New or Old?

2015/10/tm1605122-1011-200x300.jpgWhen it comes to buying a house in Middle TN, almost the first thing most of us do is to check the online listings to see what’s out there that catches our eye. That quick first look will usually reflect some preferences most of us don’t even bother to think about (that is, until we’re buying a house).
Sometimes they stem from our earliest childhood memories—the impressions that shape what ‘home’ should look like. Sometimes, those preferences have developed over time as an expression of our personal style. One preference can be a real trouble-maker if a couple discovers that their outlooks don’t match. It’s the one about which kind of home is more appealing: a brand new one (actually, the National Association of Home Builders defines a “new” home as one less than four years old) or an older, established home.
People who automatically tilt toward new homes can be following straightforward reasoning that goes without question. They don’t shop for used clothing; they know when they need another automobile they’re only interested in the newest model—so why in the world would they be drawn to a house that’s a hand-me-down?
People on the other side of the preference divide find new constructions lacking in the warmth and history an older home embodies. Out in the yard, they see fresh cement walkways and new plantings as pale imitations of the majesty of the grand, mature landscaping found in well-established neighborhoods.
However, I’ve often found that when my clients are buying a house in Middle TN, their new vs. established home leaning will sometimes disappear in the face of some immediate practical advantages. A few points:
More than 70% of single-family homes were built prior to 1990, according to Realty Trac. The result is more than twice the variety from which to choose.
Older, established properties are synonymous with close-knit communities where residents know one another and their children. Buying a house in such a neighborhood can mean great support and community.
New developments can create a fresh gathering spot for families who are all starting out together. The opportunity to build new institutions shaped to modern preferences can mean the establishment of a host of lasting friendships, in some cases bolstered by shared community recreational facilities.
Older homes can have larger lot sizes owing to lower land prices in the past. Then there are those shade trees that have been growing for generations…
Most new homes have been designed to accommodate our modern addiction to acquiring stuff. If a walk-in closet in a must, an older house is less likely to fill the bill.
Older homes are generally more expensive to maintain. According to the American Housing Survey, 26% of owners of older homes spent more than $100 a month on upkeep—while just 11% of the owners of new homes spent as much. In fact, 73% of the new home owners spend less than $25 a month for maintenance.
Ultimately the decision to buy an old or new house will come down to a combination of personal taste (“I don’t care: I love this house!”) and/or requirements (“I can’t live without _________”).
The takeaway: if you are planning on buying a house, don’t automatically eliminate all the new ones or all the older ones. Give me a call: let’s take a look!