Old House? New House? Weighing Your Options
By Neda Dabestani-Ryba
Maybe it has something to do with a childhood
home we fondly remember. Many of us long for old homes built with
solid construction, quality craftsmanship and beautiful details.
We wax poetic and wistfully recall the hand carvings, plaster
walls and eyebrow dormers of homes we’ve known. On the other
hand, how do the old homes we admire compare with newly minted
models—and what should we consider before deciding which
Location. Typically, old homes sit on generous
plots of land in or near town. The neighborhoods are established
and usually more central to schools and shopping. Mature trees
and plantings provide shade and beautify the property and neighborhood
streets. New homes are generally found in new developments outside
of town and homeowners who buy into an early can expect to contend
with dust and construction sights and sounds as the remaining
phases are being built. Landscaping may be skimpy or nonexistent,
but a buyer has the opportunity to design the décor from
Layout. New homes tend to have a more spacious
functional layout with higher ceilings, bigger windows, family
kitchens, walk-in closets, and family rooms. Some even have media
rooms and come pre-wired for cable and computers. On the other
hand, older homes were designed for a more formal lifestyle, which
is reflected in the formal dining and living areas and many cozy
rooms, including small bedrooms, closets and bathrooms.
Energy efficiency. Those eight-over-eight single
pane wood windows add character to an old home, but even with
storm windows, they’re not nearly as energy efficient as
modern dual-glazed or thermal windows. While most old homes lacked
insulation in outside walls and attics, homes built today insulate
against high heating and cooling costs. Although the bigger windows,
higher ceilings and larger rooms, common in new homes, can also
cause high utility bills.
Maintenance. With older homes, upkeep could
be more expensive because of older appliances, plumbing and electrical
systems—not to mention the roof—may need to be replaced.
A turn of the century home may have outdated knob-and-tube wiring,
and even a recently built home may have an inadequate fuse box-style
panel that falls short of the energy demands of 21st century families.
But new homes generally come with warranties that will cover the
cost for most major problems.
Price. Older homes are usually less expensive
per square foot. In addition the tax structure is more predictable
because the neighborhood is already established with amenities
that newer neighborhoods are still in the process of gaining,
such as schools, police and fire services, and infrastructures
(roads, sidewalks, etc.). However, with restoration costs a possibility
for older homes, your dollars may very well be spent on the back-end
rather than upfront.
If the charm and beauty of an old home wins your heart, hire
an inspector to evaluate the home for lead paint, insect and water
damage, lead and/or galvanized pipes, outdated wiring, foundation
problems and energy efficiency, including windows as well as heating/cooling
systems and insulation. After you get the all-clear, you have
one last consideration: Does the home fit your lifestyle or would
the conveniences of a newer model suit you better? Only you and
your family have the answer.
Neda Dabestani-Ryba is a licensed Realtor in Maryland. She is
a member of the President's Circle of Top Real Estate Professionals.
She can be reached at (800) 536-3806 or visit her website for
more information: http://neda.dabestani.pcragent.com/
Prudential Carruthers REALTORS is an independently owned and operated
member of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential
Financial company. Equal Housing Opportunity