real estate

On the fence about buying vs. building home

Don TaylorDear Dr. Don,
Is it cheaper to build or buy a home? What is the best reference material for a first-time purchaser like me? I am a financial analyst finishing my master's degree soon. I hope to purchase or build a home on 10 to 15 acres this year. I want to do everything right and don't want to have any regrets. Do you have any advice for me?

Thank you,
-- Chris Complexities

Man opening up curtains to look out window | GlobalStock/E+/Getty Images

Dear Chris,
I appreciate that you are methodical with your approach, but don't fall victim to "analysis paralysis." Life doesn't always go exactly as planned, but we can still work toward the best possible outcome. I'm here to help!

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It's likely to be cheaper to buy a home than it is to build a home. Building a home should produce the exact floor plan and design features you want with fewer compromises. By comparison, there are costs associated with redecorating and renovating when buying a previously owned home.

As for a reference source, that's easy. That's why we're here at Bankrate. In terms of a personal or professional contact, look for a recommended, knowledgeable real estate professional in your area.

Also, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has an informative website, including a section on owning a home.

You don't mention why you're expecting to have acres of land for your property. Don't underestimate property taxes and land management costs.

I'll close with 2 rules of thumb. Don't own the most expensive home in your neighborhood. Also, don't make any offer on a home before a satisfactory home inspection. Good luck finding or building your first home.

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