photography by BRITTANY AMBRIDGE
Modern amenities? Check. Zero maintenance? Check. Move-in ready? Check. There are a lot of major bonuses to purchasing a newly-constructed home—because let’s be honest, old home woes can cause some serious stress, both financially and emotionally. But while we love the idea of a little upkeep and contemporary finishes, it turns out that where you live matters a lot when it comes to deciding whether you should go all in on some new construction, or stick to buying an older home.
According to a recent national report by Trulia, new homes cost 1.3 times (or 28 percent) more than older homes. Makes sense, right? The more updates a home checks off your list, the more you pay. But after taking a look at new home listings over the past five years, the study also discovered that in some cities, residents pay a lot more for the comfort of granite countertops and under-cabinet lighting than in other metropolitan areas.
One important rule of thumb: The older the town, the more expensive the new homes. “If a city is mostly filled with old homes, then a new home will look more attractive in comparison,” Trulia’s Housing Data Analyst, Alexandra Lee, reports. Take Detroit, where the median house age is 63, respectively. Ranked as the number one worst city to buy a new home, owners will pay about 3.2 times more for a new home in this city than if they purchased an older abode. And while that gap might seem steep, it’s also important to note that residents are also getting the largest increase in lot size and square feet.
So, where can you get the most bang (er—upgrades) for your buck? Try heading south or west. The best cities to buy new construction include places like Oakland, CA, Portland, OR, and Austin, TX. However, always charming Charleston, SC, steals the number one spot—new homes here are only 6 percent more expensive than older houses. But like with any great deal, there’s a catch: Lot sizes for new properties are about 30 percent smaller in Charleston, so you’ll have to be okay with sacrificing some space.
It’s important to figure out what your priorities are as a potential buyer earlier on, and really decide what location, age, amenities, size, and upkeep truly mean to you—and your budget. This rings especially true for millennials, who we know account for more than a third of all homebuyers. Regardless, if that new home smell is something you just can’t give up, take a quick peek at the best and worst lists of places to buy a new home below.
The Best Cities to Buy a New Home