To Build or Not to Build


Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Building a home—versus buying a pre-existing one—has never been a more viable option for buyers still hoping to take advantage of reduced housing prices and historically low interest rates.

On the one hand, today’s threadbare inventory of existing homes means that buyers must act swiftly when they find a home that fulfills the majority of their purchasing preferences. Even then, they could easily find themselves competing against other buyers with similar designs on the property.

 Buying new, on the other hand, offers its own set of challenges. Gone are the days—at least for now—when builders offered a variety of move-in-ready models. Instead, buyers must forego instant gratification in exchange for a home that will largely be built to their own specific tastes and preferences—but subject to the builder’s timetable. Builders are also taking advantage of reduced land costs to keep the finished price as competitive as possible with existing homes.

In the end, it all comes down to taste and timing. When buyer’s don’t actually need a home for immediate occupancy, many are opting to paint on a fresh canvas, where the home and its component parts are all brand new, up to code, reflective of personal design preferences; and won’t require more than routine maintenance for years to come.

On the flip side, many buyers prefer a vintage home in a well-established community, where the neighborhood’s character and cachet has long since been determined. A third choice—that of building on a vacant parcel in an established neighborhood—offers the best of both worlds.

Here are some additional differences between building new and buying an existing home. Your agent from Michael Saunders & Company can help you weigh which option works best for you: 

  • From the outside, new communities often have a certain homogenous look that may not reflect an owner’s individuality, until you step inside the home. Conversely, vintage homes in established neighborhoods look distinct from one another on the outside, but may require significant time and resources for the inside to reflect your own personal style.
  • Rather than having to redecorate an existing home, a new one features all the finishes, appliances and upgrades you’ve personally chosen during the design stage.  While new homes typically cost more per square foot, buyers of existing homes often make up the difference in renovation expenses. Moreover, new homes are typically more energy efficient than older ones.
  • New homes usually offer greater protection against problems or defects. Most are backed with a one-year warranty on new appliances and a 10-year warranty against structural defects.
  • New communities typically impose mandatory homeowner association membership and fees. In addition to routine maintenance, these fees underwrite desirable community amenities—such as a pool, clubhouse, playground and nature trails—that older neighborhoods usually don’t offer. Still, the mature beauty of an older neighborhood is an amenity unto itself.
  • New homes typically comply with all current building codes, making them more impervious to extremes of inclement weather. As such, most have improved insulation, higher efficiency heating and cooling systems; and impact-resistant windows.

 The number of new and existing homes on the market is expected to grow and become more balanced as builders regain their stride; and as rising home prices induce more sellers.

 Next Week: A preview of Grand Oaks, a new community now making its debut near downtown Venice.

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