What to Consider When Deciding Between New Home Construction and Resale

If you’re in the market to buy a home, you’ve got choices.

Aside from the actual type of property – condo, townhouse, detached, etc – you need to decide whether to take the resale or new construction path to home ownership.

But the decision can be a tough one, considering the pros and cons that come with each. And not only is this a financial debate, it’s also about different lifestyles.

Here are some key considerations about both buying resale and new home construction to think about before you make your final decision.

Level of Customization

If you buy resale, you’ll likely be looking at quite a few properties before you find one that matches your tastes and needs exactly. Buying an existing home usually means you’ll need to be willing and ready to make some sacrifices, unless your bank account allows for some serious tweaking.

Whether it’s the choppy floor plan or the lack of a master ensuite, the downside to buying resale is that you probably won’t be able to tick off every single one of your desires, unless you’re prepared to dump a lot of money in future renovations.

If you choose to buy resale, determine what your wants and needs are in a potential property before you start looking. For example, if you absolutely must have a double attached garage and a main-floor laundry room, be prepared to sacrifice other things to get them in case you just can’t find a house that meets all your criteria.

Of course, you just might find your dream home that fits within your allotted price range. But it’s always better to be prepared for the unknown.

One of the biggest advantages to buying a new home, on the other hand, is the opportunity to customize the home to precisely match your wants and needs. Whether you want an open floor plan, a combined living and dining room, a walk-in closet, or a walk-up to the backyard from the basement, you can design the plans accordingly before the home is built.

Not only that, but you also have the ability to choose the finishes, such as crown molding, granite countertops, or hardwood flooring. With a new build, you have control over how your home will look when it’s done, which isn’t always the case with a resale.


New homes are much more energy efficient compared to properties built decades ago. From the insulation, to the HVAC systems, to the windows and doors, there’s no question that new home construction will offer you a much higher degree of energy efficiency.

You’d be amazed at the cost savings that come along with an energy efficient property. In fact, new homes that cut the amount of energy used to operate it typically come with an average of 20% savings in utility bills, which translates to an average of $400 on annual savings.

A house that was built in 1950 will certainly cost more to operate than a new home that is built to today’s more modern standards. Of course, you can always update the home to bring it up to par, but you’ll need to be prepared to pay the bill to pay for such an endeavor.

Upfront Costs

Unless you buy a resale home that needs a ton of work (and, therefore, money), the upfront costs of a newly built home can be a lot higher.

Not only are you paying for the home itself, you’ve also got to flip the bill for things like window blinds, french doors, a fence, landscaping, and other items that the builder won’t be putting in for you.

In addition, you’ll need to pay a deposit to the builder to hold the desired location of the new home. While this price can vary, you can expect it to run around 10% of the cost of your newly constructed home. And the longer it takes for the home to be fully built, the longer that money will be sitting with the builder, rather than somewhere else where it could have been collecting interest.

Make sure all these upfront costs are discussed with the builder and accounted for before you move forward with new construction.

Sellers of resale homes don’t typically take the window treatments with them, nor will they be ripping out the fence or french doors, either. All these little extras that you might not have thought about before can really add up in a lot of savings when you buy a resale compared to a new home build.

Speed of Closing and Possession

When you buy a resale property, you can generally expect to get the keys to the place anywhere between 30 to 90 days after an offer is accepted. That’s a lot less time than the average new come construction closing date, which can be weeks or months – or longer – after the initial deposit is put down.

And if there are any delays throughout the process – which there almost always are – you can expect that initial closing date to be pushed out even further.

If you don’t have much time to play with, then a resale makes much more sense.

Established Neighborhood Versus Bare Bones

One of the best perks about buying an existing property is that you’re buying into an established neighborhood. The trees are mature, the schools are built, the area amenities are settled, and internet connections are secured.

Newly constructed homes, on the other hand, typically don’t have these features. Instead, it could take years before any of these amenities are available. In the meantime, you’ll have to put up with a lot of dust, plenty of noise, broken cell reception, and nothing green to look at outside for a while.

Cookie Cutter Versus Character and Charm

New-build homes typically offer clean lines and modern designs, but they often lack the charm that’s more typical with existing homes. Inside resale homes, you can often find lovely architectural details, like built-in shelving units, leaded glass, and vaulted ceilings, which offer a unique feeling to each property.

New homes in subdivisions often have that ‘cookie cutter’ feeling, where every house on the block seems to be just about the same. While you can always add that classic charm and character to a new home, it’ll come with a price tag.

The Bottom Line

Not every buyer necessarily wants the same things in a home or neighborhood. You’re definitely going to have a bunch of questions throughout the home buying process, so make sure you answer them before you take the plunge. To make sure the decision you make is the right one one, be sure that you’ve got excellent representation, regardless of whether you choose to go the resale or new construction route.