Owning a home

Buying old or buying new?

3 min read

When you’re looking to buy your next home, an original, ornate villa or similar character home seems romantic to some, but for others the idea of a brand-new home is what gets the heart racing. Those gracious, white, weatherboard villas and bungalows with mature gardens in established suburbs tend to conjure up feelings of a more sedate era. Or maybe you like the idea of everything being contemporary, state-of-the-art and brand spanking new. Well, before you decide to buy that character-filled homestead, or embrace your inner minimalist, consider some facts about each.


New homes are built with today’s lifestyles in mind and are generally easier to live in. They are built with more bathrooms and kitchens are often integrated with spacious living areas. Don’t expect an older house to be set up to effortlessly accommodate your media room. And yes, your enormous new flat-screen TV will look ridiculous hanging in the oak-panelled library. Flow was something far from the minds of most Victorian architects, so celebrate the idea of corridors and cubby-holes, or rule out character homes.


Historic or older homes will likely be located in the more established city suburbs while most new properties will usually be in recently developed areas further from the CBD. There are two plus points for the old home buyer. First, you know exactly what you are buying into when you move to an Epsom, Mount Albert or Parnell. Who knows what some of the new developer-created suburbs will eventually turn out like? Second, commuting to the city is easier from the old money suburbs. This is good for your sanity and is likely to be good for your bank balance when you sell.

Charm and personality

Older homes often have a character and individuality that simply cannot be found in new homes. If an older home looks good now, it’s likely to look good in another 20 years. That modern, stainless steel and matt-black and glass exterior may look spectacular now, but what will it age like? Is the design merely fashionable, or will it stand the test of time?

Buying old or buying new 2Gardens and landscaping 

Mature trees and established gardens add to the appeal of older homes. With new homes on a subdivision, buyers need to have imagination to visualise how that scrappy vegetation between the bulldozers might one day develop into a lush tropical landscape. Or will it? Landscaping is expensive and some developers may be tempted to skimp on the orchid count.


It’s strange how the charm and personality of your original villa can quickly evaporate when you are presented with the cost of replacing the rotten floorboards that have just given way under your cast-iron, claw-foot bathtub. Get used to the fact that old homes require maintenance – sometimes suddenly and in a big way – and if you are no handyman, that means expense. Make sure you factor maintenance and renovation costs into your purchase price budget when buying an older property. At least with a new home you get a warranty to cover any major problems while the house settles into its foundations.

In general, character homes in established suburbs have shown the greater potential for capital appreciation, certainly compared with new homes in recently manufactured neighbourhoods. However, it’s apparent now more than ever, that people are genuinely interested in living in low maintenance homes  so they can make more of their leisure time. Houses are being constructed on smaller sections but with larger floor areas. There is much to commend about buying a new home, but if you want to ensure value appreciation it’s important to choose one that displays some level of individuality, craftsmanship and character.

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