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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Old home vs. new home

Time magazine's recent Web Guide: Real Estate reminded me of a topic a friend and I discuss frequently. She’s quite a bit older than me, and is currently renting from a relative, but is saving to build a small house. I, on the other hand, have no interest in new construction. I love the lines of older homes, woodwork embellishment, craftsman details, tudor-style brickwork, and natural materials. Leaving the definition of ‘what is old’ and ‘what is new’ up to the reader, here are some of the pros/cons of old vs. new when looking for real estate:

Old construction
Better location – often situated closer to the center of town or the community with schools, hospitals etc.
Safety – Radon testing, termites, asbestos; home inspections are a necessary precaution, and dealing with older issues can be extremely expensive.
Taxes – may be higher (because of the location) but shouldn’t fluctuate too drastically.
Neighborhood – already established community.
Landscaping – older and established, so more apt to have large trees and shrubs.
Price – older homes, esp. ‘fixer-uppers’ are often less expensive.
Craft – some handwork is just too expensive to do anymore, plus in some areas local policies even prohibit certain natural building materials (such as wood shingles) due to fire precautions. Wood floors.
Personality – the new craftsman rage notwithstanding, the personality and charm of older homes is undeniable.

New construction
Customization – you can build what you want. Generally you get what you pay for. In older homes, remodeling costs are often not returned in a resale.
Safety – from fire and earthquake codes to personal security systems, newer construction is generally safer.
Taxes - as more utilities are built, schools are built or get larger, and your local infrastructure is enhances, your taxes will also increase.
Landscape – as with construction, is easier to customize rather than having to demolish old existing or dead plantings, but unless you do it yourself, landscaping can be incredibly expensive.
Price - new products such as composite decking and roofing materials are longer lasting and sometimes less expensive. New subdivisions are often on the outskirts of town instead of closer in, and thus less expensive.
Efficiency – from tech ready to double paned windows, newer homes are hands down more energy and cost efficient.
Maintenance – well-built new homes have much less maintenance issues than older homes.

You may have always wanted an older, more traditional home, or you may have always lusted after a clean, modern design. Regardless, always consider the alternative. You may decide in the end that convenience and price outweigh design, or vice versa.
..And here's an article on the same subject

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