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Weighing the benefits of new construction and existing homes

Pros and cons to consider while house hunting
Inspecting a home
New homes
Posted at 12:32 PM, Nov 24, 2023

New versus old – it’s a classic dilemma, especially when it comes to buying a home. For most Americans, a house is the biggest purchase they will ever make. That decision comes with a lot of pressure, so we’re looking at the common problems to watch for during the house hunting process.

“We have a ton of issues in both,” says Reuben Saltzman. The CEO of Structure Tech Home Inspections, Saltzman has been inspecting homes for decades. When it comes to issues, he says he’s seen it all.

Saltzman says there is no age of house that’s exempt from installation errors. Even if the build is brand new, he says there are things to watch out for.

“It’s jaw-dropping stuff that’s done wrong on brand new construction."
Reuben Saltzman

New homes currently occupy a large share of the real estate market. With mortgage rates higher than they’ve been in decades, many existing homeowners are holding onto their house longer because of the rate they have locked in. In September, the National Association of Home Builders found almost 30% of home sales were new construction. To put that into perspective, average numbers typically hover around 12%.

Still, no matter how eager you are to buy a house, Saltzman says you never want to skip the inspection. “The builders who are especially diligent, who really care about this, are actually going to encourage home inspections to make sure that they don't have problems fester.”

As for older homes, Saltzman says he often warns potential buyers about leaky pipes, faulty electrical wiring, and appliances that are starting to show their age. He says you can expect a long list of issues, but most won’t be deal breakers.

“If you hire a good home inspector, you're going to get a gigantic list of small items,” says Saltzman. “And that's your honey-do list.”

Finally, no matter where you plan to put down roots, Saltzman suggest focusing on the big issues when you negotiate, whether the home is brand new or a century old.