A custom-designed layout, handpicked fixtures and finishes, and modern appliances – it’s no wonder why newly constructed homes are appealing, whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or considering moving up and buying new.
Aside from the aesthetic draw of a brand-new home, new builds prioritize consumer safety, require little maintenance, and are more energy efficient.
With better insulation and state-of-the-art appliances, families moving into newly built houses end up saving on heating, cooling and fixing up their property.
Forty-one percent of Americans say they would prefer to buy a newly built home over a previously lived in home, according to a 2014 Trulia poll. And a 2012 study by NewHomeSource and Metrostudy found that more than half of all buyers are shopping for new homes. U.S. Census Bureau data reflects these statistics too: year-over-year sales for newly built homes have steadily increased – by May 2020, sales for new single-family houses hit 676,000, nearly 13 percent above May 2019’s estimate of 600,000. In 2019 alone, 682,000 newly constructed homes were sold, according to the Census Bureau data.
House hunters have important decisions to make during the homebuying process, starting with whether to buy a new or a previously-owned home.
If you’re gravitating towards showrooms and new community developments, here’s a look at five prime reasons to buy a newly built home.
Newly-Built Homes come with Quality Construction
With significant advances in technology and construction, homebuyers investing in a new build can have confidence that their property is being built with state-of-the-art materials and techniques. Homebuilders will also meet every checkpoint when it comes to following the latest state and local building codes.
This is a big win for newly built homes. When it comes to previously owned homes, especially those that are decades old, prospective buyers need to do their due diligence. This includes paying for a thorough home inspection and appraisal, both of which could cost up to $1,000 each. They also need to carefully look over the seller’s disclosures for red flags, checking on everything from lead paint to pests or poor drainage.
Homebuyers shopping for a new construction can bypass these concerns. They can breathe easier knowing that builders must strictly comply with code regulations from layout, to structure, insulation, cladding, roofing, plumbing, electric and mechanical work, right down to the finishes and fixtures.
Health and safety are at the forefront of builders’ plans too: Smoke detectors, ground-fault circuit breakers that reduce the risk of electrical shock, lead-free paint, and exit routes from the basement are factored into present-day housing plans.
If properties being constructed are in states that are vulnerable to flooding, earthquakes, wildfires, or windstorms, builders factor in the risk of these natural disasters. Homes are built with modern materials that are resistant to floodwaters, Class A-fire-rated roofs and metal screens to cover all vents, and double or multipaned tempered glass. Modern day techniques which use interlocking steel beams reinforce the structure and foundation of new homes if in an earthquake rattling neighborhood.
New Homes are Energy Efficient
Between the poor insulation and older appliances, previously owned homes can guzzle energy, causing homeowners to experience sticker shock when opening their utility bills. On the other hand, new homes are 30 percent more energy efficient than a home built about seven years ago, according to the U.S Department of Energy. They save at least 3,449 KWH per year, on average – that’s enough energy to power your TV for 11 years.
Older homes have poor insulation, especially in the attic or basement, resulting in air leaks. These aging homes also come with worn out appliances, water heaters and HVAC systems.
A modern water heater can get the job done three to four times more efficiently. And governments have shifted their energy policies towards using LED (light emitting diodes) lights and CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) for good reason: they can increase a home’s energy efficiency by about 85 percent. Lighting accounts for at least 10 percent of homeowners’ utility bills so a significant cutback on energy usage for lighting could make a big dent on bills.
These days, new homes come fully furnished with Energy Star-rated appliances. Energy Star is a government-backed program coordinated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – products that make the cut and receive the Energy Star label use state-of-the-art technology, are environmentally-friendly and energy efficient. Builders also construct homes with energy efficient windows, doors, and sealing and with modern techniques for insulation.
With this combination, homeowners moving into newly built homes can save more than $620 per year on utility bills.
Newly-Built Homes are Less Expensive to Maintain
Not only do homeowners with new properties save money on monthly expenses they also save on home maintenance costs.
For starters, your new property’s appliances, products and the home itself usually come with warranties. Typically, builders offer warranties for about one or two years on systems and materials, along with warranties of up to a decade for the structure of the home and roof.
New homes usually don’t need to replace or fix big ticket items like the roof, plumbing or the water heater for up to 20 years.
Shoppers thinking of purchasing an existing home need to pay attention to every aspect of their potential buy – dated appliances that may need replacing or an aging roof that may need repairs. Homeowners in aging homes may be all too familiar with this concern – it’s often why they have a rainy-day fund to cover the costs of replacing an old refrigerator or fixing clogged pipes in the bathroom.
If homeowners are unhappy with old carpets or the existing kitchen cabinets, they will have to bear the cost of replacements.
New homes have improved security systems in place, from secure windows and doors to smart home security technology. With up-to-date security tech, monthly home insurance bills will be less expensive for new homes. Insurance is often lower in new builds because these properties are less likely to need repairs and replacing.
Census data found that homes built in the past four years will cost a homeowner $8 a month on average in maintenance and repairs. In contrast, all other homes cost about $33 a month to maintain. Keep in mind, New Home Source polling found that the median age of a resale home is 37 years – homes that old typically cost 21 percent more to operate compared to new homes.
Homeowners can Customize New Homes
With new housing developments, homebuyers have an opportunity to create the home of their dreams, with their decision-making behind every detail of the property’s blueprint.
Instead of studying listings to see which existing homes work for them, homebuyers are in the driver’s seat and can design their new home. They can select floor plans, the color and materials used in countertops, tiling, hardwood floors and carpeting, to even minute details like the window blinds and door handles.
For interior decorating aficionados and newbies to home design, the process is both fun and rewarding as they watch their visualization come to life.
Builders often provide buyers with a variety of options in floor plans, room layouts, fixtures and finishers. Shoppers can walk through fully finished showrooms and comb through floor plans and other materials to help them decide on their personal touches.
The option to customize the home before construction is completed is a major reason why shoppers are drawn to new builds, according to Trulia research. They were thinking of specific features like bigger closets, a kitchen island, an open floor plan, heated floors, and walls pre-wired for flat screen TVs.
If homeowners love to host parties and family gatherings, they may ask for custom features like an open concept living room that spills over on the backyard patio, along with space for wine glasses, a built-in wine cooler – even a wine cellar.
Other families may have a parent who works from home and needs an office filled with plenty of natural light, or kids who play instruments who need a soundproof room. With a brand-new home, these details specific to the homebuyer can be integrated into the property’s design.
Being the first to live in the home, and residing in a newly developed neighborhood, is also enticing. New housing developments are carefully planned with green recreational areas, playgrounds and new community amenities, which homeowners will be the first to enjoy.
Just like the appeal of driving a brand-new car, there is something to be said for the excitement and desirability of moving into a home that no one has lived in before. Homeowners won’t have to repaint walls or rip out carpets or cupboards to cover up a previous owner’s design decisions – they’ll have a blank canvas for home décor. Everything is perfectly spotless and pristine, and every detail, from your storage space to your appliances to your countertops was designed specifically for your family to make the house your home.
New Homes are Designed for the Way We Live Today
Smart home technology, open concept kitchens, and floor plans that make sure every inch of the home is utilized – new homes are functional and have adapted to the way multi-generational families live today.
Families who buy previously owned homes are inheriting floor plans designed decades ago. They often have separate living rooms and dining rooms, and even one shared bathroom on the top floor to accommodate two or three bedrooms. Keep in mind, the average resale home is nearly four decades old.
If buyers want to make upgrades to a fixer upper, they’ll need to budget for major renovations and delay moving in. In most cases, once they’ve moved in, they’re less likely to interrupt daily life to give their home a much-needed facelift. Making extensive renovations after a home is constructed is difficult to pull off and pretty expensive.
Builders now design new homes to match modern tastes and factor in convenience and practicality for day-to-day life. Even the smallest starter homes come with ensuite master bedrooms, open floor plans, and ample storage space throughout the home.
As more multi-generational families move under one roof, builders are including options like second or even third bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms for grandparents, guest suites or nanny suites. Homeowners with elderly family members can opt for ground floor-level bedrooms with full private bathrooms that offer easy accessibility for seniors. And if homeowners are planning to set down roots, they may want ground floor suites so they can age in place in their home.
Busy parents may work in so-called drop zone spaces and mud rooms so kids can offload backpacks and sports equipment after school.
It isn’t surprising to see new homes fitted with charging stations for their smart phones, tablets and laptops. Most even have USB ports included on electrical sockets. Smart home technology is commonplace, from smart thermostats to security synced up with your phone.
Don’t forget about storage space – modern day homes make sense, with extra storage cleverly built into every room so homeowners have sufficient space to keep things organized.
And then there are the luxuries of a new home: perks like heated floors and towel racks in the bathroom, kitchen faucets that dispense boiling water for faster cooking, or an electric fireplace in your new office are great benefits that often come with modern day homes.
New Homes Have Better Value and Resale Potential
Across the board, newly constructed homes yield higher price tags than previously owned ones. Census data suggests new single-family houses cost $317,900 in May 2020, compared to $287,700 for existing single-family homes – or roughly a 10 percent difference in price. NAR data from 2014 found that newly constructed homes came with a $280,900 price tag compared to $206,200 – a staggering 36 percent difference, too.
The NAR estimates that historically, newly built homes cost about 15 to 30 percent more depending on the housing market and the cost for builders to complete a home from labor to materials.
While they may be pricier to start, new constructions are larger: the NAR says typical existing homes built in the 1990s have 1,850 square feet, three bedrooms and two bathrooms. New homes built in 2019 have about 25 percent more space, at 2,301 square feet, with four bedrooms or more, and at least three bathrooms.
With these numbers in play, newly built homes cost $138 per square foot compared to $155 for existing homes.
Keep in mind, new homes also save homeowners in utilities, repairs, renovations, insurance and home inspections. Overall, these expenses easily offset the added cost of a newly built home. If homeowners buy an old home that needs a roof repair, for example, they should expect to spend $20,000.
When it comes time to sell, homeowners in a new property with energy-efficiency standards will have a much easier time finding buyers compared to those trying to sell a house that was outdated when they moved in. This is why homeowners in older properties are faced with making expensive repairs and renovations before putting their house on the market.
New homes have great resale value when homeowners keep the level of finishes and overall décor neutral enough to suit a wide variety of tastes. You don’t want over-the-top customizations and upgrades that make the price of your property skyrocket above others in the neighborhood.
And as always, when homeowners buy in growing communities and in cities where the real estate market is soaring, new properties will see their resale value grow exponentially.
For more expert advice on buying and building a new home, check out the free eBook download of New Home 101: Your Guide to Buying and Building a New Home at NewHomeSource.com.
Carmen Chai is an award-winning Canadian journalist who has lived and reported from major cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, London and Paris. She started her career in journalism writing about crime and local news for the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily newspaper. After that, she covered a variety of subjects from federal politics in Ottawa to the 2015 attacks in Paris. She has also worked as senior health reporter for Global News and as now the Parliamentary Affairs Manager for UK Research and Innovation. For NewHomeSource, Carmen covers a variety of topics, including insurance, mortgages, and more.