Home buyers have a lot of decisions to make. One important decision f is whether to buy a new home or an older home. As with many other decisions home buyers face, there is no one-size-fits-all approach — but there are some things everyone should take into consideration when evaluating their options.

Buying a New Home

It’d be nice to be the first person to live in a home. Everything is clean and ready from day one. You’re not going to end up with any surprises from previous owners or find a basement full of discarded items. If the house is still under construction, you may even have the opportunity to make customized decisions about things like countertops and appliances.

But these benefits also come with a price. Often, the price is literal — on average, new homes sell for between 20% and 30% more than older homes. But that’s not all. New homes are likely to be in new developments, which are often not in the most desirable locations. If you want to be close to downtown in your city, it’s going to be hard to find new construction. You’re much more likely to be further out of town and in an untested neighborhood. And in the recent recession, new homes were hurt more than old ones.

Pros of a New Home

  • It’s clean, untouched, and everything should be in working order.
  • It’s never been lived in and there will be no surprises from previous owners.
  • It should have new appliances.
  • It’s likely to be energy efficient, have more outlets, and include the newest technology.
  • You may have the opportunity to make your own decisions on what types of appliances and extras to include.
  • Some builders have their own financing departments that make it easier to get a mortgage.
  • If the house is part of new development, there’s likely to be less competition, as there will be several new homes to choose from.
  • You’re much less likely to have to make major repairs in the near future.
  • New homes tend to have trendy designs, open living spaces, and larger windows.

Cons of a New Home

  • New homes are more expensive.
  • New homes are often built on smaller lots than old homes, particularly in higher-density areas.
  • It can be hard to find new construction in a lot of the most central and desirable neighborhoods.
  • You’re more likely to be further out of town and have a commute.
  • If your neighborhood is still under construction, you could be living with construction noises and machinery for the foreseeable future.
  • During the recession, new homes were generally hit harder than old homes.
  • New homes are more likely to be part of costly homeowners associations.

Buying an Older Home

New homes aren’t the only homes that come with advantages. There are plenty of reasons a majority of home buyers opt to buy an old home rather than a new one. They’re less expensive and more likely to be a desirable area. And they can come with beautiful design elements that aren’t included in new construction.

Of course, old homes have their own disadvantages. They frequently have a lower purchase price, but you’re more likely to end up on the hook for costly repairs, like leaky roofs or appliance replacements.

Pros of an Old Home

  • Homes that are already built are more likely to be in the most desirable neighborhoods and in the hearts of most cities.
  • You’re more likely to have a big yard.
  • Old homes are generally cheaper than new homes.
  • You can be sure about the record of the school district you’re moving into.
  • Older homes tend to have a more classic design and character.
  • Old homes have a proven record that you can examine to see how their value has held up.
  • Some experts believe older homes generally have more solid construction.
  • Old homes often have beautiful design elements, like crown molding and real hardwood floors.

Cons of an Old Home

  • Old homes can result in more unexpected repairs than new homes.
  • It can be harder to find old homes in some areas.
  • The appliances are more likely to be older.
  • The home may not come equipped with new technologies for things like security and keyless entry.
  • There may be fewer outlets and older electrical systems.

Is a New Home or an Old Home Right For You?

New homes and older homes both have their advantages, and at the end of the day, it comes down to what features are most important to you. Some of the differences are personal and stylistic in nature — are you looking for something modern and trendy, or something classic and full of character?

At the end of the day, the decision is a personal one that depends not just on your style preferences, but also your finances. If you have questions about what might be right for your family, talk to your real estate agent about your questions and concerns.