Many house hunters are under the mistaken impression that new construction is flawless, a perception that may be challenging to wrestle with if your seller’s home is surrounded by brand-new development. In reality, there can be just as many inspection issues with new builds as there are with resale properties. If you’re working with clients who are interested in purchasing new, it’s important to manage their expectations and let them know that no home—no matter what age—is perfect. On the other hand, new homes do have some advantages because they’re not worn. Here are three pros and three cons of new construction.
Less wear and tear. Buyers of new construction can expect fewer imperfections in the product, says Terrylynn Fisher, CRS, GRI, a professional stager and associate broker with Dudum Real Estate Group in Walnut Creek, Calif. Scratched floors and cracks in walls, for example, are more commonplace in resale homes than new ones. Finishes and design flourishes in new homes may also be brighter and more colorful because they are untouched.
Built-in technology. While many homeowners have been slow to adopt smart-home technology, developers are jumping on the bandwagon more quickly and incorporating smart features into their projects, says Sce Pike, founder and CEO of Portland, Ore.-based software company IOTAS. Smart door locks and thermostats are among the most popular products developers request, but some are eyeing more comprehensive packages that include smart humidity sensors and the ability to control access to a home remotely, Pike adds.
It’s a blank canvas. Buyers may feel more like they are designing a home specifically for them when starting from scratch with a brand-new home, which can be a big psychological motivator in a purchase decision, Fisher says. Though resale buyers, too, have the opportunity to make a home their own, they may not feel complete ownership of its style because they’re either adding to, morphing, or covering up the previous owner’s sense of style, says Christine Rae, founder of the Certified Staging Professionals International Business Training Academy.
Flaws due to building shortcuts. Builders may take shortcuts in the construction process to cut costs, and that can result in blemishes in the home. Fisher says one of her buyers recently bought a new home and discovered about six aesthetic problems that were caused during construction, including an unsightly gap at the top of a shower that made the framing behind the wall visible. “It was like a bad flip that appeared beautiful on the outside,” she says. “You’re going to have a more substantial house in an older home because it’s had owners that have cared for it.”
Style over functionality. Builders are hyperfocused on open floor plans, as it’s a top priority for today’s buyers. But that often requires sacrificing storage space, Rae says. To achieve a truly open space, builders often have to decrease the size of closets and other areas of the home designed for storage. That can be problematic for meeting the needs of buyers who envision purchasing a long-term residence.
Incomplete curb appeal. Many builders put all of their effort—and investment—into the front of the house so it looks good to potential buyers driving by. But they’ll sometimes leave the backyard unattended to, Fisher says. Many new-home buyers may have to assume all the costs of backyard landscaping, including planting grass or laying sod, as well as planting trees and other shrubbery. This can be a huge expense, too.