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Is It Better to Buy a New Build Home or a Pre-owned Home?

New Construction Laura Jewett September 5, 2022

A client recently posed this question to me and I thought it would be helpful to provide a pros and cons list for the two options.

Pros of New Construction Home

  • Everything is brand new. Nobody else’s design tastes (or lack thereof!), germs, and dirt are left behind as mementos in the home.
  • And being new, the home comes with a builder warranty that covers the workmanship and major systems of the home (each builder warranty will vary so it is important to review this document).
  • Less home maintenance and therefore less maintenance costs, as all of the major systems (AC, water heater, electrical, plumbing, roof) of the house are new and under warranty.
  • If you purchase a new home early enough in the process, you can pick your lot, floorplan, interior finishes and other upgrades of the home.


  • Many of the new home communities have great community amenities like parks, community rec centers, pools and many other great options.
  • In new home communities, everyone is new so neighbors are more likely to reach out to try and get to know each other than you sometimes find in more established neighborhoods.
  • New construction opportunities that are centrally located in the Phoenix area are hard to come by, but we have exclusive access to many current and future opportunities. If you think new construction may be the best path for you, contact us to learn more.

Potential Cons of a New Construction Home

  • Most of the affordable new housing projects are on the outskirts of town. This can make for long commute times if you are not working remotely.
  • Since the cost of land has gone up so much in most areas, builders are typically packing in as many houses as they can into the developments thus leading to small lot sizes/yards.
  • While getting to choose all of the finishes of the home is a definite perk, these upgrades generally come at a steep cost. Many new home buyers are disappointed to find that the version of the home they are buying looks nothing like the model home that they fell in love with. Of course, builders do this intentionally to lure you in and show you the possibilities of what one of their homes can look like. In fact, this has become a big enough issue, that many home builders are now showing one of their models in only the included finishes sans any upgrades. But of course they are still staged beautifully (see our blog on the Power of Staging) but this at least gives a more realistic picture of what a buyer can expect.
  • While the interior of the home generally comes pretty turnkey, there are a few things that are not typically included. Interior window coverings being one of them. The builder may offer a package for these but it is wise to do your homework and get bids from other sources to ensure that you are not paying a premium for the convenience of having it done prior to moving in. This goes for a lot of the other upgrades as well. It is generally always wise to make all of the structural and mechanical upgrades with the builder (for instance, turning a half bath into a full bath, or adding a loft area or a sink in the laundry room or gas line at the range, etc.), sometimes some of the cosmetic options that you are wanting can be done for less after closing. But the benefit of doing them with the builder is that the cost is rolled into your loan rather than having to pay for these items out of pocket.
  • Another element that is generally not completed by the builder is landscaping. While many offer a front yard package to ensure that the neighborhood has a cohesive, finished look, generally no backyard landscaping is included. Again, they may offer a package for this but it is best to price this out to get a comparison of cost.
  • While all of the built-in appliances are always included, a washer, dryer and fridge are often excluded from this. So this is just one other factor to confirm during the purchase process with the builder so that you can plan accordingly.
  • If you are buying in the early stages of the new home development, you can be certain that you are going to be dealing with the dust, noise and congestion of ongoing construction in the neighborhood for quite some time.
  • With the high cost of upgrades, there is the potential that more needs to be spent on personalizing the space to your tastes – which can include paint, shelving, light fixtures, flooring or any other number of items that you opted not to upgrade with the builder. However, this is not exclusive to new construction homes and carries over to pre-owned homes.
  • In times of supply chain issues, labor shortages or other issues that can directly or indirectly impact the building process, delays can be the end result. Delays that can cause a chain reaction with your moving plans. This is a good point to keep in mind and be conscious of, to have a contingency plan in place. But as in most things, good communication is key!

Pros of a Pre-Owned Home

  • You know what you are getting. What you see is typically what you get. Unless specific improvements are negotiated with the seller, how you see the home when you first view it, is how it will be conveyed to you at closing (minus all of the owners’ personal belongings of course unless those have been negotiated as part of the purchase – which is sometimes an option).
  • Typically, pre-owned homes already have landscaping, window coverings and other improvements already made. But whether or not these are to your taste or in good condition can make this either a pro or a con.
  • The neighborhood is established so you are not dealing with ongoing construction nuisances. You can see who the neighbors are and how they care for and maintain their homes. Tip: if you have identified a home or neighborhood that you are interested in, it is a great idea to chat with the neighbors to find out what they like about it or any concerns that they may have. You will be shocked by what neighbors will and want to tell you!

Potential Cons of a Pre-Owned Home

  • Aging systems in the home (AC unit, water heater, roof, etc.). It is essential to have a thorough home inspection done when purchasing a home (it is even great to have an inspection done on a new construction home just to verify that nothing was missed!). Many unforeseeable items can be uncovered that you would never know about without a professional looking for them. You are then able to negotiate with the seller to have these items repaired or replaced or to offer credit so that you can have them repaired after closing.
  • The home may need considerable work to make it the way you want. But if being in the area or neighborhood that you want is more important; then the need to upgrade and personalize the space can sometimes be overlooked.
  • There are other options to help circumvent some of the negatives of buying new. Many builders have quick move-in home options that are essentially finished so this could eliminate the disadvantage of not knowing exactly what you are getting or having to invest a lot into additional upgrade options. Builders often have special pricing on their quick-move-in homes to get them sold quickly which can be another advantage.
  • The Inspired Living Real Estate Collective offers new home opportunities in established neighborhoods throughout the Valley. This can eliminate any potential disadvantage of being too far out of town. Check out our current availability of homes or contact us to get more information on what we have coming up!
  • Or if you want the advantages of owning new without all of the potential negatives, doing a home search for homes built within the last few years might be the perfect compromise! Often, the owners have already put in all of the additional extra improvements making it a truly turn key option with still years of minimal need for replacement of the home’s major mechanicals.
Whether you are buying a new or pre-owned home, one thing remains the same, it is essential to have a professional Realtor to help guide you through the process.
Many buyers do not understand that the sales agents in new home subdivisions represent the builder and only the builder so you have nobody looking out for your best interests or reviewing the lengthy contract documents with you, or guiding you and providing advice throughout the process.
Both options provide great opportunities so unless you are dead-set on one option or the other, it may be best to keep all opportunities open to give you the best possibility of finding your dream home! 

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