The survey also found that younger buyers, ages 18-34, prefer new construction far more than older buyers, but younger buyers are less likely to be able to afford new construction. The millennial generation, in fact, has been largely left out of the housing recovery, as investors quickly bought up distressed homes on the low end of the market, pushing overall prices higher and faster than expected. Prices usually lag sales in the housing market, but this recovery has turned history on its head. Sales are lagging prices, due to a lack of inventory of homes for sale.
"Fans of existing homes have their reasons, too," Kolko found. "Among all adults—not just the 21 percent who prefer an existing home—the most compelling reason to buy an existing home is to pay less. However, among respondents who strongly prefer an existing home, it's not primarily about saving money."
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Buyers of existing homes are looking for history and character. They want original wood floors and historic architecture and well-established neighborhoods, closer to urban centers. New construction tends to be further out in the suburbs, where land is more readily available. New construction in established neighborhoods, often referred to as "infill," usually commands a far steeper price premium.
For those looking for good supplies of newly built homes, their best bet, according to permit data surveyed by Trulia, is in the Carolinas and Texas. The worst regions are the New York/New Jersey metropolitan areas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, and New Haven, Connecticut.