Blog :: 08-2010

New Construction vs an Existing Home- Which is Best for My Family?

The real estate market in Vermont is filled with great opportunities to buy both new and existing construction. Opportunities abound for the discerning house hunter in nearly every price category. The available inventory of new and existing homes coupled with the record low interest rates offer once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. But should you build new, or buy and existing home? Today I will outline benefits and drawbacks to both.

Buying a New Construction

Essex VT New Homes for Sale

New Construction in Essex

  • Have it the way you want it! Being a broker and developer of new homes in the Burlington, Essex, South Burlington, and Williston areas of Chittenden County, I am constantly speaking to home buyers that are looking into new construction, and the reason they chose to build new is that they can have the home theyWANT to have, and not buy someone else's idea of a great home. Most builders will offer a variety of floorplans to chose from, and if you get in early enough you can even customize certain elements of the design. Want a tile shower instead of fiberglass? No problem. Want to make the deck a few feet bigger?You've got it. Prefer hardwood for the downstairs living room instead of tile? Fine. These questions are not so easily answered when buying a pre-existing home, and simple renovations can cost much more than if you were to do them at the time of construction!
  • Be the only one that has lived in your home! It may sound obvious, butit isabsolutely worth mentioning. When you buy new, you are not dealing with someone else's sense of decor that you may have to spent a great deal of money to make it the way you want it.New Construction is like a clean, new slate to work with. Paint the colors you wish, and you also won't feel the need to steam clean every carpet in the place before you let your kids in the house. They'll be brand new, ready for YOUR family's spills and stains- not someone elses!
  • Energy Efficiency Most people do not consider this, but I personally think it is the first thingthat SHOULD be considered when evaluating whether to buy a new or existing home. Most (not all, unfortunately)builders that are constructing new homes these days are using the latest GREEN building techniques- high efficiency windows, ultra- efficient heating and boiler units, and advanced framing and insulating techniques to name a few. All of these techniques and building practices REALLY make a difference when you are looking at the costs and comfort levels of new and existing homes (evenwhen comparing relatively"young " homes- 5 years!) Less draft in the winter, cooler living areas in the Summer, and LESS MONEY EVERY MONTH spent on heating/ cooling/ electricity costs are some of the benefits you will see with buying a newer home. (More so if it is Green Certified, of course!)

Buying an Existing Home

Colchester VT Home for Sale

New Construction in Essex

  • No need to wait! The average time to build a new home can range anywhere from 15-20 weeks. Obviously, if time is NOT on your side to wait for your new home to be built, an existing home may be the best option for you. Buying a new home may take an additional level of coordination, especially when you are selling another home to make the purchase possible. Typically, most sellers of existing homes are willing to wait for you to officially close on your current home to make the sale work, because the time frame is usually only a few weeks. Buying a new home adds a bit more time to the buying process, which in turn can take some more coordination when you are selling your home to make the new home purchase a reality.
  • The Benefit of Buying in an "Established Area" There is a great deal to be said about buying in a neighborhood that has been around for years. For one, it is easy to see how people have been maintaining their homes, and if home values have stood the test of time. If they have, you can feel confident with relative certainty that the trend will continue for years to come. Also, older existing neighborhoods often have an established since of community-- a benefit that typically takes years to establish in a newly built community.

There are obvious benefits to both options- buying new and existing. You and your family will need to weigh the pros and cons to both. Luckily, vtbuyer.com offers a "new construction" search criteria that allows you to search for ONLY new construction if you wish, to aid in your search process. Feel free to also search for existing and established neighborhoods in our "popular neighborhood" section, or peruse homes by Town; the possibilities are endless.

Looking for a Luxury Condo in Burlington?

Try Westlake or College and Battery - You will not be disappointed with either!

View looking South West towards Lake Champlain from Westlake

Burlington is a great city. It has a mix of charm, character, and vibrancy you will not find in other cities. Part of the great diversity in Burlington is some of the terrific housing opportunities for the discriminating buyer. Two projects that should not be over-looked in your home search are Westlake and College and Battery. Both projects offer unique benefits, as well as some of the best views in Burlington! Enjoy some of the finest sunsets in the world from either building.

College and Battery

College and Battery was constructed in 1997, and was quickly hailed as one of Burlington's premier addresses. Dousevicz Inc. was the general contractor for the project, andwasone of the exclusive listing agents for the original salesof the condominiums for the market. College and Battery is conveniently situatedclose to the waterfront and the Church St Marketplace. Enjoy all that Burlington has to offer; shopping, excellent restaurants,and cultural icons such as the Flynn Theater- all right from your front door. Most units even have fantastic views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains. Along with a convenient location to downtown Burlington, and the waterfront park, you will also enjoy such amenities as:

  • Secureand private parking (something that is becoming a luxury in Burlington in it's own right!)
  • Open floor plan units ranging from 1 bedroom to 3+. (A penthouse will come on themarket occasionally!)
  • Quality construction throughout, with attention to detail in each unit.
  • Private storage in the basement for each unit.
  • Location, Views, and Location!

The Westlake

Westlake Condos in Burlington VT | Downtown Burlington Condos

View looking South West towards Lake Champlain from Westlake

The quick sale of many units during the first year of marketing quickly put Westlake on the map as one of Burlington's premiere addresses. A majority of the units have sweeping 180 degree views of the Burlington waterfront, and like College and Battery, Westlake boasts one of the best locations in town; conveniently situated between the Waterfront of Lake Champlain and the Church St Marketplace.

Some of the amenities you will enjoy at Westlake:
  • Luxurious finishes. Each unit at Westlake was finished with the finest in materials. Granite countertops, top of the line appliances, exotic wood floors and tile are just some to mention here!
  • Private parking and storage. Each unit at Westlake comes with a minimum of 2 private parking spaces in the attached underground and private garage. Like the parking at College and Battery, parking at Westlake is a coveted benefit.
  • Each unit is 2 Bedroom, with 2 Baths, and most units have an additional den. Some of the units have been completely customized, which offers a great deal of diversity you will not find in other similar projects.
  • Like at College and Battery; Location, Views, and Location!
College St Burlington Condos | Battry St Burlington Condos

View looking South West towards Lake Champlain from Westlake

Whether you prefer to live at either of these exlcusive properties, it is a good idea to view your options at both. They eachoffer their own unique benefits.Enjoy working witha broker with the construction and real estate experience with both projects-- which may be your greatest resource when purchasing a condo in either project.

Call Brad today to discuss your options at College and Battery or Westlake.

What Makes a Home 'GREEN'?

What does aa Green Home actually mean?

Check your local real estate listings, and you are bound to find plenty touting that they are "Green." But how do you really know they are in, fact "Green?" As one of Vermont's few CGP's (Certified Green Professionals) and a developer of certified homes with the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders), I am trained in Green Construction and know what to look for in a "GREEN" home. The average homeowner, however, may not have this level of expertise. So what should you look for in a "GREEN" home?

The following are a few simple things you should look for when evaluating the Green level of a new or existing home:

  • The first thing to look for-- is it certified GREEN? So many homes claim they are green, but until a VALID 3rd party certifies the home, the claim does not mean much of anything. There are plenty of local resources that can certify homes, and a few you should look for are Efficiency Vermont and NAHB. There are other organizations out there cerifying home, and a quick internet search can validate their authority. Just callinga home green doesn't make it so, and a valid Green home is sure to be certified.
  • One of the first things you should remember is you can not spell grEEn with out Energy Efficiency. How efficientlyhomes use resources is one of the paramount factors when determining if a home is green or not. A great thing to look at for and estimate on energy efficiency for an existing home (if it is not certified green) are the previous utility bills. Preferably, bills for a recent heating season. Ask for electric, gas/oil, as a minimum--say, for January to March of the previous year. This is your best way to gauge efficiency, and is not something buyers typically ask for!
  • Insulation is critical. Obviously, this is easier to check on new construction, but anything over R-15 is considered adequate for new and existing construction. Also, check with the builder on how they insulate the foundation, and if there is a basement, do they insulate the walls and sheet rock as well. This will cut down on heat leakage in the critical winter months. And remember, Old homes (100 years or more)have a ton of character and charm, but many do not have limited (if any) insulation at all. This is certainly something to consider when purchasing an older home.
  • Windows are just holes in your walls! For this reason, make sure you have an efficient "hole in your wall." Check the quality and energy rating of the installed windows. How old are the windows? Do they have any frost build up in the winter months? If they are new, what is their energy rating? If it is new construction, ask to see the caulking around an unfinished unit. Properly sealing a window can do wonders to limit "air infiltration." There are plenty of great, energy efficient windows on the market these days. If you are considering purchasing an older home that may need new ones, build this cost into your home buying budget. It can save you 10-fold in future heating and cooling costs.
  • Ask for a "blower air test" if the home is not certified, at a bare minimum. All certified Green homes will have one done, and it is essentially a test that measures air infiltration from "unanticipated" areas of the home- windows, fireplaces, joints, etc. Efficiency Vermont can perform them at a minimum cost, and they are worth every penny. As a side note, if the home tests very well for the blower air test, make sure you have fans in the bathrooms of the homes, and that they are on timers. You will need to introduce fresh air with today's "tighter" built Green homes, and automatic bathroom fans are an easy and inexpensive way to do just that.
  • Are the lighting fixtures and appliances "Energy Star" rated? Efficient lighting fixtures, for example, can cut energy consumption by 1/2 or more. Combine energy efficient appliances into the equation, and you are talking serious energy savings!

Buying a GREEN home is not only good for the planet, it is good for your wallet.

Consider this when looking at newer certified Green Construction, vs an older, non-certified green home. Your energy savings for a new home can potentially save $1000's per year! Also, consider working with a proven professional, with history in Green real estate for your next home purchase. As a Certified Green Professional, and a developer of locally certified Green homes in the Burlington area, Dousevicz Real Estate is poised to offer a unique level of experience in Green Construction as you search for the perfect lakefront home in Shelburne, Colchester, or Charlotte, or the finest home or condominium in Burlington, Essex, South Burlington, and the surrounding areas.

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The Value of a Real Estate Broker with Development and Construction Experience in Vermont

In one wordPriceless. Dousevicz Real Estate has developed some of the areas most recognizable developments in the greater Burlington and Chittenden County area. In this time, I have personally worked with buyers and sellers alike, and I have witnessed many transactions where the buyer or buyers agent just did not have the experience in New Construction as they should. Why is this important? Because buying a new home can be a much different experience than buying a pre-existing home.

Questions you need to ask when buying a new home

Although there are some talented and experienced agents out there, most (if any) do not have the required level of experience that is necessary when buying a new home. For example:

  • Do they have the experience to ask what level of finish is included with the home?
  • What is the energy rating, and what is the builder doing to ensure the home is Green Certified?
  • What comes standard with the home, and are upgrades available?
  • Is the builder requiring that construction loans be provided by the purchaser, or will the home be turn-key and paid for upon completion?
  • What if there are delays with construction?
  • What subcontractors does the builder work with?
  • Are there other projects the builder has worked with, and if so, are there testimonials or references that can be checked?

These are just some of the questions that immediately come to mind in the purchase of a new home, and unfortunately they often go un-asked!

Combining development and construction experience

The good news is Dousevicz Real Estate is poised to fill the need when buyers wish to purchase a new home in Burlington, Essex, South Burlington, Shelburne, or the greater Chittenden County area. Because we have actual development and construction experience - we know exactly the questions to ask when working with a builder to construct the home of your dreams. Whether it a luxury home on the lake, or a home in a newly developed subdivision in South Burlington, Dousevicz Real Estate can use their unprecedented experience to guide buyers through the often complicated buying process of new construction.