Should you buy an old or new house - that is the question?

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If you’re buying a house you’ll be spending lots of time online looking at real estate websites, flicking through the property press or driving around suburbs - it’s hard work trying to find the ideal home.

Around our cities and towns you’ll see a huge range of house types - rarely are they the same - some will be old and looking tidy, some are do-ups, while others are brand spanking. 

This variety is all about styles and size, but also age.  One question everyone has when house-hunting is do I buy new, old or even slightly old?  And there are advantages and disadvantages for all these options.

To help you decide which age is right for you, here we talk about the various pros and cons - but first a few definitions.

There are old homes, new homes, and mid-old ones

Old homes are typically those built over 25 years ago and have probably had two or more owners, so they will probably need some fixing up, repairs, or simply altering because your tastes won’t be the same as previous owners.

New homes are those where you are the first, or maximum the second owner, and have been built within the last five years - the brand spanking ones won’t even have a blemish on the walls.

There are also homes that are considered as “mid old”. Typically, these would have been built between 1990 and 2015. With this type of home, you’ll probably need to upgrade certain aspects of the property such as the paint and fixtures.

However, and it’s a big HOWEVER, the main concern when buying a mid-old home is to be sure the structure is watertight and isn’t leaky.  If you are considering a house of this age it’s imperative you get a detailed survey, especially if it has plaster cladding and was built in the 1990s or early 2000s.

Whatever age home you buy, much of decision will be based on personal choice.  Some people are natural DIYers or homemakers, and want or need a project, while others want a contemporary place that’s instantly liveable so they can get out and do other things.  Easy-care is the often used description.

Whatever your choice, there are arguments for and against.

Old homes - tried and tested, but TLC needed?

Some will make you cringe, others will bring out memories of childhood and many will just be dreams.  People have different emotions about older homes.  Here are some pros and cons of buying one.

The pros of being the owner of an older home


When compared like-for-like to new builds, old homes are more affordable because they will usually require more money to be spent on maintenance, upkeep and alterations.  Keep in mind though, there are many factors involved that will determine how affordable an older home will be such as its quality, whether it’s already been upgraded and its location.


The Villa, bungalow, art deco, state houses or the seventies house, there are many styles of Kiwi houses with enormous character.  You may have grown up in one and want to own a particular style yourself.  They all have history and a legacy, and stories to tell and some people like this in a home.  

Edge in negotiations

There is much more room to negotiate the purchase price of older homes, especially if a survey reveals some issues need to be addressed.

Larger sections and more established

Older homes tend to be on larger sections, and gardens will be more established, ideal if you are green-fingered.

The cons

Energy costs

Older homes are not as energy efficient because they usually have older heating systems and insulation, or none at all. So, if you choose an old home, keep in mind you may pay a bit more for power bills or have the cost of updating heating and insulating, which can be costly if you need to re-gib.


Older homes often have issues with things like wiring, plumbing, flooring, painting, drainage and other areas, so the money you save on buying an old property may need to be spent on necessary upgrades. If the problems are particularly severe, you could end up spending more than what you might have if you bought a brand new home.  But if you just like the feel of an old home, this will all be worth it.

Limited storage

Let’s face it, we have a lot more stuff now than people used to, so storage was never high on the list of needs in older houses, and things like walk-in cupboards were just pie-in-the-sky.  People now, need more storage so an older home can have drawbacks when it comes to storage space. 

New homes - be the first, or second, across the threshold

The pros of going brand spanking new


New homes are designed following current building standards and codes. They are also built using only materials that have undergone strict quality control and have been guaranteed by builders as safe for consumers. When you buy a new home, you can rest easy knowing that your property is in ideal condition and it should come with a guarantee on workmanship and product quality.

Energy efficient

New homes are six times more energy efficient than older homes. With the boom in eco-friendly buildings, new homes also generate 60 percent less carbon dioxide. This makes them ideal if you want to save money on your power and be eco-friendly at the same time.

Little-to-no maintenance

If your new home is brand new you can just move in and start living without any worry about initial repairs or changes - this is a hassle free option.

Ease of decoration

A new home is essentially a blank slate, so you have more freedom to design and decorate it as you please. It’s cheaper too, because you don’t have to spend money on preparing the surfaces for decorating.


The nice smell of new carpet - it’s clean too! 

The cons of buying new


Naturally, brand new homes are a more expensive than older homes - people in New Zealand like new homes and will pay a premium for them.  They are definitely easier but this comes at a cost.

In contrast to old homes, it is also more difficult to negotiate when it comes to new homes.


New homes haven’t been tried and tested and don’t have the old bones of homes built over 25 years ago.  Sadly, the leaky building issue has raised questions about building standards that put some people off buying new. 

Lack of outdoor space

In addition to their similar designs, plenty of new homes are positioned very close to one another because builders want to increase their profits by maximising the land. This gives you very little yard space for outdoor activities

Mid-old homes

The pros and cons of houses in the middle of these two eras are similar to those of old homes. 

However, the most important job to do if you are buying a home built any time between 1990 and 2012, is to have a very thorough survey from a reputable professional.  This is the same advice we would provide to anyone buying a house, however, you need to be extra aware of homes in this era.

Homes built in this era don’t necessarily have issues but people need to be aware of the problems that have occurred as a result of the leaky building crisis.

Be analytical in your approach as the last thing you want as a home-owner is to be caught up in issues related to build quality.  It can be very expensive and stressful.

A home is a home is a home

Whether you like the classic design feel, or want to be contemporary and on-trend, buying a home should be an exciting time in your life.  It does boil down to personal preference but once you are an owner your property becomes a major investment and whatever age it is you will still want to make it your own and decorate and upgrade to your own tastes.

Old or new, if you need some home loan advice, we love nothing more than helping people get into their dream home.  Just give Taurus Home Loans a call and we’d love to catch up to talk home loans, and buy you a coffee.


Paul Townsend 
Mobile: 027 352 6262
Phone: 03 366 6087


Posted 27 Apr 2018