Should you buy an existing property or a brand-new home? Part 1: Pros and cons of buying an existing property
It’s a well-known dilemma for house-hunters. Should you invest your hard-earned money into an existing home or should you build something brand-new? Let’s weigh up the options.
Pros and cons of buying an existing property
One of the primary reasons that buyers choose an existing property has to do with location. It stands to reason that to get into a more established neighbourhood, you’ll probably need to buy a home that’s already built. Vacant land is rare in established suburbs – except in exceptional circumstances, such as post-earthquake Christchurch. And why would you want to get into an established neighbourhood? Well, for one thing, there tends to be a lot of greenery, with leafy gardens and parks boasting large, mature trees. Also, because towns and cities tend to expand outwards, the older suburbs are usually closer to the CBD and satellite commercial areas that have become draw-cards in their own right. That means convenience – proximity to workplaces, supermarkets, medical centres and whatever other shops and services you might require – and, for a lot of people, it also means lifestyle. Restaurants, bars, cafés and retail precincts are just a short drive (or, if you’re really lucky, stroll) away.
As for the houses themselves, an established suburb also means the choice of properties from different eras. Whether you’re a fan of romantic villas, graceful bungalows or the angles of mid-century modern, buying an existing home gives you a wide choice of property types. Throw in apartments, terrace-style townhouses and houses with large, rambling gardens, and the choice is almost limitless (depending on your budget!).
But the downside of properties from different eras is, of course, a longer history in which different building standards, deferred maintenance and DIY repairs can all affect the quality of the home you’re buying today. In the past, houses weren’t typically built with insulation in the walls and nobody even knew about double-glazing windows! Even if subsequent owners have painted the home in contemporary colours, they may not have gone to the trouble of removing the wall linings to install insulation.
For these reasons, with existing homes, it is essential to book a professional building inspection. A trained inspector can thoroughly examine the property and let you know of any current or potential issues so that you can get them addressed. Of course, that leads to another popular reason for buying an existing home – DIY! For a lot of Kiwis, letting loose their creative streak and renovating their property has great appeal. And, if it’s done right, you can even add extra value to your home. Just make sure you plan carefully, ensure you have the correct building consents required by your local council, and call in a professional for the trickier jobs.
Read Part 2: Pros and cons of buying a new property here.