The Great Debate: Old vs. New Homes


By Jessica Botkin

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the question of old vs. new in real estate.

Ask yourself, do you enjoy a home with character and timeless style? Or, are you a fan of the starting-from-scratch approach, which begins from the ground up—literally—and creates something new, modern, sleek and, energy efficient?

First, let’s see what your preferences say about your preferred home type. Answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to these questions:

  1. Is an open floor plan important to you?
  2. Picture your dream home. Do you see a large, wrap around porch?
  3. Do you have a penchant for natural exterior finishes like cedar, wood or river rock?
  4. Are you someone who enjoys DIY remodeling projects?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to many of the questions above, then you’ve got a preference for older homes. If you answered ‘No,’ a new home may the right fit for you.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you prefer a house that has a long story to tell, and not one with a tale unwritten (I’m without question an old home girl). Still, the decision is completely personal, as dependent upon particular tastes as it is on the house you’ve always envisioned yourself transforming into a home.

There are, however, some noted constraints on the old vs. new home debate; as with many things, the almighty dollar still reigns supreme and I personally fell prey to a charming fixer-upper, complete with 100-year-old hardwood oak that required incredibly expensive (and not so charming) repairs. Of course, there are benefits and downfalls to old and new homes, so it may be prudent to examine things further before we see where we stand.

rr-home1-bicycleThe Old School Home

The epitome of American real estate is found with the early 1900s Sears craftsman home. Often featuring custom woodwork, cypress siding, cedar shingles and undeniable curb appeal, the Sears craftsman home boasts not only the look of quality construction but also the proven durability that has withstood the test of time.

The New Home on the Block

On the other end of the spectrum we have ‘McMansions’, also known as suburban ‘Titanic;s or ‘Big Bo’x houses. There is something irresistible about their open floor plans, generously sized rooms, master suites made for royalty, the ability to choose (for the most part) fit and finishes, and — wait, there’s more? — an almost-guaranteed social life that accompanies the large backyards fit for games of corn hole and neighborhood cookouts. Not to mention, all of this comes with a reasonable price tag and much lower utility bills than the craftsman counterpart. If this home doesn’t scream the Gen X/Millennial mantra of Life is Good, nothing does.

rr-home2Really, old vs. new boils down to the same old song: Life is about choices. Where you choose to live determines how you’ll spend your life, and who is to say how you should spend your life? As I wrap up this post, I’m off to enjoy the feel of 90-year-old wood floors … that is after I repair the cracks in my home’s plaster, solder copper plumbing, scrub the farmhouse sink and seal the butcher block counter tops. And that’s just fine by me.

JESSICA BOTKIN is an agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Professional Realty in Dayton, OH. To contact Jessica, send her an email,, or find her on Twitter, @Jessa8576 and Instagram.

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