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PURCHASING IN A NEW DEVELOPMENT VERSUS AN EXISTING NEIGHBORHOOD: PART IV (PRIVATE HOMES AND CONDOMINIUMS)

01/02/2012

   In this article we will return to the pros and cons of purchasing a newly constructed home versus acquiring an older house, and discuss some advantages of investing in new construction. As in the previous article, many of these issues raised here, apply equally to Lakewood, Brooklyn and many other areas.

   With regards to both an investment property, and of course, purchasing a residence, most people prefer to live in a new, clean, fresh structure, and not move in to an old house. If all other factors are exactly equal (which almost never comes about), a newer house by mere virtue of its age, is generally more comfortable than an older one. However we will hone in on certain tangible differences which should be considered when comparing the two houses.

   Until the 1970’s, many homes were built with and included products and materials containing asbestos. Upon the dissemination of the widespread health concerns relating to its cancergenic properties, the use of asbestos in building declined through 1989, when the EPA promulgated legislation forbidding its use. The court system has since adjudicated many class action lawsuits against manufacturers and distributors of products containing asbestos, resulting in a plethora of publicity concerning its danger to human health. Many homes built before 1989, may still have remnants of asbestos insulation, which presents a danger to anybody exposed to this material unless it is properly removed. The same concern applies to lead paint. This was widely used until it was banned in 1977. Older houses may still have areas covered with this toxic paint. These health concerns are very real, and mast be considered when contemplating the purchase of an older house, whether as a residence or even for an investment. There may be severe civil and sometimes even criminal liabilities for landlords who lease residences containing these toxic materials to unassuming tenants with out the requisite disclosure. Any competent attorney will caution a client-buyer about the liabilities and dangers associated with these materials.

   With the onset of the cold winter, many residents of older houses wishfully crave for some of the comforts that are deemed standard in newer houses. Many older houses were built with small boilers, and/or were not equipped with sufficient central heating units to maintain heat in a typical Jewish residence. In most large families, people enter and exit the house throughout the day, and there may be young children who require a warm house throughout the night. This requires more heat than a house which is empty during the day and houses two or three adults during the evening hours.

   Additionally, in many Jewish houses, there is often a surge in use, such as on a short winter Erev Shabbos, when several people will be using the hot water for bathing, and the washing machine will be running simultaneously, followed by a lull throughout Shabbos when nobody uses hot water.

   Although it may not pay to replace a functioning system because of the few very cold days and nights, and the sporadic peak times when the boiler is unable to handle the demand, a newer house, custom built for a growing family, can often accommodate these requirements easily, without much additional expenditure. A brisk “walk-through” by a prospective buyer will not uncover this important issue, and only months after the closing, the new occupants may realize the significance of this deficiency.
 
   The same applies to lighting. Typical Jewish houses are lit up during the night. Most people have a light fixture in each room along with spotlights in larger rooms. Many older houses do not have any fixtures or spotlights in the bedrooms at all. Instead they are lit by a plug in standalone lamp in one corner of the room. In order to add fixtures and/or spotlights in an older house, it may require costly labor, including cutting through the sheetrock, spackling and repainting, for what would be deemed standard in a new home. A prospective purchaser who walks through the house on a sunny day, with the window shades open, may not notice the absence of adequate lighting, until a long winter night many months later.
 
   This applies to other utilities too. Many older structures were not built to accommodate a laundry room and may not have the gas line available for a gas powered clothes dryer, and perhaps not even the hot water line for the washing machine. Here again, this may require using a licensed plumber, and municipal inspections, followed by adding the finishing touches including spackling and painting.
 
 
 

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