The opportunity to buy greenfield new builds is quickly slowing down due to the growth boundaries put on the Region of Waterloo. However, there are still many options for home buyers wanting something that hasn’t been occupied before, from infill townhouses to condos in the downtown core. So if you are looking for something new- you totally can have it.
But for those looking for something older with character and in a more established neighbourhood, Kitchener Waterloo has those options too! From our tell-a-tale yellow brick Victorian houses, cute little bungalows on the East End, to the old, winding roads of Colonial Acres and the stately homes of the 60’s, there is a housing type for everyone.
The question is: what are you looking for?
You might want to know some basic differences that homebuyers notice when home shopping for a new build versus shopping for an existing home.
It’s hard to really pinpoint the economics of an older home versus a new home. An older home might be cheaper per square meter at the list price, but there is usually a lot of maintenance that happens with an older home. It’s not just giving the dated elements a refresh- sometimes it’s even a matter of bringing old construction up to code, which in the case of electrical and plumbing, can be an expensive headache.
However, with a new building, the “starting at…” price is always just that: a start price. Most of the time you’ll see this price balloon as you start making little changes and customization to your unit. Don’t forget that you also need to pay HST on this purchase, which you don’t on a resale property.
While condos might throw a wrench in this generalization, new builds are usually on the peripheries of the city center, in “bedroom communities”. Though you might be close to things like the country, you’ll have a significant drive to the amenities of downtown and other services like hospitals or institutions like universities.
Older neighbourhoods are often in a more central location with “places to go” around it, be those expansive urban parks, libraries, shopping centers or more. You’ll find that they are usually better linked with lines of transit and have better walkability scores as items organically developed over time. For those who are looking to be less reliant on their vehicles, older neighbourhoods are usually more compatible with this lifestyle choice.
Style and Character
New build homes are built with today’s trends in mind. So if you like the looks you have been seeing in the developers’ model homes, you might want to consider building your home with them. There are no “design problems” to solve like you would have to with a resale home, as you start with a semi-clean canvas. Walls are easier to move on blueprints than they are once they are built.
Resale homes often have their own character- whether you like that particular style in mind. While you can always renovate to update certain features, it’s difficult to tastefully add these more eclectic elements to a new build.
If you have a specific move-in date in mind or a deadline, a new build might not be the option for you. Developers often deliver their units later than expected due to delays, so unless you have the patience to wait or aren’t that dependent on the date, you might want to start looking at existing homes.
However, if you are anxious to get into your new home, or just sold one and are looking for something to move into within a deadline, this could be a deal breaker. Resale homes can close quickly or with longer dates, all depending on the needs of the buyer and the seller. Let your real estate agent know your time restraints and she or he will do everything they can to make it work for you.
How much do you care about what’s outside your door? If you are moving into a new build, it might take a while for the construction to finish in your development, and in the meanwhile you’ll be hearing and seeing machinery, dealing with insane amounts of dust, driving on gravel roads, and waiting for your little trees to grow. However, chances are that your neighbors will be quite similar to you, in both socioeconomic and life stage aspects due to the developers’ marketing.
Older neighbourhoods are usually more mixed, with residents ranging from single professionals, to young families, and retirees. These resale homes have had the time to grow some beautiful mature trees in the front lawn, and don’t have the same amount of construction outside. Communities like this can have a cohesive feel however, as people build relationships over the time that they have lives there, and in some cases that can be a very long time.
Though these are all generalizations, in most cases, buyers looking at their options will agree with the differences between buying new build versus resale. Knowing whether you are interested primarily in new builds or resale homes will make the hunt for your dream home much easier, as your realtor can really focus her or his efforts on connecting the right property with the eager buyers.