For those who are looking for their dream home, one of the big questions is whether to buy one that's already on the market or build their own. Considering that a home is usually the single largest investment a person can make, it's not a decision that should be made lightly. I want to offer you a few of the bigger considerations to help you make the best educated decision you can.
Consider the Convenience
Purchasing a home that's already built is generally a much simpler process. After you get pre-approved for a home in your price range, you have the ability to shop around and pick out a home you think will work for you. If you have a good realtor working for you, it really helps to streamline the process, and once the deal is closed, it may only be a few weeks before you can move in.
On the other hand, building a home is not quite so simple. Obtaining a construction loan can be more difficult than a traditional mortgage, and it may not be approved until the building permits are secured. There is also the additional inconvenience and cost of paying for another place to live for the months that construction is underway. However, you could also look through some of the listings of homes that are already under construction, where the heavy lifting has been done, allowing you to put your finished touches on the design to make it your own.
Consider the Cost
According to the National Association of Home Builders, it is usually less expensive to buy an existing house than to build a new one, however, that is not always the case. It's true that new homes have the addition of the builders' profits, materials are generally more expensive than when older homes were built, land could cost as much as an existing home, and there may be new codes that call for new permits. Nevertheless, if you're working with local suppliers, you can get a builder's discount when you order materials in bulk, and there are other costs to consider beyond just the upfront costs.
Mull Over the Maintenance
The best thing about building your own home is that nothing needs fixing, and you're pretty much guaranteed to not have to replace anything within the next decade or so. Unfortunately, not the same can be said about an existing home. Often, they will require renovations before you move in, which add to the upfront costs, and within a few years, the plumbing, air conditioning, roof, or other aspects of the home could call for other unseen costs.
Energy Efficiency is Excellent
Another great perk to building a new home is energy efficiency. New homes must be built to new energy codes, and while they do cost more initially, better efficiency for heating, ventilation, cooling, air filtration, and insulation does save money on your power bill, and is better for the environment in the long run. Building your own home also ensures that you won't be subject to the lead paint, asbestos, or mold that often plague existing homes, which is better for your health.
Lots of Landscaping
Generally, existing homes already have mature landscaping while a home you build will need a lawn, gardens, shrubs, and whatever else you'd like to add. However, if you're really building your dream home, this gives you a clean slate on which to start, helping to design your property the way you would like instead of how the previous owner (or owners) thought things should be.
Location, Location, Location
It's often said that location is the most important thing in real estate, and if you're looking to build your own home, finding a plot of land in the place you'd like to live may be more of a challenge. If you have a certain neighborhood in mind, there may not be an appropriate plot available. However, if you have some flexibility, and you're open to the commute to work or taking kids to school, building your own home in a neighborhood you've not yet considered could be a viable option.
The Appreciation Aspect
With an existing home, you usually have a context as to what homes are selling for and how the market is rising based on the other homes in the neighborhood, which could give you an idea of what the market will be like for your home in the future. If you're building a new home, that aspect could be more difficult to gauge, however, newer homes with updated amenities are often a better way to recoup your investment.
How Much Is Your Dream House Worth to You?
Ultimately, you have to ask yourself what is really important to you about your new home. Building your new home affords you the opportunity to decide upon the floor plan, the amenities, the layout, and all the custom features that mean the most to you. With an existing home, you're sometimes faced with limitations that just won't make you happy.
I hope this has given you some food for thought. Whenever you're ready to look for an existing home or property to build on, I hope I can be of further assistance. If you’d like to explore some of the homes currently under construction in the hopes of implementing some of your own changes, you can look through some of the listings here and contact me when you’d like to go for a tour of possibilities.
Sarasota Area Real Estate Specialist
Sarasota Area Real Estate Specialist