New construction or resale: How to decide between them
Among the most frequently asked questions by people who are preparing to buy a home are: “Should we buy a resale home or a new construction home?”
The answers depend on various factors including location, stage in life, the current size of the household, lifestyle and work, and preferences for home structure and community type. Other factors include floor plan expectations, flexibility within the home, overall cost of ownership and other convenience factors.
Bay Area and Northern California builders also ask buyers to think about the kinds of flexibility they need at home now and how their needs might change in the foreseeable future.
Floor plan flexibility
Home life does not exist in a vacuum; it changes, often as frequently as every couple of years. Everything from rearranging furniture to knocking down walls, adding doors or creating home offices and indoor-outdoor living can be done to most new and older homes.
The buyer who considers how long they plan to live in the home they purchase — five years or two decades, for instance — will know how lifestyle-ready the home they purchase needs to be on day one.
An older home may require modifications right from the start; that’s no surprise. But even people who purchase a brand new home may consider redecorating or slight design modifications within five or 10 years.
Bay Area builders are designing with the future in mind. Today’s new homes incorporate both open-concept spaces and private quarters including home offices and additional en suites.
If your heart is set on a resale home, do your due diligence: Pay close attention to disclosures about the home, property and any building limitations of the community or city; hire an inspector to find things you can’t see.
Take comfort in the fact that floor plans and designs of new-build homes are ready for the change your household will experience over time. But it’s wise to ask the builder or community representatives about possibilities and requirements for additions or renovations a decade from now.
City dwellers may crave the peace and quiet of a new-home community surrounded by nature.
Downsizing empty nesters may crave proximity to transit or all-inclusive, amenity-filled communities or townhome complexes with good walkability factors or near dining, entertainment, medical centers and transit.
First-time buyers with children may prioritize proximity to schools, parks, recreation opportunities, family activities and entertainment. Evaluate and predict uses of time, over time, to help decide between adding flexibility to an older home or moving into a home that is flexible from the start.
If the household has two or more people who work from home, return to the topic of floor plans to decide on options that provide the most practicality.
When choosing location, weigh the need and ability to regularly see family and longtime friends. Many of them may be talking about relocating, downsizing or upgrading to new construction.
Neighborhoods and people
A neighborhood is more than its homes, streets, sidewalks and greenbelts. A neighborhood is defined by its character. And character is defined by people.
Moving into a long-established neighborhood has its perks. Namely, knowledge, familiarity and existing community. Buyers who currently live in an established community — whether renting in an apartment building or owning a small house in an older area — will benefit from heart-to-heart talks about starting fresh.
For some, starting fresh and being part of a newly evolving neighborhood character is just what’s in order. They thrive either on witnessing growth around them or they thrive on diving in and making a mark.
For others, familiarity provides a comfort zone. They can benefit from either a long-established community or from getting to know the resources within and around a new-home community during the six to 12 months before move-in day.
Still others thrive on a mixture of both. For them, a master-planned, new-home community that’s past its first several phases may provide the perfect balance.
There’s no arguing that new construction homes contain the environmentally conscious, energy-saving and smart features that simplify day-to-day life and reduce the need and costs of energy, water and labor.
Many tech features in new construction homes come standard. The technology may include everything from wireless and programmable thermostats to programmable lighting and irrigation systems, plus security, smart showerheads, smart locks and clean-air filtration systems.
The environmentally friendly and money-saving features include everything from high-density insulation, low-emissive windows and roof vents to sustainable construction materials and energy-efficient appliances.
Some of these features can be incorporated during remodels of resale homes, which brings us back to the topic of flexibility: Determining how much time and expense you’re willing to spend on contemporizing a resale home will help you decide if embarking on an entirely new venture is the move for you.