New houses are spiffy and have up-to-date wiring and design. Old places can be quaint and more affordable.
Each type of property has its pros and cons, which buyers should consider before they venture into the housing market. Certainly, the older-home market offers many more choices. In New Jersey, about 32,000 new homes were sold last year, compared with 154,000 older dwellings. Nationally, about 1 million new homes were sold last year, compared with about 6.5 million existing houses and condos.
But in general, older houses are less expensive. Nationally, new houses sold for an average of $246,500 last year, compared with $221,900 for existing homes.
A property’s age is only part of the story. A home’s sale price also depends heavily on its size and location, as well as the state of the housing market overall.
Of course, prices for both new and existing homes are much higher in North Jersey. Because land prices have gotten so high in this area, builders can’t afford to put up inexpensive houses these days.
Older homes are more likely to be in leafy, well-established neighborhoods with mature landscaping. New houses are often in subdivisions that have less character and are farther from the city centers, which may mean a longer commute. Older houses often offer excellent workmanship, because labor and material costs were much lower when they were built.
For many people, the best solution is a new/old house — an older house that has been renovated. The outside may be 1890s Victorian, 1920s Tudor, or even 1960s ranch … but the inside has a granite-and-stainless steel kitchen, bathrooms with tumbled marble, and upgraded wiring, plumbing and heating. Of course, all this adds up to a lot of expense — and the headaches of living through renovation.