Should You Buy a New or Second-Hand Home? A Quick Pro-Con List
Ah, the eternal dilemma in house hunting: should you buy a new or second-hand home?
A classic period house with elegance and character, lots of space, and a garden, or a brand spanking new apartment with the latest energy-saving features and futuristic technology?
Whether you’re a first-time buyer or an existing homeowner, the question of whether to buy a new or second-hand home remains a valid and important one.
There’s a lot to consider, from location to space, aesthetics to mod cons. It can be a daunting process to go through even if this isn’t your first purchase. Having options is always a good thing, but it doesn’t necessarily make it an easy choice.
To navigate you through the process, we’ve compiled a quick pro-con list to help you check the boxes and objectively review your choices based on your priorities.
Buying a new home eliminates the stress and frustration of the bidding process for second-hand homes. With a fixed price, you know exactly how much it costs upfront and whether it’s within your budget. No disappointments from having your heart set on a place and then losing it to a higher bid.
First-time buyers can seek assistance through the Help-to-Buy Scheme—an assistance programme by the Irish Government to help new buyers get on the property ladder.
Under the scheme, first-time buyers can secure a €20,000/5% rebate on a brand new property, up to a purchase price of €500,000. So if this is your first purchase, you might want to factor this into your decision-making process.
Energy & Cost-Efficient
Besides shiny new interiors, a newly-built property tends to benefit from the latest energy-saving technology and insulation, making it far more cost-efficient to maintain in the long run. If minimising your carbon footprint is an important criterion in your purchase decision, then this is an obvious plus.
Modern Layouts & Convenient Facilities
If you value modern living, a new property fully decked with all mod cons, flexible open-plan layouts, attractive landscaping and the like might offer better value than an old property in need of extensive repairs.
Resale Value Subject to Fluctuations
For buyers where resale value plays an important part in the decision-making process, it’s important to bear in mind that new homes can experience fluctuations in value due to market shifts or economic trends. This is an area you might want to do due diligence on so as to manage your expectations.
The Social Element
If you value your privacy, space, and social boundaries, newly-built properties might present certain challenges in the form of noisy neighbours, limited living and storage space, and restrictive communal rules and regulations. It might be worth looking into the social aspects of the building if it’s something that concerns you.
Character & Quality
Old houses, particularly period properties, are typically valued for the rarity factor that makes sense from an investment perspective. They also benefit from higher quality workmanship and project a distinctive character and charm.
By far the most compelling reason to buy a second-hand home would be the central location of most used properties. The convenience of being close to work and all the modern amenities and services we rely on in our daily lives makes a huge difference.
There are often pre-established transport links, bigger shopping hubs & just overall better access to what you need, than in newer communities.
Space & Land
If you love gardening or wish to have a dog, getting a second-hand property with a nice bit of garden would be far more appealing compared to the compact living conditions of new apartments with limited space.
The focus for developers is to balance cost & lifestyle so they want to fit as many new homes on a development site as possible, while still providing some green space. This means that often second hand homes are sat on bigger parcels of land, because they were built during a time when space wasn't at the same premium it is today.
This is one where you should consider your lifestyle goals, particularly with our newfound way of living. If you'd prefer a low maintenance yard where you can eat outside when the weather is nice, then the size of a new home probably ticks the boxes.
However, if you are picturing yourself planting a vegetable garden, copious amount of open grass, an outdoor seating area plus maybe a shed or studio then you might need to look at existing homes.
High Maintenance & Not Energy-Efficient
Possibly the biggest downside of second-hand properties is that they generally cost a lot to maintain. Without central heating and good insulation, power and electricity could cost a small fortune depending on the size of the house. Don’t be misled into thinking it’s a good bargain just because of the lower purchase price.
There are options though - you can improve the energy rating & the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) offers home grants that can help you with the insulation, heating, solar etc. This does take time & money but if you find your dream home it's a good option to keep in mind.
Expensive to Renovate
Renovating has pros & cons in itself. The obvious cons are that it can be expensive, take longer than anticipated, be a nightmare to live through & you never know quite what you're tackling until you get started.
The pros are that you are tailoring an existing home to suit your lifestyle & taste, so the end result is a property that is customised for you, while retaining it's original charm.
To Sum Up
There are pros and cons to each; there’s really no wrong choice whether you opt for a new property or a second-hand home. It’s simply a matter of being clear on your priorities and weighing up the good and bad of both in regards to what you can afford and what you need in a home. Happy house hunting!