Like most buyers, your first choice is probably a brand-new home in a top neighborhood, but your budget may not match up with those offerings. Given the premium for new construction, your options are a new house in a so-so location or a so-so house in a great location.
Believing that location matters, you look online at resales in your favorite neighborhood and find there are many good choices. For considerably less than those new constructions, there are pretty-enough homes in seemingly nice shape with mature landscaping and most of the other amenities on your wish list. Or so it seems.
Existing homes are never a blank slate
The carefully presented online listings make it hard to see the reality of a resale until the disappointing visit. Once you get there, you’ll see most are a little rough around the edges. The homes might have big problems, like a roof that needs replacing, or little problems, like unforgettable chartreuse paint in all the bedrooms. Either way, they aren’t a blank canvas. Someone has lived there and put their mark on that home, and it’s up to the buyer to see what it could become.
Some things about so-called “dated” homes cannot be changed, such as low ceiling height and position on the property, but most resales offer some things that cannot be found in brand-new homes. For instance, older homes built before the current and more onerous zoning laws may offer a larger area of cleared property, a larger footprint, they may be closer to water and almost always have a mature landscape. Because such a purchase includes an existing home, mortgage loans tend to offer more favorable terms. And something front and center these days is that property taxes are lower for older homes.
Resales are usually worth considering, even if renovations aren’t your thing
I’ve blogged about this before: The asking prices of many resales — existing, previously occupied homes instead of brand-new spec houses from a developer — may attract the wrong buyers; that is, properties in need of work will cost more than the transaction price, so the right buyer will need to have plenty of room in their budget after buying the house. Some buyers are okay with the added cost and actually enjoy putting their own taste and effort into the property. They look forward to showing off those Before and After photos. There’s a reason those HGTV makeover shows are so popular!
But there are many people who cannot envision anything but what they see in front of them. For some, the future is so unclear that an objectionable paint color is sufficient to make them pass on an otherwise excellent choice. Really! I worked with customers who loved everything about a house except for the color of the front door. Admittedly It was a not-so-welcoming purple, but paint is not forever. For these folks, who replied they were not handy when it was suggested that it could be painted another color, the door color was such a turn-off, they did not consider buying the house.
Resales can be a much better deal than new construction
If you don’t have that gene — or whatever it is — that distinguishes those who cannot reimagine space and color from those who can, please don’t shy away from resales. They present an opportunity to be in a better location for less initial cost and there are professionals who can not only imagine for you, but actually show you what it can be, thanks to technology. The image above is an example of the same space digitally reimagined.
Right now, according to the database used by a majority of local agencies, based on a count in eight markets from Westhampton to Montauk, 13% of available offerings are new constructions. With inventory of resales in buyers’ favor, it’s clear that there are good opportunities for those willing to do the work. To find these deals, search price ranges lower than your targeted all-in budget in your preferred locations and let your real estate agent know that you are willing to consider older homes in need.