Pros and cons of buying a new or an existing home

Updated September 7, 2018 - 6:24 pm

Even with a modest increase lately in the number of homes on the market, the local housing supply is still tight and has more potential buyers looking at new homes.

Chris Bishop, 2018 president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors, said the choice between buying a new or an existing home ultimately comes down to personal preferences. First of all, the longtime local Realtor said, would-be buyers should understand that no home is perfect. On the other hand, new homes do have some obvious advantages because no one has lived in the house.

With help from a recent article in Realtor Magazine, he shared some pros and cons of buying a new or an existing home.

PROS TO BUYING NEW

1. Less wear and tear. Buyers of new construction can expect fewer imperfections. Terrylynn Fisher, CRS, GRI, a professional stager and associate broker with Dudum Real Estate Group in Walnut Creek, California, made this point in an interview with Realtor Magazine. She said scratched floors and cracks in walls, for example, are more common in resale homes than new ones. Finishes and design flourishes in new homes may also be more colorful because they are untouched.

2. Built-in technology. While many homeowners have been slow to adopt smart-home technology, developers are jumping on the bandwagon more quickly and incorporating smart features into their projects, added Sce Pike, founder and CEO of an Oregon-based software company called IOTAS. Smart door locks and thermostats are among the most popular products developers request, but some are eyeing more comprehensive packages that include smart humidity sensors and the ability to control access to a home remotely, Pike said in the article.

3. It’s a blank canvas. Fisher said buyers may feel more like they are designing a home specifically for them when starting from scratch with a brand-new home. Bishop said this is a significant factor for many new homebuyers. Though resale buyers also have opportunities to make a home their own, they may not feel complete ownership of its style because they’re either adding to, changing or covering up the previous owner’s sense of style, said Christine Rae, founder of the Certified Staging Professionals International Business Training Academy.

CONS TO BUYING NEW

1. Flaws due to building shortcuts. If builders take shortcuts in the construction process to cut costs that can result in blemishes in the home. Fisher said one of her buyers recently bought a new home and discovered about six aesthetic problems that were caused during construction, including an unsightly gap at the top of a shower that made the framing behind the wall visible.

2. Style over functionality. Bishop pointed out that today’s new homes often offer more square feet than an average resale home in Southern Nevada. Many builders are focused on more modern designs and open floor plans, which the article called “a top priority for today’s buyers.” But as Rae added, that often requires sacrificing storage space. To create more open space, builders often have to decrease the size of closets and other areas of the home designed for storage.

“That can be problematic for meeting the needs of buyers who envision purchasing a long-term residence,” the article added.

3. Incomplete curb appeal. According to Realtor Magazine, many builders put much of their effort and investment into the front of the house “so it looks good to potential buyers driving by.” But they’ll sometimes leave the backyard unattended to, Fisher said. Many new homebuyers may have to assume all the costs of backyard landscaping, as well as planting trees and other shrubbery. Buyers should keep such expenses in mind when looking at a new home, Bishop added.

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