contractor or maintenance company, file a claim and wait to get the problem fixed, then hope it can be fixed without causing too much interference in your daily life. Knowing your air conditioner is under warranty and won't cost you any money to have it fixed is great, but that doesn't help when it's 32ÂșC and you are told it will take a week to get someone out to look at it. When you buy a new home you are rolling the dice and hoping the maintenance issues will be minor.

Old Home

Many people buy older homes because they prefer the "charm" an older home possesses. It normally resides on a more developed street with a variety of architectural styles present and is in an established neighborhood with social services likes parks, shopping and transportation. These are all great reasons to buy an older home. Another great reason is an older home has an established track record of maintenance issues. In other words, the previous owners were the guinea pigs and the house has already shared it's secrets as to what things tend to go wrong with it. While it may not have that new house smell and all the frills, it does have some security in knowing what to expect when you live in it. If the seller tells you that before every winter the heating unit needs to be serviced or it will most likely breakdown, then you know what to do to prevent a serious maintenance issue and, more importantly, can budget for that expense every year.

I like to use the example of buying a new car versus an old car. Everyone loves a new car. The emotionally uplifting feeling you get when you put that first kilometer on the car can't be beat. But finding out that the car has a troublesome engine part that needs constant maintenance can put a quick damper on that enthusiasm. Whereas an older car may not give you that same euphoria when you first drive it, odds are the maintenance issues have all been identified and fixed and all you need to do is keep an eye on them. The same is true when deciding whether to buy a new or old home, there's nothing wrong with either option, just points to consider for each.

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