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Buy an Old house or do I buy a new house

old house

Owning your own home is at the top of almost everyone’s wish list – no matter whether he’s lived his whole life here, or whether he just moved here from abroad. The purchase of your own home is one of the most important decisions in your life.

A fundamental question is of the type of property. Should it be a charming old building with a historical touch? Or are you rather looking for a modern design and have the desire for a new building? Old building or new construction – both property types have their respective pros and cons.

A brief overview: Definition of new and old buildings

The distinction between new and old buildings is not clearly defined. It is true that the tenancy law states that all buildings after 1949 are declared as new buildings. From this point on, concrete was primarily used in house construction and composite and insulated windows were used. All houses built before that date are therefore old buildings. But would you call a house that is already 60 years old a new building?

Therefore, different definitions apply. Architects define old buildings as buildings from the Wilhelminian era (between 1890 and 1918) with ceilings more than three meters high, floorboards and old parquet floors, wood-beamed ceilings, stucco ornamentation and box windows. New buildings, on the other hand, are houses that have been recently completed and are about to be occupied for the first time.

Differences between new and old construction

Buying a residential property depends on many aspects. When buying a house, the decision should not be based solely on purely economic facts. The property should be as close as possible to what you want. After all, you will be living there at least for a decade – if not even your whole life. Plus: you deserve to be happy! Both types have their advantages, as the following criteria show.

The look of the property

In the case of old buildings, the focus is on historical charm. This cannot be imitated one-to-one in new buildings. In addition to the elegance of the ornate facades, it is above all the interiors that appeal to fans of high-quality existing buildings. Ceilings adorned with stucco and sanded wooden floors make the heart beat just as fast as awe-inspiring double doors.

With new buildings, you can focus entirely on your own individual wishes during the planning phase. When it comes to the floor plan and furnishings, anything that suits your own financial resources is possible. Should the floor be parquet, vinyl or cork? Do you like square or round fixtures better? Do you need a hobby room or rather an additional guest room? All these questions can be addressed in detail in advance.

Comfort factor

Due to the aforementioned freedom in the design of the property, you can look forward to a comfortable home in a new construction. But even without your intervention during the planning phase, houses and apartments built in the near past hold many amenities in store. Underfloor heating and smart-home technology meet the standards for exceptional comfort, as does a direct elevator connection.

In the case of an older building, such amenities are usually associated with renovation. In some neighborhoods, this is even prevented by the preservation of historical monuments or measures to ensure the preservation of the milieu. At the very least, smart home systems can be implemented in old buildings, bringing with them a respectable increase in comfort.

The location of the property

The most sought-after locations in Germany are the city centers. This is where the majority of well-preserved buildings are located. You will very rarely find plots available in or near the city centre.

New buildings, on the other hand, are not only built on the outskirts. Many gaps that were left during the Second World War have been filled with modern buildings. In addition, more and more run-down houses are being torn down and the resulting plots are being filled with new residential buildings. While the immediate post-war buildings were still being pulled up at a fast pace and without any significant demands on architectural style, new buildings of more recent date fit seamlessly into the surroundings.

The purchase price

Even if the purchase price is not the only decisive argument when buying a home or condominium, it is the most important one. On average, an old building is up to 40% cheaper than a new building. The condition and location of the house play a major role here. If costly renovation work is due, the deal should be well calculated. The most costly things to renovate / modernize are the roof, the heating system (incl. plumbing), insulation and electrical wiring.

However, this does not mean that a new building is a bad choice, even if the initial investment is higher. A new building has lower maintenance costs and a higher resale value.

Those who want to renovate their old building to make it energy efficient can count on subsidies from the German Government. The executing institution is the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW).

Advantages & Disadvantages of a new building

If you are looking to buy a new building, you need to be checking pros & cons of newly constructed properties:

Advantages of a new building

  • A new building is a good choice if you already have a precise idea of what the residential property should look like.
  • The latest technologies require energy-efficient construction. Heating costs and energy costs decrease noticeably.
  • The Government promotes energy-saving construction (through the KfW bank)
  • New buildings meet modern standards for comfort, security and theft protection.
  • New buildings can be adapted to meet the requirements of age-appropriate living e.g. elevators and ramps, wider doors, etc.

Disadvantages of a new building

  • New construction is more expensive, of course.
  • Many new buildings are cold and impersonal. They lack characteristic features and charm.
  • Construction defects appear only after several years, which might make it difficult to get the corrected by the initial builder.

Advantages & disadvantages of an old building

If you’re looking to buy a house or apartment with its own history, weigh the pros and cons carefully.

Advantages of an old building

  • Planning and construction phases are long gone; moving in immediately is possible most of the time
  • The property, its surroundings and the neighbors can be checked upfront
  • The plots of land are usually larger, the development more generously laid out. Most times, you’ll have a larger garden attached (if it’s a house)
  • There are no development costs for gas, water, electricity and traffic areas, as this has already been dealt with during the planning and building phase.
  • The KfW bank promotes the renovation of old buildings with the aim of energy efficiency.


Disadvantages of an old building

  • Costly renovation work is often required. This mainly affects the piping and the heating system, including the boiler as well as electrical wiring, if necessary.
  • Deviating technical standards and norms can lead to costly renovation and modernization measures.
  • Often, the protection of historical monuments stands in the way if you want to convert or renovate an old building (Denkmalschutz).

In summary: new construction or old building is a matter of taste & money

New buildings have an advantage over old buildings because they offer the prospect of significant energy savings. However, they cost considerably more to purchase than existing buildings. In addition, it is difficult to predict the long-term performance of the properties, as they are built on small plots or in newly developed locations. Therefore, follow current market trends and ask experts before buying a new or old building! Both forms of real estate purchase have their respective advantages and disadvantages. In addition to the question of cost, it also depends on your taste and what you want. If you already have your future home in mind, you should opt for a new building. In the first few years, there will be no maintenance costs and the energy bill will be lower. However, the cost savings are offset by a higher initial investment. Old buildings and apartments, on the other hand, bring their history with them and are often significantly cheaper to purchase. The property can be inspected in advance, and you can get an overview of its condition and its equipment on site. The building should be examined by a specialist so that future expenses for renovation can be realistically estimated.

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