There’s no question a new home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, which is why it’s so important to make smart decisions early on in the process.
And with a million tiny decisions to make along the way, one of the first you’ll make is whether ‘to build or buy a home?’
In our experience, by the time someone reaches out to a homebuilder, they’re already committed to either buying or building. But, for those of you who aren’t there quite yet, let’s take a look at some basic arguments for each path.
Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. There is no right or wrong, but there are some basic factors you can consider to make the decision easier. All of them boil down to one question: What’s most important to you?
Time? Money? Location? Ease?
Time: Construction and Move-In
Hands down, time is the biggest determinant in the build or buy question.
Are you starting a new job in another city? Are you planning to move right before your kids start school?
Questions like this and the framework of our lives often guide the home buying process.
To put it simply, if you do not have the ability to wait, then building a new home is not an option.
Depending on the paperwork involved, purchasing an existing, newly built home takes about 30 to 60 days (max). Conversely, it takes about 4-to-6 months to build a new home, depending on its size, materials, and overall complexity.
If time is of the essence, buy a prebuilt home.
Budget: Cost-Effectiveness vs. Customization
Is it cheaper to buy or build a house?
Getting everything you want in a home is inherently more expensive than purchasing a prebuilt one. Simple stuff.
You can clearly see this fact when comparing the final cost per square foot between custom and spec homes. On average, you’ll pay less when you purchase a home that’s already built and finished.
However, an experienced homebuilder can typically build a home for the same price as you could buy it already constructed — with a few exceptions.
For example, in our Kinway Park neighborhood, there would be no price difference between buying an existing home and building that same floor plan from scratch. That’s because homebuilders typically have the ability to keep prices low when they build in their own subdivisions.
But, when you change the environment and opt to build on your own piece of property, prices will fluctuate.
Your homebuilder will have to travel more. Your lot might require some prep work before building can commence. Or things like exterior concrete (that’s homebuilder jargon for ‘your driveway’) might push up the cost of your build.
For some, these are small potatoes compared to the final product and emotional satisfaction you get from building a custom home.
So, if you are dead set on getting exactly the floorplan and home selections you want – plan to build new. You won’t have to compromise on as many details that way.
If money is your biggest concern, buying a prebuilt home will keep you from exceeding your budget.
Location: Neighborhoods vs. Individual Lots
Location is everything … to some. The important question here is what are YOU looking for in a location?
A lot of people are attracted to the idea of newer neighborhoods, full of families like their own.
In general, new construction communities tend to be ‘easier’ for young couples and retirees. There’s little-to-no prep-work to build on each lot, and your landscaping is usually mature by the time you move in.
Compared to building on your own lot, these neighborhoods are a little cheaper to build, live, and resell your home in.
And sometimes, depending on where you live, you might not ever get the chance to buy a move-in-ready home at all. If you’re looking for a new home in a smaller town, you might just have to build it, because who knows when there will be a new home going up for sale?
A general rule of thumb is the closer you plan on living to an urban center, the more likely it is you’ll have to purchase an older home. It’s rare you’ll get the chance to buy undeveloped property in more densely populated areas.
When location is the most important part of your new home, we suggest you plan on building it.
Complexity: Making Decisions
Building a new home is a complex, demanding process. As the homeowner, you’re responsible for choosing each in-home selection, color, and finish – both interior and exterior.
For some, that’s exactly the level of control you want. Others simply don’t have the time.
So, if you’re busy raising a family, or focusing on your career, buying a prebuilt home will get you most of the benefits you’re looking for, with less stress.
Seriously, a lot of people underestimate the home selection process. We’ve spent years streamlining that journey for our customers, but if you think about it … most couples can’t even decide where to get dinner. What happens when it comes time to pick hardwood?
You also run the risk of overshooting your budget if you decide to build a home. TV programs on channels like HGTV inflate the average consumer’s perception of what is and isn’t within their price range. It’s not uncommon for couples to make a lot of top-tier selections, only to realize they’ve overshot their allowances by $100,000 or more.
Buying a prebuilt home is a little more straight-forward, and less complex. So, if you welcome the hands-on selection process, build your home and embrace the complexities.
What’s Important to You?
Like the homes we build, everybody’s personal situation is different. You need to step back and take a hard look at which of the factors listed above are the most important to you and your family.
Is it the time it takes to move? Hitting your budget? Picking your location? Staying focused on your day-to-day lives?
It’s important to get this decision – whether to build or buy new — out of the way EARLY in your home buying process. If you’d like some more information or have a particularly nagging question, feel free to contact us. We’d be happy to help.