House Age: What It Does (Doesn’t) Tell Us

house age does affect price with newer homes getting higher pricesHouse age might tell you a lot about prospective houses you’re looking to buy, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s true that new construction homes get higher prices because you’re getting a brand new property that’s never been lived in and often, you can select the finishes you want like appliances, flooring and paint colors.

People have clear preferences about buying new versus used cars. Funny that we refer to existing homes as “older homes” rather than “used homes”, and it makes sense because older cars have a shorter lifetime expectancy while older homes, especially those built before the 1900s, can last for 100s of years when built with quality materials. 

House Age: Reasons to Buy New (and Newer) Homes

There are some very good reasons to buy a new or newer home, as shows on HGTV clearly illustrate how features vary depending on house age. Of course you first want to consider location, which is the number one factor affecting your home’s value when you buy, and when you sell a house. You also want to consider the cost for utilities and newer homes cost less to heat and air condition because they have more insulation, have doors and windows that are more air tight and use water more efficiently.

Some home features are easier to update in older homes, i.e. you can replace older appliances with more energy efficient ones. Other home features like an open floor plan or a new furnace are more costly so let’s look at the top home features you get with today’s new (newer) homes:

  • Open concept floor plans – provide more usable and visible space by eliminating hallways, and newer homes tend to be larger than those built even 20 years earlier.
  • Energy efficient heating and cooling – from better insulation to more energy efficient heating and cooling systems consistent with building codes driving to reduce US energy use.
  • More contemporary home features consistent with the house age – including granite counter tops, stainless appliances and modern fireplaces.
If these features are high on your list of new home requirements, you ought to look at new/newer homes that fit your budget as updating more than 1 or 2 features will increase the cost of your new home.

House Age: Features Hard to Find in Newer Homes

Home construction is constantly changing to reflect new building codes, and the cost of  labor versus ready-to-install materials. Think about some of the beautiful homes in your town with the intricate wood trim that was carved by hand when these houses were built. A home’s exterior features reflect the house age, or more accurately the building standards is common use when built.

  • Larger yards with sidewalks and more established neighborhoods – are one of the benefits of buying an older home, unless you’re willing to live further away from town to get more land.
  • More intricate details providing character rarely found in new homes – like custom interior doors, attractive moldings and built-in shelving and drawers before mass produced cabinets were standard.
  • More affordable homes – are often found in older neighborhoods, as they have fewer of the new amenities found in new homes.
If you love the charm of older homes, you should factor in the cost of upgrading features you can’t live without. You don’t have to make all the changes at once. Spreading the cost over several years can make your dream home more affordable. Be careful not to over improve your home, i.e. you never want to have the most expensive home in the neighborhood as the price you get when selling is influenced by comparable sales with same house age, size, bedrooms, bathrooms and more.

House Age: How it Affects Your Housing Budget

House age affects the price you pay when buying a house. It makes sense that house prices reflect how up-to-date home features are, as newer features like a new roof and kitchen appliances are worth more because they’ll last longer. The charts here (shared by Joe Manausa, a Tallahassee realtor) illustrate home prices based on house age.

house age affects the price of the houseWhat is surprising is how many homeowners don’t understand that most home systems need to be replaced around 20 years of age. This means a home built 30 years earlier that already has a new roof, windows, furnace and appliances should be worth more than a 20 year old house where a new homeowner can expect to replace all these home features in the next 5 years.

Where Americans used to move every 5 to 7 years, we gambled that we could defer major replacement items. Now that we’re moving less often, averaging 10 to 12 years and longer, it’s time to budget 2 to 3% of your home’s value each and start replacing home systems before you find yourself in crisis mode with a leaky roof or no air conditioning. Once you know your house age, you can start planning using these articles:

Does house age matter to you? New or older?

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