Is it better to buy used or new?

Is it better to buy used or new?


As with any purchase in life, it can be difficult to choose between purchasing a new or pre-owned home as there are advantages to either option. Would you prefer to live in a modern home where everything is new and shiny? Or do you have a weak spot for a charming old home with character in a historical neighborhood?

This article will introduce 5 advantages for each and hopefully help you make a decision, should you be debating in which direction to proceed.


Merits of buying a new home

1. Little to no extra costs 

The main advantage of purchasing a new property is that there will be little or no extra costs associated with the purchase. There will be no need to change the wallpapers, renovate rooms, fix or update the appliances such as dishwasher, air conditioner, oven, etc. Leaky roof? Dated bathroom? Creaky floor? Those problems don’t (or aren’t supposed to) exist in a brand-new home. In fact, most developers offer warranties of up to 10-years against defects in appliances, such as dishwashers, air conditioners, oven, etc. The costs can swell quite a bit when bringing older or damaged properties to a modern standard, especially if they are on the large side.  

house safety and security for a new house

2.Added safety and security

Newly designed homes will be built in accordance with the latest disaster preventive measures and with top of the line security. Typical disaster prevention measures will be soundproof and fireproof walls as well as a frame that can handle even the strongest earthquakes. In terms of security, modern condominiums will have 2 to 4 levels of security, requiring a key to enter the building, call the elevator, select a floor, and enter a unit. As for landed houses, many developers will include or offer the option to have motion sensor activated lights for outside and alarms should the movement be detected inside or the windows being tampered with. 

3. Easier to mortgage

Most real estate developers have their own financing department or strong existing relationships with megabanks which they can leverage and introduce to buyers. It will not only be easier to secure financing, but the terms will also be better as there are fewer risks to the banks considering their existing relationship with the developer. The property having no depreciation or potentially damaging history (fire, suicide, etc.), and the developer being responsible for fixing defects are also huge contributing factors to more favourable terms.

4. Modern design

As the science of building disaster-resistant structures progresses, sacrificing aesthetics for practicality is not as necessary as it once was. The newer properties will have a design more in-line with modern tastes, resulting in them being on average more attractive looking.
For example, the ceilings will be higher, beams and pillars will be smaller, windows and balconies will be bigger. All of these improvements will result in brighter, more open homes with more usable space. 

5. More choices

When purchasing a new property, especially in a large condominium, many different floor plans in different price ranges will be available, resulting in a multitude of choices. Furthermore, many developers allow for floor plan customization at low and sometimes no costs when still early in the construction process. There will also be choices in terms of appliances and design. The developers will often include the free option of choosing a color scheme, height, and material for countertops, the type of flooring, etc. Appliances may also be selected, such as ovens, inductive heating or electric stoves, etc. 

Now we’ve considered new homes, let’s look at the merits of pre-owned homes. 

Merits of buying a pre-owned home

1. Often overall cheaper

Excluding prime areas where pre-owned properties tend to be more expensive than newly built ones due to the area being already developed and demand exceeding supply, pre-owned homes tend to be cheaper due to the depreciation of the structure and having older security and disaster prevention measure. Keeping in mind that older doesn’t necessarily mean dated in terms of aesthetics or inadequate, older properties can offer excellent value on the condition that the costs for required renovations can be kept under control. On top of that, pre-owned properties often offer the chance for price negotiations, which are not possible the vast majority of the time when purchasing a newly-built property. 

2. More options in central locations

Same as any developed country, most newly built properties in Japan tend to be located in the suburbs where there are still plenty of vacant lots to be found. Those wishing to live in more central locations such as downtown Tokyo, for example, will find many more options among pre-owned properties.

Possibility of purchasing a traditional Japanese-style house

3. Possibility of purchasing a traditional Japanese-style house

Newer properties in Japan are built to a more westernized standard and, baring custom orders, pre-owned properties are often the only options for those wishing to own a traditional Japanese-style home with sliding doors, tatami mats, etc.

Neighborhoods with character

4. Neighborhoods with character

For those who like the charm of historical Japanese neighborhoods, they will be hard-pressed to find many newly built homes for sale there. Some historical neighborhoods of Tokyo such as those that housed prestigious samurai clans haven’t seen any new condominium on the market for years. In terms of area and data, among Tokyo’s “vintage mansions” properties that are older but whose price has greatly appreciated due to excellent design and desirable location, 35% of them are located in Minato-ku, 22% in Shibuya-ku.  

5. Mature trees and vegetation

When choosing a pre-owned, especially when it’s a landed house, having a garden with mature trees and bushes can be a nice bonus. With newer properties, even if not grown from the seed stage and transplanted, trees and greenery take years to mature and take on the character. Having mature vegetation around the home is a major advantage for nature lovers.


There are many advantages to be had in either scenario. In the end, what is better will depend on what is important to you and your family as there is no clear cut better option.  
A trusted agent can help you weigh up the pros and cons, and has access to on- and off-market properties.  

Housing Japan has 20 years of experience to help foreign buyers find their dream home in Tokyo. Contact us to discuss your requirements and we can help you too.

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Author: Sami Senoussi

Japanese Realtor Sami Senoussi

Sami Senoussi is in the Sales Division at Housing Japan. He started his career at a real estate developer startup before joining the team at Housing Japan. He is one of the few westerners in the country involved in real estate to be completely fluent in Japanese and hold a broker license.