Hey first-time home buyers! If you’re looking for a house right now, chances are you’re considering a variety of factors you want in a home.  For example, how important is closet space to you?  Do you want a spacious house with an open feel or a more traditional home that has character – but smaller rooms?  And how important is a finished basement for you and your family?

The truth is, most of these concerns can be categorized into two groups – an older home or a newer home.  While there are benefits to both, it’s important to consider the pros and cons before scanning the hundreds of home listings for your idea house.

Old House: More Character, Less Space

Generally speaking, older homes have more charm.  By older I mean 50-100 years old.  It’s in these homes that you usually find detailed crown molding, solid building materials, and intricate woodwork.  Older homes also often have a more distinctive look than new homes – as newer homes generally look like cookie cutter homes if the neighborhood isn’t mature yet.

However, with these great features comes the sacrifice of open floor plans, spacious closets, and newer windows/electrical wiring.  My house for example – is definitely older, and since the three previous generations of owners (all from the same family) never bothered to update any of the electrical outlets, we still have two-prong outlets and an outdated bathroom done in pink tile with a 1950s countertop.

Assuming the home is still in its original floor plan, the closets are usually much smaller (goodbye walk-in closets).  And if the kitchen has not been updated, there probably isn’t a dishwasher installed or even room for one in between the cabinets.  Lastly, depending on how old your home is, each room may seem smaller because of a closed floor plan.  For example, I have four solid walls separating my kitchen from the rest of the house.  In a more modern home, the kitchen usually flows into a dining area, which then leads to the rest of the house – giving it a much more open and spacious feel.

So if you prefer the character and construction of older homes, keep in mind that there may be more hidden expenses such as necessary electrical updates or a new roof to budget for.

New House: More Energy Efficient, Less Distinctive

Despite the fact that I bought an older home, I much prefer the amenities and convenience of newer homes.  The reason I chose an older home was because many older neighborhoods in my area are more affordable than the new subdivisions.  Older homes tend to be smaller, and thus cheaper in my situation.

However, if you have the option to pick from newer homes of say 0-10 years old, then you definitely have some benefits that older homes cannot provide.  The most obvious perks are that you won’t have to worry about the heating and cooling system, condition of the roof, safety of the electrical system (many older homes don’t have grounded wiring on all the outlets), or the age of the plumbing.

Beyond those basics, newer homes are also usually more energy efficient with better insulation, windows, and heating and cooling system.  The closets and rooms are generally bigger, and the floor plan is much more open to create a more spacious feel.

However, newer homes often cannot provide the distinctive charm that older homes have.  In fact, many newer subdivisions have homes that are almost identical to one another.  Many homeowners also value the historical component of their homes, as many older homes represent a certain style of an era.

So now you can decide which type of home suits your situation better, and begin eliminating listings that don’t fit the bill.  Shopping for a home can be an overwhelming process, but very rewarding once you have considered all the pieces and chosen the perfect home.

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