Should You Buy or Build a House? Weighing the Pros & Cons

house full of questions

Budget, time, flexibility - there’s a lot that goes into this decision.

The world is full of advice for young professionals, especially when it comes to owning your own piece of the American dream. If you’re looking to buy a home in the near future, you may be wondering whether it’s better to build or buy at this stage of your life. The answer comes down to three things:

  • Your budget
  • Your patience
  • Your flexibility regarding your “dream”

All of the pros and cons covered below boil down to your capacity in these areas. First, let’s look at costs.

Cost of building a house vs buying

  • The average price for a home in the U.S. is $356,026 (Zillow)
  • The average cost to build a new house in the U.S. is $280,271 (HomeAdvisor)

That’s a national average, and you may find different numbers depending on your region. But the trend is the same: It costs more to build than to buy.

But budget isn’t the only factor in this decision. Let’s dive into both scenarios to see which option may work best for you.

Pros & cons of building a house

The thought of building your own home is exciting — so many custom features and ways to put your mark on your residence. Before you get lost in the daydream of building your own house, here are some of the realities to consider:


  • You can customize and personalize almost every detail of your new home — and you only have to pay for the custom features you want.
  • You will have a home that is built to meet current building codes, as well as incorporate energy-efficient features and up-to-date technology.
  • Your yard is an empty canvas to fill with the landscaping of your choice.


  • You may end up spending a lot more than you anticipated. Personalized touches add up fast.
  • You can’t move in right away. Be prepared to stay in your current residence when you build. The average construction time for a new home is seven months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • You will likely have a lot more yard work to do (or costs for a landscaping service). Newly built homes rarely have mature landscaping. Get ready to put in some extra time or extra budget (or both).
  • You may have out-of-pocket expenses sneak up on you. Before you start building, talk to your builder about base price, what buyers typically spend on upgrades and any additional potential costs at closing.
  • You will have less room to negotiate when it comes to closing costs or purchase price.

Building a new home, especially when you don’t want to bend when it comes to your vision, may cost more than you originally anticipated. You will also need patience when it comes to waiting for your new home to be move-in ready and perfectly landscaped. While the average build time is seven months, unforeseen circumstances — weather, fire, human error — can prolong construction.

Pros & cons of buying a house

In many respects, buying a house is a lot less stressful than building one. No scouting out plots, no picking out countertops. Already taken care of. But does that take all the fun out of a new home? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:


  • You can work with a real estate agent who can help you negotiate a terrific deal.
  • You typically don’t have to wait long to move in; simply set up house right after you close.
  • You’ll most likely have a yard with mature landscaping, which means you just need to maintain things.
  • You can make upgrades at your own pace.


  • You may have to deal with maintenance issues with an older home. However, your home inspection should uncover any potential issues and repairs before you close. If any issues or repairs are uncovered, you can purchase a home warranty that may cover some of those.
  • You could spend more for utilities when you live in an older home.
  • You might regret your decision if you settled for a house that wasn’t at least somewhat close to meeting all your preferences.

Buying your next home, compared to building, is undoubtedly the less stressful option when looking for your future residence. Your real estate agent can help you get a good deal, and a professional home inspector can help you understand what kind of shape the home is in.

Build or buy?

Every buyer has different preferences, financial options and tolerances. Before you make up your mind, talk to others who have built and bought. They have ideas and lessons they can share with you. Finally, make sure to work with an experienced real estate agent who can help you find a home that meets your needs.

If you’re ready to speak with a Cadence Bank mortgage expert, contact us today.


This article is provided as a free service to you and is for general informational purposes only. Cadence Bank makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the content in the article. The article is not intended to provide legal, accounting or tax advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes.

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