Modern features, customizable options and reduced maintenance are among the many reasons most Americans — twice as many to be exact — would prefer purchasing a new home rather than an existing home, according to the latest online survey from Trulia, a leading online residential real estate site. Of the more than 2,000 survey respondents interviewed last spring, 41 percent said they’d prefer buying a new home, whereas only 21 percent would choose an existing home. The remaining 38 percent of respondents had no preference.
While the overall numbers are quite convincing that Americans want to buy new, not everyone actually is willing to pay the higher price tag for a new home. According to the Trulia research, new 2013 and 2014 homes cost on average 20 percent more than older homes — a number that seems to deter nearly half of the people who would prefer a new home from actually purchasing one. Combining both the preference and willingness to pay, only 17 percent said they prefer a new home and would pay at least 20 percent more to own one.
Although homebuyers initially may pay more for a new home, the overall price might not reflect the actual cost in the long run. According to a 2011 American Housing Survey, homes built in the past four years cost about $25 less per month for maintenance compared with all homes. The maintenance savings, combined with deals from homebuilders looking to move existing new-home inventory, could end up saving homebuyers more money if they choose new versus a resale home.
Price difference aside, new-home buyers cited numerous reasons for choosing a new home over an existing home. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, two-thirds of new-home sales are signed before construction is completed, showing buyers want the option to customize.
Additionally, nearly 65 percent of respondents from the Trulia online survey who strongly prefer a new home also want the option to customize, with the same amount of respondents wanting modern features like bigger closets, a kitchen island and open floor plans. Throw in a new home’s energy-efficient construction and it’s not hard to fathom why so many potential buyers would lean in this direction.
• Andy Warren is president of Arizona homebuilder Maracay Homes, part of the TRI Pointe Homes family of builders. He serves on the board of directors and as an executive committee member with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and is a past board member of the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona. He is also a member of Greater Phoenix Leadership and an active member of the Urban Land Institute.