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Deciding to Buy a Resale Home or a New Home

As Metro Vancouver housing starts hit a record level this spring, many buyers are pondering which is a better buy: a resale home (listings posted on faithwilsongroup.com or through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)) or a brand new home, often bought with a pre-sale contract.

Both resale and new homes offer advantages and disadvantages, so the final purchase decision requires some serious thought.
Let’s look first at resale homes, which are the choice of most buyers.

A resale home is often less expensive than a brand new home, but this is not always the case. In parts of East Vancouver the average price of a resale condo apartment, at $788 per square foot, is actually higher than a new pre-sale condo, at an average of $644 per square foot. In Richmond, the average per-square-foot price of a resale and pre-sale condo is nearly the same, while the average new pre-sale condo in Coquitlam and Port Moody costs just $40 more per-square-foot, on average, than a resale condo.
A resale home will not be subject to GST, which is charged only on new homes. So apples to apples, you will need to add the GST to the cost of a pre-sale home before calculating the actual cost per sq. ft. Another advantage is the resale home is complete and ready for near-immediate occupancy. Therefore, if your goal is to move now and have a roof over your head, resale is the only option. You will have to pay the Property Transfer Tax, but if you are a first-time buyer purchasing for less than $500,000, you are exempt from this tax. Note: Maintenance fees vary depending on the age of the property.

Now let’s consider a new pre-sale home. (It is called pre-sale because you often are purchasing a home from plans and models, before it is actually built.) The major advantage is taking possession of a brand new home in great condition that is protected under the mandatory BC New Home Warranty program. Also, you can request custom finishes, fixtures, paint or upgrades to make your new home quite unique. If the home is priced at $750,000 or less, you will be exempt from the Property Transfer Tax. However, the federal GST will be charged.
Buyers, however, should be aware that pre-sale contracts are written to favour the developer, so it is wise to have your trusted real estate professional go through the contract to make sure the home is the correct size, and offers the amenities and finishing, and the construction schedule, that matches your understanding.

Investors should note that in the pre-sale condo market in particular, the selling of pre-sale contracts is possible and potentially profitable because rising land and construction values may have escalated the price from when the condo was started two or even three years earlier. Such assignment sales are not subject to the Property Transfer Tax.

Resale or presale? Calls for an intelligent decision. Faith Wilson Group provides our industry-exclusive Home Buyer Peace of Mind Guarantee to allow buyers to act with confidence, whether buying a resale or a new home.

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