Should you buy an old home or a new home? – key considerations

Do you love the idea of an original weatherboard character home, or do you prefer something brand spanking new?  Before you decide on that ultra-modern pad, or start hunting for antiques for your little villa, there are some facts that may be worth considering.

Historic or older houses will often be located in the more established suburbs (Khandallah, Miramar, Island Bay), whilst most newer properties will be in recently developed areas (Churton Park, Hunters Hill, Woodridge), possibly further from the central business district.

New homes are built with today’s lifestyle in mind and are generally easier to live in.  They are built with more bathrooms, and kitchens are often integrated into living areas.  Do not expect an older house to be set up to effortlessly accommodate your media room!  Your 60-inch flat-screen television may also look ridiculous hanging in the oak-panelled library.  Indoor flow was something else far from the minds of most early architects so you may have to celebrate the idea of corridors and nooks, or potentially rule out character homes.

Charm and Personality
Older homes often have a character and individuality that simply cannot be found in new homes.   If an older home looks good now, it will likely look good in another 20 years.

It’s funny how the charm and personality of your original villa can quickly disappear when you are presented with the cost of replacing rotten floorboards that have just given way.  Get used to the fact that old homes require maintenance – some of it suddenly and in a big way – and if you are no handyman, that can be expensive!

Make sure you factor maintenance and renovation costs into your purchase price budget when buying an older property.  A newer home may be neglected or full of cheaper fixtures & fittings, just as an older home might be in good condition and packed with upgrades.  Yet more often, the newer home will be more contemporary and less in need or immediate repairs, whilst the older home may be out of style and have at least some deferred maintenance.

The cost of this maintenance, repairs, replacements and upgrades tends to make older homes less desirable, and thus possibly more affordable than newer properties, even though the savings at the time of purchase is often offset over time.

Whether you choose a colonial style villa or an art deco townhouse, any good builder will tell you that all older homes will at some stage demand repairs to keep them in top-notch condition.

Gardens and Landscaping
Mature trees and established sections add to the appeal of older homes.  With new homes in a subdivision, the buyer needs to have the imagination to visualise how that overgrown vegetation and dirt patches might one day develop into a fantastic landscape.  Or will it?  Landscaping is expensive and some developers may be tempted to skimp on the details. Some older homes come with the added bonus of having a larger section, as years ago when land was cheaper, builders built on larger lot sizes.

Most home buyers naturally focus on the price and location of the property they want to purchase.  But the properties condition, which is partially a function of its age, should also be an important consideration.  Age considerations tend to be the “least” important for most home buyers, but perhaps for half of them, age should be higher on the list.

Stay safe out there!

Andrew Duncan

Real Estate Blogger


“In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd.

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