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Custom Home, New Home, Or Older Home? Three Unique Benefits (And Drawbacks)

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If you're in the market for a new (or new-to-you) home, your main question is likely: custom build, new build, or "used" home? This decision involves more than just comparing costs and lot sizes; the differences between a new home and one that's had a few years (or decades) to "settle in" can be significant. Read on for some factors to consider when balancing your new vs. older home choices.

Custom Homes: Personalization, but Sometimes a Personal Cost

Many homeowners who have already bought and sold several houses opt for custom homes, reasoning that they've had time to learn what they like and need (and what they don't) in other homes. By building a home to the owner's specifications, custom home builders can ensure that the homeowner has put thought into just about every detail of their home, down to the placement of light switches and electrical outlets. 

But this customization can come at a cost. Customizing a home is a time- and labor-intensive process, and as it goes on, you may find yourself asked to make decisions you've never made (or even thought about), often on a fairly limited timeline. Supply shortages or other issues can delay the completion of your project, leaving you in limbo. 

In short, building a custom home can be a great idea for the detail-oriented homeowner who knows exactly what they want, but could be a burdensome process for someone who is more indecisive or doesn't have the time or emotional energy to make hundreds of decisions about their new home before it's even completed.. 

Older Homes: Take Advantage of Prior Owners' Improvements

One major but underrated advantage of older homes is the ability to benefit from prior owners' projects and improvements without paying list price. Most homeowners don't recoup the full cost of improvements like kitchen and bathroom makeovers, new appliances, new flooring, or a detached garage, so if these items are already on your "must have" list, purchasing a used home that features them can save you money. 

On the other hand, finding a home with your "must have" items that doesn't also include some features you'd like to change can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. 

New Homes: Energy- and Cost-Efficiency With Less Customization

Purchasing an already-built new home doesn't provide the same opportunity to customize it to your liking, although you may still be able to select finishes like flooring or carpeting, countertops, and cabinets. However, today's homes are more energy-efficient than ever, and you could realize significant savings on your utility bills even as compared to a home that's just a few years older. New homes can also be cost-efficient, as homeowners won't need to worry about malfunctioning appliances, damaged flooring, or other wear-and-tear issues for years.