Resale or new? Here’s a Look at Both Sides: Knowledge is power for shoppers in Las Vegas, Southern Nevada

By John Kelly

Something old, something new.

Are you wedded to the idea of a charming resale house in an established neighborhood or the endorphin rush that comes with the latest, greatest new home on the new block?

In any case, you have to buy something, but your mind is toggling between the two choices like a home light switch (new or existing). So perhaps a little more illumination is all you need to make that light bulb in your head stay on for good.

Most new homes are built in developments with a unified style. These developments can be as small as a cul-de-sac or as massive as a former field filled with a sea of homes. Built to the latest codes and standards, they tend to be contemporary-styled, energy-efficient and often are more expensive than resale homes of a similar size. Either way, the decision about whether to forgo an established community is worth taking the time to consider. Specific details vary, of course, but consider the pros and cons.

With new developments springing up seemingly overnight, it's obvious that new construction is popular. And yet, most people buy a resale home, i.e., a home that someone else has lived in but is now on the market again. Call them used if you must — existing home sounds better — but they're the kind of houses that many people would like to call home.

Of course, there are pros and cons with existing homes, too. One of the main drawbacks is, usually, outdated energy efficiency, which is constantly improving. Generally speaking, resale homes tend to be more available and less expensive than new homes, but they can also be full of surprises.

For Joe Whatley, owner of Liberty Homes in Las Vegas, the choice is a no-brainer.

"Are you a new car buyer or a used car buyer?" Whatley posited. "You can save some money on a used home (window treatments, landscaping, etc.), but you do have a used home. It has wear and tear on all the mechanical equipment and most likely does not have the exact colors you would have chosen if you selected them when you bought it new."

"Purchasing a new home is just that, it's new! It has your colors, your finishes and your selections that make it your home, not what's left of somebody else's home. You also get the most important parts of a new home: fresh appliances, new heating and air-conditioning systems, and depending on your builder, the latest in building technology, energy efficiency, building design, quality cabinets and kitchen finishes and the new warranty that comes with a new home."

"You also get to pick your favorite plan and customize it to fit your needs. Add the personalization of your own selections, and you have a lasting home to raise your family, celebrate holidays and spoil your grandchildren in."

Why you should buy something new:
• Contemporary style
• Some flexibility on design during construction phase
• Cheaper to maintain (new appliances = fewer repairs)
• Cheaper to operate (energy-efficient construction)
• Extended warranties
• Cohesive neighborhood (consistent layout, common areas)
• Frequently have a homeowners association (helps protect resale value)
• It's brand-new

Of course, a positive ("No one has lived in it before us, so we won't inherit any problems.") can be a negative ("No one has lived in it before us, so we have no way of knowing about any problems."). Fortunately, there are ways to make sure the house you're buying is really the house you want.

Check the builder's track record. What else has the company built? Were previous projects completed on time, on budget and without bad blood between the builder and buyers?

"My thoughts on new vs. used home is one of choice and peace of mind," said Daniel Welsh, Vice President at American West Development." American West has built over 17,000 homes for families in the Las Vegas Valley since 1984. “I, myself, am currently on my fourth American West home, believing whole-heartedly in what we offer. Being in the real estate industry, I have never purchased a used home and I have many reasons."

Some of Welsh's main reasons are newer, less-crowded schools; choice and selection; latest technology; and builder warranties.


To hear most house hunters tell it, resale homes lead a charmed life. At least, it's one of the most oft-quoted attributes out of the mouths of prospective buyers. For a resale buyer, the house is not old (there are exceptions, of course), it's charming.

David J. Tina, 2016 president-elect of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors, said he and his wife also did the home-choice shuffle before choosing their dream, which is a resale. He said they went back and forth on the pros and cons of each, but for them, a quality existing home made the most sense, and cents.

"The price is cheaper by about 5 to 10 percent on an existing home," Tina said. "When people buy a new home, they think they're buying a custom house. But you're going to spend at least another 10 percent of the base (price) for options and upgrades. And you pay a premium."

Why you should buy something old (charming)
• Price per square foot is less expensive
• Established neighborhoods and community feel
• Finished product already exists
• Pool, mature landscaping, upgrades like shutters, wood floors, etc., already included
• No construction noise or inconveniences related to new homes
• No lot premiums
• More choices, more styles to choose from
• Price may be more negotiable

Have the home inspected. You do not want to find out the foundation is cracked or the roof needs to be replaced after you move in. Consider a counter-offer. If the inspection reveals fixable flaws, propose the seller do the repairs or lower the price. Expect the unexpected. Pipes leak, electrical work becomes outdated and furnaces fail — get used to it. The bottom line on resale homes is this: Don't buy someone else's problems unless you can tackle the solutions.

"Ultimately, choosing a home still comes down to location," Tina said. "There are many value adds associated with both new and resale homes. The key is to find a home in a location that best suits the homebuyer's needs at the best-negotiated price possible."