- The Washington Times - Friday, April 16, 2010

Many car buyers, if they can afford it, will almost always purchase a new auto. Not only do they know that cars begin to depreciate the minute they are driven, but they also love that “new-car smell.”

Homebuyers are not quite as particular about buying a new home versus a resale, although there are some buyers who will absolutely refuse to buy a “used” home. While the age of the home may not matter to most buyers, the majority of buyers want a home to look as new as possible and to have been updated.

“Most of the buyers I work with do not want the hassles of fixing up a home, so they are interested in a brand-new home or one which is relatively new,” says Pat Derwinski, a Realtor with Weichert Realtors in McLean, Va. “Most homebuyers in this area are two-income families who simply do not have the time to wait on contractors or do the work themselves.”

Mary Ann Zaruba, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Severna Park, Md., says many buyers think a new home will require less maintenance, which may or may not be true.

“The value of a new home depends on the builders, and in these tough times, builders have had a difficult time getting financing,” Mrs. Zaruba says. “Some of them have had to cut corners and use lower-quality materials. The craftsmanship of older homes and the quality of their construction may be impossible to re-create today.”

As with any home purchase, each buyer must weigh the choices to determine whether the advantages of any particular property are worth the price and any disadvantages. Generally, the main disadvantage of a new home is the waiting period until the home is complete, which can take from six to nine months, unless the residence is already under construction. New homes tend to be somewhat more expensive than resale homes, although builder incentives can sometimes make them more affordable.

Advantages of new homes

Aside from personal preferences for a new home, there are some additional advantages for new-home buyers.

“Buyers of new homes can pick their location within a subdivision, especially if they are buying at an early stage of development,” says Dawn Pace, a Realtor with Weichert Realtors in Potomac, Md. “They can choose to back to woods, be close to the main street or on a cul-de-sac.”

Rob Allen, a Realtor with Long & Foster Real Estate in Arlington, Va., says new-home buyers will have the advantage of owning a home with fewer electrical or plumbing problems, along with a more modern design.

“New condo buildings in Arlington have a more modern look and modern finishes, but the trade-off is that they are often smaller in square feet than older condo buildings from the 1960s,” Mr. Allen says. “In older single-family homes, the floor plans tend to have smaller closets and bedrooms, which cannot always be redesigned. Newer single-family homes have a more open floor plan.”

New homes, whether they are condominiums or single-family homes or town homes, are typically designed for greater energy efficiency than older homes.

“The extra energy efficiency and other modernizations of a new home will likely add some premium to its value over time, compared with a home that is 10 years old right now,” says Bob Lucido, an associate broker with the Bob Lucido Team at RE/MAX Advantage in Fulton, Md.

New-home buyers can sometimes find a completed or nearly completed home available from builders, but most builders today are not building spec homes. Instead, they prefer to begin building only after a contract has been signed.

“The best values in new homes are for quicker-delivery homes that the builders want to get off their books,” Mr. Lucido says. “While customizing a new home is usually what people want, it can be harder to get a good deal on a home that hasn’t been built, and it takes a long time.”

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