Building new vs. buying existing - which is the right choice for you?

01.11.2021

When it’s time to upsize or downsize, most of us generally head straight to listings of existing property for sale. Perhaps it is seen as the ‘easier’ option, or it’s just what we naturally do! But whatever the reason, what we need to remember is there are two very viable options when looking for a new place to live - buying an existing house or building brand new. 

Both have their pros and cons, and should be carefully weighed up to understand which is the right choice for you and your family. You may actually be quite surprised which decision you end up with! 

So leave the assumptions at the front door, and check out our list below that covers some of the comparisons you should think about before making your choice. 

 

BUILDING A NEW HOME

  • Warranty 

Every home built by a reputable building company will come with a warranty on workmanship and materials. Ours is 10 years (and is typically more comprehensive than others), and it allows you to have complete confidence and security in the end result.  

  • More appealing at resale 

People love new homes, and when the time comes to sell, you’re likely to have a lot more interest from buyers than if you were putting an older house on the market. 

  • Capital gain

Once a new house is complete, it almost always appreciates in value, meaning it is worth more than what it cost to build. So you’ll have greater equity (and borrowing power - if you wanted to buy a holiday home or investment property). 

  • Little to no maintenance costs 

After you’ve moved in, you’ll be able to just sit back and relax! There will be little to no maintenance for the home and property, other than adding your own finishing touches (like putting in the veggie garden and hanging all your artwork). 

In a home more than 10 years old, there’s more likely to be things on the ‘to do’ list to keep the house in tip top shape.   

  • Comfortable living

The Building Code of today is far more extensive than it was 10 to 20 years ago, so even homes built to the minimum standard will be warm, dry and constructed with quality materials, inside and out. 

Considerations 

  • Availability of sites

Whether close to the coast, near the city centre, or with a bit of space in the country, we all have an ideal location of where we want to live. But if you’re looking to build, you may not always get your first pick of sites. Vacant sections in certain towns and cities aren’t always a given, and large housing developments are typically built away from heavily populated suburbs.    

  • Building takes time

From the time you decide to build, to finding the right location, organising finance, choosing the design, getting the building team on board and going through the council consent process - it can take a bit of time for things to get underway. Of course building is always worth it in the end, but it’ll be important to practice patience.

 

BUYING AN EXISTING HOME

  • Charm of older homes 

Throughout the decades there have been various styles and characteristics of homes built in that era. And for some people, those charms are hard to pass by. 

Obviously if you are building new there is allowance for some personality to shine through in the design - but it would be difficult to successfully replicate the classic bungalows of the 1920s, or a mid-century retro look from the 1960s.    

Modern houses aren’t for everyone, and if you fall into that camp, building new might not be right for you. 

  • Negotiation

A house is only worth what someone will pay for it, and with market fluctuations (as well as other factors), there is always the potential to negotiate on a price for an existing property. 

Having finances sorted and being unconditional in your offer can work very much in your favour, potentially saving you thousands if you are able to make all the right moves at the right time.   

  • Location

Buying an existing home will likely give you a lot more choices when it comes to location. Sections for new builds are in short supply in some regions of the country, and those that are available are usually in large building developments, in suburbs that are out of the city centres. So if you have a specific area in mind, your only choice may be existing - and that’s okay. 

  • It’s ready now 

Aside from waiting for settlement, which is normally between four to six weeks, you’ll be able to move straight into your home, minus the long wait. This means you won’t have to live in limbo waiting for the build to be complete, because even conservative estimates can be delayed by unexpected holdups.   

So if you need your new home, like yesterday, buying an existing house might be the best decision for you. 

Considerations 

  • The cost 

Buying an existing home may seem like the ‘cheaper’ option, but is it really? It is certainly worth comparing the two before making that assumption! Especially if you buy an older home that will need regular maintenance, if not an entire facelift.   

  • The design

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about buying an existing home is that it wasn’t designed for you and your family’s lifestyle in mind. From the layout to the colours, fixtures and fittings - if they aren’t to your taste, it could be very expensive to change, if they can be adjusted at all. 

 

At the end of the day, only you can decide which option is right for you. What’s important is that you work out your priorities, your budget and things you’re willing to compromise on, and work backwards from there towards the kind of home that will best meet your needs. If you’re interested in wondering what the process of building a home with us looks like, we break it down in our four-step guide

And if you have any questions at all, our friendly team is only a phone call away. Find your nearest branch location here. 

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