This is a difficult question to answer in general terms, but there are a few points to consider:
While certainly not always the case, older homes tend to be situated in established neighborhoods, which means they often have better facilities such as shops, transport and services around them. Newer homes, generally, tend to be further out and may not have the same easy access.
- An older home will usually have established gardens, landscaping paths, etc. These are most commonly additions to a new home, requiring both effort and expense.
- Older homes can sometimes have structural problems. Structural problems may be less likely in a new home and, if they are present, would normally be addressed by the builder's warranty. On the other hand, older properties can often be better built with superior material and they have stood the test of time.
- Older homes may have plumbing, roofing and wiring problems that can sometimes be expensive to rectify.
- As a generalization, newer homes are often better designed to be more suited to today's lifestyle.
They each have their pluses and minuses. You will need to make an individual choice based on your personal circumstances and preferences.
Buying an existing home or buying vacant land and constructing?
Buying an existing home might mean that you are able to buy in a more established area. This means you may have better access to services and transport.
An existing home will usually have things like gardens, paths, fences, etc., in place, saving you the cost and work involved in establishing them in a new property.
With an existing home, you are normally able to move in as soon as settlement occurs, possibly meaning that you do not have to find temporary accommodation, a scenario common when you purchase land and build a new home.
Building a new home means that you can select a construction, style and layout that perfectly suit your personal likes and dislikes.
A new home should not come with any wiring, plumbing or construction problems that can sometimes be found in an existing home.
When building a new home, it is common for delays to occur or disagreements to develop over the quality of workmanship or what was agreed upon or included in the purchase price.
In the end, it is really a matter of deciding what you want as you will most likely live in the home for a long period of time.
What are some of the other things I should consider when making a decision to buy a certain property?
You may have heard the old adage that the three most important features when considering the purchase of a property are "Location, Location, Location" because you can change anything about the structure (given time, money and council approval), but you cannot change where it is located.
Other things to consider are:
- Facilities that suit your lifestyle, e.g. children, cafes, theaters, restaurants and easy access to these.
- The condition of the property and whether you have access to ongoing funds for property maintenance.
- The public transport, roads and other infrastructure facilities, e.g. schools, hospitals.
- Do you suit a common title property such as a unit or townhouse, rather than a free standing home?
- Regular expenses and outgoings such as council rates, water rates and strata levies.
- If you have children, or are likely to have them in the future, what are the local schools like? How easy are they for the children to get to?
- Whether you prioritize capital gain, lifestyle, immediate rent return or a combination of these.
Is the property a "stepping stone" or do you intend to stay for a long time? If you intend to stay put for a long time, is the property suitable for extensions or development?
All in all, you need to find a property which is in an area that suits your personal lifestyle, at a price you are able to pay.