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As with all things in real estate, the answer is “it depends.” I’ve written about this quite a bit on Quora.

Thing is, people come in all shapes, sizes, colors, personalities, values, and priorities. If you value and/or are short on time, and don’t mind “inheriting” the decisions of others, then being a subsequent buyer can be convenient and economical in some instances. If, on the other hand, you want to select every.single.item that goes into finishing and decorating a home, from tile to countertops, flooring to wall color, light fixtures to window coverings, then sometimes it’s best to buy new. That said, buying a brand new home presents its own risks and challenges, including but not limited to, unseasoned structural condition. I’ve occasionally heard of new homes developing structural issues as the backfill has settled or water has eroded the foundation, so being “first in” can have disadvantages and occasionally, serious consequences.

The worst thing about being a second or subsequent buyer, as opposed to a first, is typically the host of construction defects that the original buyer failed to identify by having a resale-style home inspection, because they accepted the “builder walk-through” in place of a real inspection. The defects go undetected, and unaddressed, and tend to pass from one buyer to another throughout the lifespan of the property. Or else the first owner gets saddled with making out-of-warranty repairs and corrections to satisfy the next buyer, that their builder should have made prior to the first purchase. So if you do buy a new home, do yourself and every future owner of the property a favor, and get it professionally inspected by someone unaffiliated with your builder, and then ensure that the builder corrects those defects before you close on the purchase of the home.

Personally, I’d rather buy a resale that has either been recently and well remodeled to my own tastes, or buy something in desperate need of remodeling, and do it myself. The former ensures that you are buying a home that has stood the test of time, appeals to you aesthetically, affording little inconvenience, but you will usually pay top dollar for something you can move right into and enjoy. The latter allows maximum input from a design and decor standpoint, but may present more market risk in the near term, because construction and remodeling costs can be high (unless you yourself have what I call “skills” in which case, you are buying materials only) and markets can and do fluctate wildly. Fixing up your own property takes time, money, and patience, and there is nothing convenient about it, but it can be very rewarding both financially and intrinsically. Not all people are cut out for it, just like not all people are cut out for homeownership. There are varying degrees of “commitment” one can make to a property, and different properties require different things from a human-to-property standpoint. Humans, then, should be matched, or match themselves, to properties that don’t require more commitment than they are prepared to make and keep.

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