For many, buying a home is a rather romantic leap into adulthood. And, in an industry that turns houses into homes and ordinary folks into heroic homeowners, we stand on the shining principle that real estate is more than an exchange of cold hard cash for brick-and-mortar: it’s a life-changing step for many singles and families alike.
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Perhaps this romantic gravity is why the old British wedding tradition, “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” is almost a little too perfect when mirrored with the classic home-buying options: Should you go for a brand new build, an established home, or a rented unit? (Any of which could be blue...)
Given the nearly infinite amount of nuances and distinctions between the three, we think there are a handful of variables that matter most when making this decision. Before you scribble down a hasty answer to this rather complex domestic equation, consider the following pros, cons, and gray areas that exist between the options of new, old, and rented homes (specifically calculated for the Boerne buyer).
Buying a New House
The Aesthetics/Design: One of the biggest perks of buying a brand new build lies within the inherent “shiny newness” of such a purchase. Some buyers dream of swinging open that pristinely painted front door and spreading rugs across those flawless wood floors. There’s a certain romance in being the very first residents of a house. And besides the sheen of new appliances and finishes, new homes also boast modern design concepts, open floor plans, and other enviable details that have evolved with the architectural trends of today.
The Convenience/Lifestyle: As stated above, newer homes are more equipped to provide for the needs and lifestyles of the modern resident. The design concepts and day-to-day details will be naturally more relevant to modern life. Rather than dealing with outdated laminate floors, old dishwashers, and cramped storage spaces, new homes often boast stainless-steel appliances, walk-in closets, and energy-efficient features. In addition, many new homes offer the sprawling square footage that many families and move-up buyers crave.
The Location: Due to the nature of city development, new homes and neighborhoods are often located on the edges of existing development. This location on the outskirts of the city certainly has its pros and cons: the outlying location can provide privacy to those seeking a more tranquil living experience, while also making commute time a bit more inconvenient.
The Maintenance/Upkeep: Perhaps one of the biggest draws of a new home is the simple reassurance of a warranty. Because the home’s features are brand new, most new homeowners will receive at least a one-year warranty for labor and materials, as well as two years' protection for mechanical defects, and 10 years for structural defects.
Buying an Existing House
115 Woodland Ranch Rd: $950,000
The Aesthetics/Design: For all the romance found in a new home’s fresh coat of paint and crisp details, the whole brand-new-master-planned neighborhood thing can get a little boring to some buyers. For those who are less into cookie-cutter floor plans and more into unique details, existing and historic homes are an architectural solace. Thankfully, Boerne’s longstanding legacy of creative builders and Hill Country vibes ensure that existing homes (from grand historic to mid-century and beyond) offer the one-of-a-kind charm that many new homes lack.
The Convenience/Lifestyle: While the physical appliances and features of many older homes can’t be touted as particularly “convenient,” several features of existing homes contribute towards a particular lifestyle that many buyers value. Given the tendency for existing home to have more spacious yards, more mature trees and landscaping, and established neighborhood community, the residents who opt for older homes tend to take advantage of the whole “Hill Country small town” feel. For both the retiree looking for a simpler lifestyle and the parents who want their kids to experience classic Boerne values, existing homes offer a more traditional appeal.
The Location: The early bird gets the worm? Simply because they beat those new homes to the punch, existing homes usually call “dibs” on the best plots of land. Closer to premiere restaurants and shopping, local businesses, and the overall vibrant downtown Boerne community, older homes are primed and ready to receive the award for “best location in town.”
The Maintenance/Upkeep: Could you guess? Existing homes are far more likely to experience maintenance issues and require a more hawkish eye for upkeep. Popular advice suggests that homeowners set aside between 1% and 3% of your home's price for maintenance and repairs each year.
Renting A House
The Aesthetics/Design: Whereas we’ve been comparing and contrasting the differences between old and new homes, the concept of renting introduces a whole new set of pros and cons into the mix. When it comes to aesthetics and design, rented homes can represent the complete gamut of home styles and floor plans...however, the most relevant design factor lies in the renter’s limited (or total lack of) aesthetic control. Whereas homeowners can repaint walls, rip up carpet, and implement new landscaping, renters are at the mercy of the landlord’s (hopefully good) taste.
The Convenience/Lifestyle: Besides a (possibly unfounded) fear of the dreaded down payment, one of the biggest reasons for renting lies in the convenience factor. In an increasingly mobile (and travel-centric) society, flexibility and ease of transience are high values for many residents. If you decide to pick up and leave in a year, you’re able to do so without the hassle of selling your home.
The Maintenance/Upkeep: Need to fix something up? For issues as minor as a leak or major as foundation problems, your status as a renter sets you free of the responsibility of maintenance and upkeep. Depending on the details of your lease, your landlord will likely be responsible for damages that you did not directly incur. This means that “what you see is what you get” when it comes to monthly costs concerning your home.
The Ultimate Finance Factor: Ultimately, for many folks who are weighing the pros and cons of renting vs buying, the bottom line is financial. At first glance, renting seems like the least risky and less expensive option. But while renters may bypass the intimidating hurdle of a down payment, their monthly payments aren’t going anywhere but the landlord’s pocket. For homeowners, each monthly mortgage payment is essentially being deposited into a house-shaped investment (or “equity” if you’re into real estate terms). And while rent prices keep steadily rising across the country, those who can afford to buy are quickly considering home ownership to be the most lucrative option. (Click here for a more comprehensive breakdown between renting and owning!)
According to stats from Realtor.com, the median listing price in Boerne is currently $376k (although the median closing price is a more modest $210k). While this number can look incredibly daunting, monthly payments may be less than you think (check our "Rent or Buy Calculator to prove it!). We’re willing to bet that if you check the latest mortgage rates and meet with a lender, you’ll find home ownership more possible than you thought.