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Lower Operating Costs Mean New-Home Buyers Can Afford More House

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large_homeDuring New Homes Month in April, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is showing home buyers why they can afford a higher-priced home—if it’s new construction. Using data from the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2011 American Housing Survey, NAHB found that buyers can purchase a more expensive newer home and achieve the same annual operating costs as an older, existing home.

“Home buyers need to look beyond the initial sales price when considering whether to buy new construction or an existing home,” says NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “They will find that with the higher costs of operating an older home, they can often afford to spend more to buy a new home and still have annual operating costs that fit their budget.”

NAHB’s study first looked at how utility, maintenance, property tax and insurance costs vary depending on the age of the structure. It found that homes built before 1960 have average maintenance costs of $564 a year, while a home built after 2008 averages $241. Similarly, operating costs average nearly 5 percent of the home’s value for pre-1960 structures, while they average less than 3 percent when the home was built later than 2008.

The study then compared the first year after tax cost of owning a home by the year the house was built, taking into account the purchase price, mortgage payments, annual operating costs and income tax savings. This data showed that a buyer can afford to pay 23 percent more for a new house than for one built before 1960 and still maintain the same amount of first year annual costs.

While mortgage payments will be greater with the higher purchase price of a newly-built home, the lower operating costs mean the home buyer will have annual costs that are about the same as if they’d bought a lesser-priced, older home with a smaller mortgage payment and higher operating expenses.

Other benefits of new homes include open space floorplans, creative storage options and entertainment resources that cater to modern lifestyles, as well as the safety consideration that the structure was built and wired to modern codes and standards.

“For a family working with a fixed annual budget, new-construction homes offer outstanding comfort, convenience and overall cost savings,” says Judson. “Put that together with today’s near-record low interest rates and competitive prices, and the time has never been better to buy a new home.”

Home buyers can access home buying and home building information and resources on NAHB’s website at www.nahb.org/forconsumers.

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