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I’m a widow, and wish to transfer from Chicago to a hotter local weather. However a lot of the houses I’ve discovered want loads of work. Are there any cons to purchasing a brand new home?


Expensive MarketWatch,

I’m a current widow, with none life insurance coverage, and I’ve restricted earnings. I’ve a house with an impressive mortgage of $137,000 in Chicago. My month-to-month funds are $1,666. 

I just lately found that I could qualify for a Veterans Affairs (VA) mortgage, so I’m pondering of downsizing to a 3-bedroom ranch, and shifting someplace hotter, perhaps in South Carolina. I’m additionally hoping to promote my home, and checklist it at $265,000.

However a lot of the houses within the worth vary that I’m in search of want work. So my query is: Ought to I purchase a brand new house, or ought to I am going for the prevailing house that wants work? 

I’m a senior, and I wish to go away my youngsters one thing. However I’m daunted by the method forward of me. 


Feeling Anxious and Overwhelmed

The Huge Transfer’ is a MarketWatch column trying on the ins and outs of actual property, from navigating the seek for a brand new house to making use of for a mortgage.

Do you’ve gotten a query about shopping for or promoting a house? Do you wish to know the place your subsequent transfer must be? E mail Aarthi Swaminathan at

Expensive Anxious and Overwhelmed,

I’m so sorry to your loss. I hope you might be getting the assist you want throughout this powerful time.

Concerning your query, do the maths and see which makes extra monetary sense. With the upkeep and restore work concerned, does the whole price add as much as be lower than the price of a brand new building, and ongoing upkeep? 

First off, a notice: For those who checklist your own home at $265,000, it might not fetch that worth given how excessive mortgage charges are proper now, and the rising variety of unwilling patrons on this market. So mood your expectations.

So let’s say you may comfortably afford an present house at $250,000, factoring in for future restore/rework bills.

Bear in mind, mortgage charges are fairly excessive — in order that shaves extra off your funds. However you are also planning on taking out a VA mortgage, which is a profit: VA loans have a decrease mortgage fee, plus there is no such thing as a down-payment requirement, and your mortgages are “assumable” — a possible huge perk for whoever buys your own home.

With an assumable mortgage, the client will get possession of the home and takes over the vendor’s house mortgage, too. As NerdWallet columnist Holden Lewis just lately identified on MarketWatch: “Image your self making an attempt to purchase a home when mortgage charges are within the double digits. You discover a house vendor who has an assumable mortgage with an rate of interest within the single digits. That house could also be inexpensive for those who can take over the mortgage; it may not be inexpensive at a double-digit rate of interest.”

So that you say you wish to transfer to “someplace hotter” inside that worth vary. You additionally need a 3-bedroom ranch. What are you able to afford? 

Wanting on the accessible stock of existing-homes available on the market, you’ve gotten some choices.

In response to Zillow, for a 3-bedroom home below $250,000 in S.C., you’ve gotten lower than 1,000 choices to select from.

Take into account: The median quantity householders spend on renovation tasks was $18,000 in 2021, in accordance with a current research by home-remodeling web site Houzz. You could want much less, or extra, relying on the state of the home. Embrace that in your funds. 

Usually, sure, new builds are much less work when it comes to upkeep and restore. However they’re additionally costlier general.

“Buydowns and different incentives that builders might provide could make shopping for a brand new building house inexpensive. However discovering that house is a tall job.”

— Zillow’s Nicole Bachuad

“Buydowns and different incentives that builders might provide could make shopping for a brand new building house inexpensive. However discovering that house is a tall job,” Nicole Bachuad, senior economist at Zillow
informed MarketWatch. (Buydowns usually happen when a purchaser goals to get a decrease rate of interest for the primary few years of a mortgage.)

“New building houses are usually listed at a premium, focusing on the increased finish of the market. Consumers who’re in search of entry-level houses may have a tough time discovering a deal that works inside their funds with new building,” Bachuad added.

Create a funds, and issue within the worth of the house you wish to purchase, your potential mortgage fee, taxes and charges and such, and get estimates or quotes on what it could price to repair up a house in your worth vary. Afterwards, tour some new builds and see what presents they’ve that convey the value of a brand new house into your worth vary. See which is cheaper.

Builders might typically work with you to see what preparations may work. Once I visited a brand new building web site in San Jose, Calif., just a few weeks in the past, I discovered that one of many employees recommended the (future) proprietor get a roommate for a short time to make the house extra inexpensive. 

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