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Buying New vs Resale

Should I buy a new home or a resale home?

The decision on buying new vs resale depends on your personal preferences and priorities. When shopping for your next home, don’t get too caught up in what someone else tells you is the “right” choice, because the truth is, there is no one textbook answer that is right for everyone.

While no one can tell you whether a new home or a resale is best for you, here are some questions to consider if you are house hunting and are caught up in the new versus old debate.

Pros and cons of buying a new home or a resale home

Costs
For anyone who assumed a new home built in the suburbs would cost less than an existing home in an urban neighbourhood, you might be surprised.

New homes are typically more expensive than similar resale homes. Suburbs also tend to be further away from work, schools, shopping, and other services, which means that you will have to drive further to get to them.

On the flip side of the coin, a new home may cost less to run and maintain, depending on the condition or age of a resale. The materials and construction methods used might be more energy efficient than what may be used in older resale homes. Also, new homes come with a warranty for construction, materials, plumbing, and wiring that resale homes typically don’t have.

It is helpful to remember that a warranty is not a guarantee, so take time to understand what exactly is covered. Don’t assume all potential problems will be 100% paid for by the builder.

Also remember that a well-maintained resale home may have already had important updates made such as a new roof, windows, updated wiring, or other major renovations, so don’t discount that lovely older bungalow you love too quickly. Even if it does need some TLC, you might be able to mitigate the costs of repairs or renovations that you expect to make to the home by asking for a price reduction in your offer.

One more note on costs; a new home is subject to GST/HST, whereas a resale home is normally exempt, which could make a big difference in your upfront costs.

Location
Older neighbourhoods are often considered to be more “walkable”, meaning they have more amenities such as schools, parks, shopping, and other services closer at hand. There are more opportunities to walk or cycle when running errands, reducing gas and maintenance fees on your vehicle or perhaps meaning that you can do without a car altogether.

An established neighbourhood also has character that takes time to build, such as mature trees and landscaping, as well as the finishing touches such as backyard fencing and finished driveways that are either not completed by the builder or come with an extra cost.

A new home in a new development might have the advantage of outdoor living space such as a bigger yard or maybe even a play area or other green space as part of the plan. Or, in the case of urban in-fill projects such as loft conversions and new condo developments in un-used urban lots, your new home might be located within an older neighbourhood with it’s history and charm already “built in”, which can put you right in the centre of city life and in a fresh, new, modern home at the same time.

Finishes and decor
A resale home comes with some kind of existing decor and styling. Paint colours, carpets, flooring, countertops and fixtures are already there, so in order to change them, you have to spend the money and time to do so yourself. You might not mind, and you might even enjoy working on home projects, but if you want everything “move-in-ready”, a new home offers the advantage of choice. You can choose the finishes you want installed, and can sometimes even have them paint for you before you even move in.

However, a new home can also feel like an empty shell in comparison to a resale home. A resale home, regardless of paint colours and old carpets, might have the charming touches such as crown moulding and other trims, hardwood floors with character, or even exposed wood beams in the ceilings, which we don’t typically see added to new builds, or at least, not without additional cost.

So to answer for yourself the new vs resale question of which is best for you, you need to think about what your personal preferences, requirements, and priorities are. Are you looking for a fresh, clean slate or to build upon the “good bones” of a space? Does a smaller urban space fit your style, or a larger suburban plot? Would you rather pay a higher purchase price, taxes, and other potential upfront costs, or take on potentially higher maintenance costs or perhaps some renovation projects?

I’d love to hear where you stand on the question of new homes versus resale, or about what you love, or would change, about your home. And of course, if you are thinking about buying or selling a home, I’d love to connect with you and help you answer some of these questions for yourself!

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