How Buying a New Home Could Save You Money
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How Buying a New Home Could Save You Money

Mon, Nov 20, 2023 10:05amGrey Clock 3 min

For many, buying a new construction home is the dream. Everything is fresh and on-trend, there’s no haggling with emotional sellers, and you may even get a say in the home’s layout, features and amenities. In today’s market, buying new—rather than an existing property—might be an economical choice, too. As the median payment on a new mortgage creeps toward $2,200, most buyers are desperate to save cash wherever they can. And while improving your credit scores or shopping around can often help you snag a lower mortgage payment, builder-offered incentives—which have been on the rise in recent months—can also lead to notable savings.  “We’re seeing builders sweetening the pot for buyers,” says Nick Bailey , president of Re/Max LLC, a real-estate brokerage based in Denver. Those extras—plus some built-in insurance advantages—could theoretically save a buyer with a $500,000 budget $40,000 or more in just the first year of homeownership (though actual savings, if any, will vary quite a bit from buyer to buyer).  Here’s how buying new could help make your home purchase more affordable.

1. Builders are slashing prices

Though new homes typically cost slightly more than existing ones—the median sale price was $418,800 vs. $394,300 in September—builders have increasingly been cutting price tags. In fact, nearly a third of home builders reported reducing their prices in October, according to a survey from the National Association of Home Builders. It’s the highest share in nearly a year and roughly triple the share of price cuts seen July 2022. The size of the reductions are worth mentioning, too. Almost 40% of builders say they cut prices by 6% or more in October. So, a home on the market for $500,000 a month ago could be listed at just $470,000 today.

2. They’re offering lower mortgage rates

If slashed prices aren’t enough to get a mortgage payment in your budget, builders have another offer: A lower mortgage rate.  In response to today’s decades-high interest rates , some builders are now offering “buydowns,” chipping in to get home buyers reduced mortgage rates—at least for a time. (Essentially, the builder prepays the lender the interest for the years the mortgage rate is reduced). NAHB’s data shows that 29% of builders offered mortgage rate buydowns in October. “Many builders are using sales incentives—including mortgage rate buydowns—as a method of addressing housing affordability headwinds,” says Robert Dietz, chief economist at NAHB. Buydowns can be permanent, lasting for the entire term of the loan, but more often—at least with builder buydowns—they’re temporary, lasting for the first one to three years of the mortgage. Home builder Lennar, for example, offers what’s called a 2-1 buy-down. This allows home buyers to reduce their mortgage rate by 2 percentage points in the first year—say, down from 7.5% to 5.5%, for instance—and then by one point the following year. By the third year, the loan would revert to that original 7.5% rate (or you could refinance if rates had become more favorable).  In the above scenario, the buy-down would save you over $10,000 in interest during just the first year of a 30-year loan.  Another perk: Builders are also offering to pitch in on closing costs. These typically clock in around 2% to 6% of your total loan amount, or up to $30,000 on a $500,000 loan. According to the NAHB survey, 35% of builders offered to pay closing costs last month.

3. New home insurance is more affordable, too

The last way a new home could save you on your mortgage payment has little to do with builders—but instead, how much it costs to insure a property. And according to insurance pros, home insurance premiums —which are typically paid as part of your monthly mortgage payment—are often much more affordable on newer homes than older ones.  “Older homes may have issues like roof leaks,” says Angel Conlin, chief insurance officer at Kin Insurance in Chicago. “New homes, with fresh materials and construction, pose less risk to insurers.” (Just keep in mind: A new home—and new materials—doesn’t necessarily mean the place is perfect. So if you do opt for new construction, always get a home inspection.)  According to data from Policygenius, a new home costs 13% less to insure annually than a 10-year-old one and 32% less than a 30-year-old home. As of 2022, the average premium on a new home was just $1,200 per year. A 30-year-old home’s premium was $1,776.  “If you’re looking at two properties that have a similar size, construction type, and location with the difference being that one was built 30 years after the other,” says Pat Howard, a home insurance expert at Policygenius, “you can likely bank on the newer home having cheaper home insurance premiums.”


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Wild cities and concrete corridors: How AI is reimagining the landscape

A new AI-driven account by leading landscape architect Jon Hazelwood pushes the boundaries on the role of ‘complex nature’ in the future of our cities

By Robyn Willis
Wed, Dec 6, 2023 2 min

Drifts of ground cover plants and wildflowers along the steps of the Sydney Opera House, traffic obscured by meadow-like planting and kangaroos pausing on city streets.

This is the way our cities could be, as imagined by landscape architect Jon Hazelwood, principal at multi-disciplinary architectural firm Hassell. He has been exploring the possibilities of rewilding urban spaces using AI for his Instagram account, Naturopolis_ai with visually arresting outcomes.

“It took me a few weeks to get interesting results,” he said. “I really like the ephemeral nature of the images — you will never see it again and none of those plants are real. 

“The AI engine makes an approximation of a grevillea.”

Hazelwood chose some of the most iconic locations in Australia, including the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, as well as international cities such as Paris and London, to demonstrate the impact of untamed green spaces on streetscapes, plazas and public space.

He said he hopes to provoke a conversation about the artificial separation between our cities and the broader environment, exploring ways to break down the barriers and promote biodiversity.

“A lot of the planning (for public spaces) is very limited,” Hazelwood said. “There are 110,000 species of plants in Australia and we probably use about 12 in our (public) planting schemes. 

“Often it’s for practical reasons because they’re tough and drought tolerant — but it’s not the whole story.”

Hazelwood pointed to the work of UK landscape architect Prof Nigel Dunnett, who has championed wild garden design in urban spaces. He has drawn interest in recent years for his work transforming the brutalist apartment block at the Barbican in London into a meadow-like environment with diverse plantings of grasses and perennials.

Hazelwood said it is this kind of ‘complex nature’ that is required for cities to thrive into the future, but it can be hard to convince planners and developers of the benefits.

“We have been doing a lot of work on how we get complex nature because complexity of species drives biodiversity,” he said. 

“But when we try to propose the space the questions are: how are we going to maintain it? Where is the lawn?

“A lot of our work is demonstrating you can get those things and still provide a complex environment.” 

At the moment, Hassell together with the University of Melbourne is trialling options at the Hills Showground Metro Station in Sydney, where the remaining ground level planting has been replaced with more than 100 different species of plants and flowers to encourage diversity without the need for regular maintenance. But more needs to be done, Hazelwood said.

“It needs bottom-up change,” he said. ““There is work being done at government level around nature positive cities, but equally there needs to be changes in the range of plants that nurseries grow, and in the way our city landscapes are maintained and managed.”

And there’s no AI option for that. 


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