In some parts of the country, new home developments pop up like weeds, and the options to choose from are endles. In contrast, new contruction in the Seattle and Eastside areas tend to be either tiny pockets of new construction, or spot homes tucked away on isolated single lots. First and foremost, you should decide where you want to live–there’s truth in the saying, “location, location, location,” and after that, consider the pro’s and con’s to existing and new construction.
- Without a doubt, if you’re looking at existing homes, there will be more to choose from in any general area you are interested in.
- More competition also means competitive pricing.
- The maintenance and upkeep costs for your home could be higher over the near term, depending upon the age of your home. For example, cedar shake roofs may need replacement around the 20 year old mark, so you may have to consider replacement costs much sooner than you would in new construction.
- Existing homes will likely require some upgrades or remodeling to customize the appearance to your liking. Different strokes for different folks!
- However, previous homeowners may have already upgraded features or added amenities/infrastructure to the home, for you to enjoy. Sports courts, decks, hot tubs, or new bathroom fixtures, may already be in place for your use.
- Landscaping will likely be established.
- The choices are limited–availability of new construction not near as abundant as existing homes, and the locations may not be as close in proximity to desireable areas, due to existing housing. (The exception of course, is in downtown areas, where new construction is upward instead of outward.)
- Cost is typically higher than existing homes in the same area.
- There are lower upkeep and maintenance costs for the near term–no need to worry about a new roof, new paint, new water heaters, etc.
- The home and appliances should be covered by warranty.
- May require intial start-up costs for landscaping.
- If purchased early enough, there may be time to customize certain house options or floorplans to your preference.
- The lot sizes may be smaller than those of existing properties. I’ve seen this quite frequently as builders try to subdivide a large area into as many separate lots as possible to maximize their return.
- Price negotiation may be more flexible with a builder, who has a broader range of negotiation. Not only can you haggle about price, but financing and upgrades can also be part of the equation.
If in the end, you decide that new construction is the way to go, Debra Sinick of the Eastside Real Estate Buzz suggests:
- Pick the best of the lot because you make your profit the day you buy your home. Unlike driving a new car off the lot which immediately depreciates, your home can appreciate or depreciate based on the market conditions AND the choice you make.
- Purchase from a known builder with a proven track record.
- Negotiate on pricing and/or upgrades. The sales price will be a business decision to the builder, so don’t hesitate to make an aggressive offer. If the price doesn’t work, the builder will counter the offer.
For more tips and the complete list, read Debra’s Top Ten Ways to Get a Deal Buying New Construction Homes in Today’s Market.