Home Canada Real Estate Buying a New Vs. an Older Home: What to Consider
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Buying a New Vs. an Older Home: What to Consider

by Point2 Editorial Staff
6 min. read

If you’re on the hunt for your dream home, you’ll find yourself faced with a myriad of choices. From how many bedrooms you’d like to the location you hope to call home soon, there’s a lot to think about. One key consideration, however, is whether you’ll buy a brand-new house or an older one.

Often, it’s a matter of personal preference and your specific circumstances. But, if you’ve not decided yet, it’s essential to take a look at the pros and cons of each. With that in mind, let’s take a look at four key things to consider when choosing between a newly-built house and an older one.

1. Costs and Fees

The cost per square foot is generally higher for brand-new homes compared to resales, but it’s not always as simple as that. While you may pay more for a new home, you can expect to pay less in renovation and maintenance costs and energy bills compared to an older home.

New builds are typically sold at a set price, with additional extras that can bump that price up. Meanwhile, you can normally negotiate the price of a resale, although this can work both for or against you, depending on the market.

Finally, if you buy a new home in Canada, you’ll be required to pay HST/GST (Harmonized Sales Tax and Goods and Services Tax). While this does add an additional cost, builders will often include it in the price of the home, allowing you to roll it into your mortgage repayments. However, in some cases, you’ll need to pay upfront. The good news is that there are rebates available. In the U.S., sales and other local taxes vary by location.

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2. The Logistics of Moving In

When you buy an older, resale home, you can set a move-in date that works for both you and the seller. However, if you’re buying a house that hasn’t been built yet, the move-in date is far more difficult to ascertain.

While you’ll be given an idea of when construction will see completion and you can move in, delays can and often do occur. From poor weather to a shortage of labor or materials, many factors can delay construction, potentially leaving you stuck in limbo.

3. Location Considerations

Choosing the Right Neighborhood

The driving force behind many homebuying decisions is location. Indeed, for many homebuyers, picking the right neighborhood for their needs is essential and can trump many other decisions. So, when choosing between an older home and a brand-new one, be sure to consider what you need from the neighborhood.

For example, older homes are typically found in established neighborhoods that are more likely to boast an array of amenities, such as public transit links, shops and entertainment venues. Older homes, particularly historic ones, are also more likely to be found near downtown areas, so if you crave the hustle and bustle, they’re a top choice.

Meanwhile, brand-new homes are often located in neighborhoods that are under development, typically in the suburbs. This usually means a generally longer commute to downtown and traditional employment hubs and a greater reliance on owning a vehicle to get around. However, they tend to feature wider streets, fewer above-ground utilities, and a more organized layout consisting of similar, if not identical, housing units.

The infrastructure may be lacking — particularly in brand-new developments, which can remain under construction for several years after you purchase your home — but upon completion, you can generally expect to find sophisticated and modern amenities nearby.

Everybody Needs Good Neighbors

When you choose your dream home, it’s important to know that you’ll be surrounded by neighbors you can relate to and feel safe among. As such, it’s worth bearing in mind that when you purchase a new build in a new neighborhood, the developers are often targeting a particular demographic. This ensures you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people, but it can also become a little monocultural.

In older, more established neighborhoods, there’s often a far more diverse array of people living in the area. Indeed, you can usually find homeowners, renters, retirees, families, students and young professionals all living on the same street.

old versus new apartment building

Image: Jule_Berlin / Shutterstock.com

Parking Needs

If you’re a two-vehicle family, it’s important to choose a home that can accommodate your parking needs. Generally speaking, modern homes are built with this in mind, and you’re more likely to find a place with a double garage or a larger driveway.

Meanwhile, older homes were often built at a time when cars weren’t so common, so parking amenities weren’t really taken into account. This can mean struggling to find street parking on narrow city streets, although this is by no means always the case.

4. House Considerations

Are You Prepared to Renovate Your New Home?

If you’re looking for a home you can move into and not worry about lifting a paintbrush, a brand-new house is the choice for you. You can rest assured that all the components are up to the latest legal standards and codes, and even if something does breakdown, it’ll be covered by warranty.

With an older home, you’ll be moving into a space with someone else’s stamp on it. As a result, you’ll probably at least want to redecorate and, in some cases, remodel certain rooms entirely. Whether you do this yourself or hire a pro, it’s an extra cost and additional time spent waiting for your new home to become yours truly.

Maintenance Costs

In most cases, a new home comes with zero maintenance costs, at least for the first few years. Every single component will be brand new and under warranty. In an older home, this isn’t the case, and you may come across things that haven’t been adequately maintained for years.

Carrying out a home inspection is essential if you want to avoid costly things like outdated wiring, damaged roofs and leaky plumbing. Even if everything is in relatively good shape, you’ll need to keep on top of regular maintenance tasks to ensure they stay that way.

Energy Consumption

When it comes to your energy bills, you can usually expect a new home to run more efficiently than an older one. It will typically have a modern HVAC system and insulation than an older home, resulting in lower bills. However, it’s not always the case, as plenty of recently renovated older homes can outperform modern houses in terms of energy consumption.

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Design and Floor Plans

When you purchase an older home, you basically get what you see in terms of the floor plan and design. And while you can often change things up, it can cost a lot of money and take a lot of time to create an open-plan home in a closed-plan house, for example.

With a new build, you can often specify the exact floor plan and design you’d like in advance. Even if you’re a fan of older styles, new homes can be built to match them, just fitted with all the mod cons.

Don’t Forget the Yard

In a new build, the yard will often be a blank canvas that you can do whatever you want with. While this offers a lot of possibilities, it’ll take a lot of time for your plants to reach the lofty heights of an established yard in an older home. In an older yard, you’ll often have mature plants and trees to work with, offering greater privacy and a more intimate space.

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