Should You Buy an Old House Versus New?

Thinking of buying a new home?

There are plenty of decisions that you have to make, including whether to buy resale or purchase brand-new construction. There are pros and cons to both, and depending on how these stack up, they could influence your choice on whether to go for an older home versus new construction.

Both old and new construction offers specific benefits. At the end of the day, the answer to which type of home to buy will come down to your personal preference. Regardless, it’s still helpful to understand the pros and cons of buying new versus old in order to ensure you make the right decision for you.

Turn-Key Versus TLC

There are some obvious perks to buying a brand new home; namely, everything is new. There’s really nothing to do to the home except furnish and decorate it. On the other hand, buying an older home will probably require a little elbow grease and some extra money to improve the place up to your standards. Unless the home has been completely gutted and renovated by the sellers before you took possession, buying an older home may require a little work.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. By investing a little sweat equity into the property, you can quickly add value and equity in the home and make it worth a lot more than it was when you first bought it.

In fact, real estate agents often advise their buyer clients to buy the worst home on the best street. That way you can ensure value in the home because of its desirable location without having to pay a premium for a property that’s already in immaculate shape.

It should also be noted that new homes purchased from builders will still require some work. For instance, you’ll likely be responsible for putting up a fence and hanging window blinds, since these are typically not provided by builders. So in essence, new home construction is not necessarily entirely turn-key.

New Versus Old Materials

When you buy an older home, you’re essentially buying older materials. Every component of a home has a specific shelf live. Nothing lasts forever. And the older the components are, the sooner you’ll have to repair or replace them.

In contrast, a new home is just that: new. All materials are brand new and shouldn’t have to be dealt with for a long time after you move in. A brand-new roof, HVAC system, and appliances mean you shouldn’t have to worry about these components for a long time.

If you’re looking for a home that’s not going to bog you down with repairs and maintenance, then a new home might be more up your alley.

But if you choose to go with an older home, make sure you have a home inspection done. This will not only help you renegotiate a lower price if necessary, but it will also let you know if there are any issues in the home that will need to be fixed and how much work and money would be involved to bring the home up to par.

Modern Versus Classic Design

There are certain characteristics in older homes that you just don’t see in new home construction. Things like crown molding, original hardwood flooring, or even stained-glass windows are features that new homes might try to mimic, but aren’t necessarily successful in capturing the true vintage and classic feel that many older homes provide.

But the flip side to this is that brand-new homes provide the most innovative materials, layouts, and designs, such as open concepts, wide hallways and staircases, and master ensuite bathrooms. Depending on your exact tastes and needs, this could be the tipping point of your decision.

Established Versus Bare-Bones Neighborhoods

Older homes tend to be located in neighborhoods that are already established. They’ll already have all the infrastructure, amenities, and even the greenery that many homebuyers are looking for to make home life more convenient. Older homes are more often located closer to city centers and require less travel to get to and from work and other amenities.

You probably won’t have the type of mature trees surrounding a brand new home in a new subdivision that you would with a resale property. And you’d likely be looking at suburbs outside of the city when considering a new subdivision.


Generally speaking, resale homes are usually less expensive on a square foot basis, though there are certainly exceptions to the rule. Newer homes are typically more expensive per square foot, and their prices are set by builders who usually do not like to negotiate with buyers, unlike resale sellers.

Move-in Date

When you buy a resale home, you’ll have a precise date in which you’ll be able to move all your things in. The closing date in your contract will guarantee that the home will be vacated by the seller and ready for you to take over.

But new construction isn’t so clear-cut with move-in dates. While builders give buyers a tentative completion date, delays can and do occur which can push out the completion date. This can happen a few times before the home is finally ready, which can make scheduling your move very difficult.

The Bottom Line

There’s really no right or wrong answer when it comes to which type of home is the better option. Both resale and new construction certainly have their perks, but they each have their downfalls as well. Be sure to carefully consider both options and let your real estate agent offer you some advice on which direction you may want to head in.