Recently-built homes are selling like crazy in Texas. They offer advantages over older homes, as well as disadvantages. Learn more about both sides.
When we shop for a home, we tend not to use the same kind of vocabulary that we use for other purchases. We usually don’t refer to the process as “shopping,” for starters. We also don’t have a clear way to state whether we want to buy a home in which someone else has lived or a brand-new home.
We might use the term “new home” in either situation, e.g. “I bought a new home! It was built in 1958!” The term “recently-built” appears to be favored by homebuilders and others to describe homes that are literally new. We still don’t have a distinct term for homes that have already had owners — words like “used,” “pre-owned,” and “preoccupied” aren’t used in the real estate world. As for whether you should consider buying a recently-built home, the decision comes with pros and cons. The following is an overview of both.
New Home Construction in Texas
Housing prices are booming all across Texas, in part because the demand for housing has exceeded the supply for several years now. The COVID-19 pandemic is one — but not the only — factor driving this demand.
One might be tempted to think that a lack of new construction may account for the difference between supply and demand. The evidence does not bear this out, though. In fact, reports from both industry and academia have shown that new home construction has increased over the past few years in major Texas cities, but simply has not been able to keep up with demand from prospective homebuyers.
Pros of Buying a Recently-Built Home
Buying a recently-built home can offer several possible advantages over older homes.
If you are able to purchase a home before the builder has finished it, you might be able to play a role in its design. The builder could provide you with options regarding floor plans, appliances, and fixtures. You might even be able to add your own unique touches to the home from the very beginning.
Builders often take energy efficiency into account when building new homes. Recently-built homes often have much tighter seals to keep A/C from escaping, for example.
Recently-built homes may have state-of-the-art amenities ranging from major appliances to network connectivity. Older homes can be upgraded to include these kinds of features, but the features can blend into newer homes more easily.
Texas law identifies two implied warranties that apply to recently-built homes regardless of whether a builder states that they provide them:
- The implied warranty of good workmanship states that the builder has performed their work in a good and workmanlike manner, and that the home is free of major defects.
- The implied warranty of habitability states that the home is fit for human habitation.
These warranties amount to the bare minimum that a homebuyer should expect from a builder. Many builders provide much more comprehensive warranties that cover a variety of repairs.
Fewer Maintenance Needs and Lower Costs
Many recently-built homes are designed to require less ongoing maintenance. For example, composite materials used in a home’s exterior are less prone to wood rot and other problems. The mere fact that a home is new may also mean that it has less need of maintenance or repairs. This can lead to lower costs for the homeowner.
Cons of Buying a Recently-Built Home
Recently-built homes can also present some disadvantages.
No Test of Time
The phrase “They don’t make ‘em like they used to” is not technically true. We tend to think of past decades as having higher standards of workmanship because we only have access to items from those eras that have survived until today. Old homes that exist today have only made it this long because they were well-built and well-maintained. The ones that weren’t have long since collapsed or been demolished.
The point here is that you don’t know whether a recently-built home will stand the test of time. You also don’t know what you need to worry about because the home hasn’t had enough time to reveal its problem areas. You’ll have to wait to find out if certain weather conditions affect the foundation, to name just one possible example.
Fewer Required Disclosures
Owners of older homes are required by law to disclose various problem areas. They have experienced the home’s issues, and now they have to tell prospective homebuyers about them. The new owner will have more of an idea of what to expect. Disclosure requirements only apply to conditions that are known to the seller. In a brand-new home, there might be nothing to disclose because nothing has gone wrong yet. The most important word in the last sentence is “yet.”
Ongoing Construction in New Communities
Many recently-built homes are located in new subdivisions. Buying a home in this type of area could mean ongoing construction all around you for the first few years that you live there. Many of these subdivisions also have few trees or other natural features until newly-planted trees start to mature.
Distance from City Centers
Recently-built homes are often located in under-developed areas. As cities in Texas grow, these areas are farther away from the cities themselves. Depending on what you do for work, this could mean longer and longer commutes.
But with how quickly Texas is growing – especially in the Central Texas area – these under-developed areas are likely to spring up with new business and schools quickly.
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