If you're thinking of ... Buying vs. building

You’ve had your eye on that vacant piece of land for years and have been waiting for the right moment to buy it and build your dream home. But are you ready? Do you know what you’re getting into? Or should you just buy an existing home? Be sure to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each to make an informed decision.

For obvious reasons, buying a home that’s already built is the easier of the two options. Buyers usually have a number of homes available to look at and can often find a home that meets their needs. Buyers can also remodel and update a house in phases and live in it right away.

“There’s a degree of instant gratification as the entire process happens much faster,” says Jon Hansen, a real estate agent with Lakeway Realty in Bellingham.

But if you’ve exhausted all your existing home possibilities, want to live in a specific location, or just want the satisfaction of creating exactly what you want, then building may be the right choice for you.

“You can be creative and put your heart’s desire into a custom home,” says Christine Park, a real estate agent with the Muljat Group.

According to both Hansen and Park, the key to building a home is finding the right contractor to work with. Choose someone you get along with and who understands your needs and wants. Talk to other people who have built homes with the contractor. And most important, take a good close look at the homes they have built.

“Designing your home, floor plan and finish work can be extremely rewarding and stressful all at once,” says Hansen. “Building takes time, but you can often get more of what you are looking for in a home.