New Homes Or Homes With Character? Which Would You Prefer?

When it comes to buying a home, most people fit into one of two camps. People either want the features and amenities of a newer home or they want the style and character only an older home can provide. There are huge difference in how you should go about buying each type of home. So, what should you expect?

Homes With Character Could Be A Steal Of A Deal

Homes with character can come one of two ways. They can be perfectly restored and updated while keeping their charm or they can be diamonds in the rough that need some work. Unless you have a big budget and don’t want to earn some sweat equity, then you might want to consider looking for the diamonds in the rough that you can customize to your liking. You can save money on the purchase price and customize your home exactly how you want to while keeping the character that attracted you to the older home.

Character Could Cost Big Money In Repairs And Maintenance

These diamonds in the rough could end up costing you more than you bargained for. If you’re doing any major renovations you could easily run into unexpected problems that would demolish your budget. When you buy a home, you can’t see through the walls to find potential problems with plumbing, electrical and dangerous insulation. That said, if you budget a contingency fund for these problems you could overcome them.

The extra cost isn’t all in the renovation phase of owning the home though. Older homes have older equipment and building materials that could require maintenance at any time. Granted, a new home will have these problems after a few years, but generally you don’t have to worry about a big dollar repair within the first few years of new home ownership.

New Homes Can Provide The Perfect Fit

For the other camp, new homes are the perfect solution to their house hunting adventure. You can customize anything you want in a new home, provided you pick the right developer and neighborhood. You can pick the perfect floor plan for your family, the perfect paint colors on the walls and the perfect flooring for every room. You can even pick out the perfect appliances. Unfortunately, all that awesomeness usually comes with a higher price tag in the current real estate environment. On the positive side, you shouldn’t have to change a thing after your new home is built!

New Construction Isn’t What It Used To Be

Like everything else these days, most homes aren’t built to the same standards as they used to be. In today’s tight economic conditions it’s easy to see how builders would cut corners and use cheaper materials to squeeze a little bit more profit out of each house they build. Not all builders will do this, so make sure you find a good quality builder that has a great reputation. You’ll pay more for your home, but hopefully it will be built better and there will be more time between big repairs.

Whether you like the character homes or shiny new construction homes, be prepared for what challenges might lie ahead. Realize that everything comes with some good and some bad and be prepared to make the best out of the situations that could provide potential challenges. House shopping should be fun! Just go into it with your eyes wide open.

Which do you prefer? The charming home that could use some work, the more expensive, fully renovated house with charm, or the new build made just for you?

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. I like both, but for different reasons. I’ve lived in both, and older is gorgeous, but it comes with more quirks than a house under 50 years old. But then there are new homes that are jammed so on top of each other and they are so vanilla.

    I do like the theoretical lower maintenance with new build though.

  2. We’ve had a range. A 10 year old, custom built, quality home. A new home with corners cut. A 100 year old home with quality updates done 20 years ago. It depends on each family’s circumstances, but what we have learned is that an old home with character is a poor fit for a family who has very small children unless you have the money to hire out a bunch of nagging, small repairs.

  3. With character often comes maintenance headaches. I think older homes are charming and love seeing them but for living in one, give me a new build any day. They don’t have to be cookie-cutter, especially if you are involved in the building process. My husband and I custom built our prior home. The one we are currently in we got involved in the process before it was finished so we got to choose colors, finishes etc. We are currently in the process of planning another custom home which we plan to build next year. So I imagine you can figure out our preference.

  4. new home for this guy……our first home was an existing home, but eventually we built a home that was and is exactly what we want. It’s in the location we wanted, it has the floor plan and features we wanted, and we got to pick out everything. You can’t find that with an existing home!

    • If we ever decide to buy another home (I’m sure we will) I definitely think it’d be cool to build our home to get everything we want. I just hope it won’t be super expensive!

  5. I like both. I know many people who live in historic homes, and they are all extremely beautiful. However, they are expensive to buy around here, and they are expensive to repair. They are also expensive to heat, cool down, and everything else. I do love the charm that comes with them!

  6. When we were looking to move to a new area 3 years ago, we looked at EVERYTHING! We strongly considered building a new house but then came across a short sale property (in great condition). We bought the short sale which came with a lot of the upgrades. I realized then that building a house would have been a nightmare because of all the choices! 🙂

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