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Buying New Construction vs Resell

Is new construction really the better option? By Ben Geanetta, REALTOR®, Team Lead

As a real estate professional, I frequently encounter clients who are indecisive between buying a new construction home or resell. Both options have their own advantages and disadvantages, so let’s take a closer look at what you can expect.

New Construction: The Shiny New Toy

I have assisted numerous families in purchasing new construction homes—and have even purchased a few myself. There are several avenues for new construction, including buying a completed spec home (a completed home ready to move in). Another option is to purchase a home that is under construction, which may provide some flexibility in terms of choosing finishes, colors and other details. Finally, you can choose to build a custom home, where you typically own the land and have more control over the design and finishes. Regardless of the avenue you choose, the following applies:

There’s something alluring about a new build. The idea of being the first to live in a home that has never been touched by anyone else is appealing. I mean no one wants to live in someone else’s grime. Plus, everything is brand new, which means you shouldn’t have to worry about repairs or replacement for several years, if not decades.

However, it’s important to note before you purchase your new build, you should have the home inspected by a third party. Even better, consider having the home inspected during the course of construction by a third party to ensure nothing is overlooked. Even the most experienced home builders can make mistakes due to the logistics of construction. These mistakes are typically not due to cutting corners or because they are bad at what they do but because they are people, and people are not perfect. Only Jesus is perfect.

A frequent issue I’ve noticed on new construction inspection reports is that the plumbing vents are often left capped. This oversight can result in an unpleasant odor of sewer gas permeating the living space—definitely not a pleasant experience.

Another advantage of getting a home inspection on your new build is that the report itself can serve as a user guide for your home. In the report, you’ll find the locations of the water shut-off, gas shut-off, attic and crawl space access, and other important components of the home.

Additionally, depending on the builder, new construction homes will come with some form of warranty. The type of warranty varies by builder, but I’ve seen everything from 10-year structural warranties to general warranties that exclude wear and tear for up to 12 months after purchase. There is even one local builder who has a lifetime structural warranty!

Most new construction homes are built with a higher energy efficiency rating due to the latest advances in construction material and building practices. This provides homeowners with the benefit of reduced monthly utility bills. You’re even likely to find new build homes with smart home technology!

If you have the opportunity to build a custom home or choose the finishes for a spec home, there is no denying that selecting finishes, colors and layout is an absolute blast. It is the perfect way to make your home original and perfectly suited to your style.

Resell: The Tried-and-True Classic

A home with history and charm is comforting. Unlike new construction, resell homes often come with mature landscaping, fencing, outbuildings, established neighborhoods and perhaps even some interesting features unique to the area. Think South Sandpoint and the 3rd Avenue Pier or War Memorial Field. Plus, the price tag on resell is often lower than new construction, meaning you can get more home for your money.

However, resell homes can come with their own set of challenges. You may be inheriting outdated appliances, flooring and other components that need to be updated sooner than later. You definitely should hire a third party for an inspection. The possibility of mold growth, the previous homeowners’ defected DIY projects, and roof defects are higher.

Furthermore, in the case of a home settling or having structural defects, these issues are more likely to be visible in a resell home, as it has had more time to develop and present itself.

Finally, let’s not forget about renovation when it comes to resell homes. Renovation can be just as thrilling as building a new home, and it gives you the opportunity to customize various aspects of your home to make it truly unique to your taste. This can be the best of both worlds.

Ultimately, the decision to buy resell or new construction is a personal one that should be based on your needs, budget and preferences. With a solid understanding of what you're looking for and the right local real estate professional helping you, you're sure to find the perfect home for you and your family.

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