New construction or existing home: 3 not-so-obvious questions

June 11, 2019


When you move to the First Coast, you have some decisions to make. Will you move to the city, suburbs or beach? Will you choose Jacksonville, St. Augustine or another nearby town? And of course, will you look for an existing home or new construction?


Each of these decisions comes down to personal preference, plain and simple. It’s often said newly constructed homes cost more now but may be less costly than older homes in the long term. Beyond the numbers, there are other fairly obvious differences—aesthetics, access to amenities and good schools, appliance warranties, neighborhood, and so on.


Here are three important but not-so-obvious questions that may help you decide:


Do you want more house or more yard?

While there are certainly exceptions, many existing homes tend to be on larger lots and boast less square footage inside. The average home built in 1990 barely broke 2,000 sq. ft. while homes built today average nearly 2,700 sq. ft.


On the flip side, yard sizes have gotten smaller. While homes have swelled 35%, average lot sizes in the U.S. have shrunk by about 14% since the early 90’s.


New Construction – 35A San Cristobal Court


Existing Home – 4000 SR 16


If you want (or need) more space inside, new construction might be right for you. However, if you’re more concerned with privacy and breathing space outside, an existing home is more likely to offer you that feature.

So, which is your priority—more space inside or more space outside?


How much time do you want to spend in the car?

Your commute to work may well impact your choice of existing vs. new construction. Being the largest city in the continental U.S., Jacksonville commuters spent a lot of time in traffic. Further, Duval County alone has more than $1.4 billion in new construction projects according to Property Appraiser Jerry Holland. And much of this new construction is a little further out.


If you choose a new home down in Nocatee or up in Yulee and work within Jacksonville’s core, you better invest in Audible because you’re going to be on the road a lot. This can also impact your drive to restaurants, shopping, entertainment and other activities in town.


Houses near the urban core tend to be older, making for a shorter commute to work and local amenities. This can easily impact your decision between a new and existing home.


Are you willing to invest in home improvement projects?

While new construction does have its drawbacks (“cookie cutter” layouts, stark landscaping), one distinction is clear—a turn-key home is hard to beat!


Upon moving into an older home, you may have a bevy of issues to address. We’re talking drafty windows, lead or asbestos, foundation issues, roof problems, ancient wiring, leaking pipes—and this doesn’t even include optional design renovations. Regardless, there are those of us who prefer older homes for their charm and quality construction that has stood the test of time.


You must ask yourself, in the words of Chip and Joanna Gaines, “Are you ready to see your Fixer Upper?” If the answer is yes and you love a challenge, grab a hammer and have some fun!


Whether you are looking for a new construction home, existing home, or you still aren’t sure, I would love to help you. Call me today to learn more at 904.501.1830 or


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Davidson Realty