Buying vs. Building a House in Morgantown, WV
Whether you already live in Morgantown or are planning to relocate, this vibrant college town in North Central West Virginia offers something for everyone. Root for the Mountaineers at one their 17 NCAA Division 1 sports, take in live music or a play, go to an art exhibit, or get outside to enjoy West Virginia’s beautiful outdoors. When it comes to where to live, you can enjoy a suburban or natural setting near downtown Morgantown or nearby Cheat Lake. Morgantown also offers a variety of new developments for people who want to buy or build a new construction home. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know to decide which is the best option for you–to buy or build a home in Morgantown?
Why Buy or Build in Morgantown?
Named one of Money Magazine’s “Best Places To Live,” Morgantown is home to West Virginia University, making it a hub for healthcare, culture, and commercial activity. Morgantown is also surrounded by natural beauty, including the Cheat Lake area. And both the unemployment rate and the cost of living in Morgantown are lower than the national average.
There are many different types of homes for sale in Morgantown. You can buy an existing home that was already lived in or take your pick of options for new construction in Morgantown. New homes are popping up all over, especially in the very desirable Cheat Lake Area.
Buying A Home In Morgantown WV
Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or looking for your next home, here’s everything you need to know about buying a home in Morgantown.
Buying a Home from a Previous Owner
Existing-home sales make up more than 90% of total home sales in the U.S.
The potential benefits of buying an existing home include:
- The house is already built and ready for you to move in.
- There is already some landscaping, so you don’t have to start from scratch.
- You can take your time with home improvements and renovations as you want or need to.
- Room to negotiate on sales price and seller concessions.
- The financing process is more straightforward–you just need a conventional mortgage loan.
- May be more cost-effective to purchase an existing home than to buy or build a new home.
When you have a list of must-haves or even nice-to-haves for your home, it can be hard to find a house and yard that checks all or even most of the boxes. Then you may have to sacrifice some of the things you wanted to find a home in your price range or at all.
The other big disadvantage with buying an existing home is that you may have maintenance or other things to fix as soon as you move in. We always recommend getting a professional home inspection done before closing so you’re aware of any major issues.
Buying New Construction
If you want to purchase a new construction home, there are a variety of new developments in Morgantown and North Central WV to choose from. Here are some of the Morgantown communities:
The potential benefits of buying new construction include:
- More customization options
- Everything is new so there shouldn’t be much maintenance for a while
- Shorter time than if you build a house from the ground up by yourself
- You just need traditional mortgage financing
With new construction, you have to wait until the house is complete to move in, unless you’re buying a new model that is already finished. 100% customization is usually not available–you have to choose between a set of floor plans and materials.
Historically, there has been less opportunity to negotiate with new construction homes, but some builders are now cutting prices and offering incentives to entice buyers in a real estate market that has slowed with rising interest rates.
If you just want a house that is fully renovated and move-in ready, you could also look for homes that were rehabbed or “flipped” and new houses that are not part of a development. These options may not have as high a level of customization as a new development, but depending on when you catch the listing, you may be able to still put your personal touch on the property.
Cost of Buying A Home in Morgantown
In Morgantown , the median listing price is $300,000 and the median sold price is $245,000. That reflects the fact that Morgantown real estate is currently a buyer’s market, meaning you may be able to offer less than asking price or win seller concessions to cover some of the closing costs.
Cheat Lake’s median home price is $325,000, reflecting the desirability of this incorporated village near Morgantown.
If you want to live near Morgantown at a cheaper price point, consider Fairmont, where the median listing price is only $181,000. You can still choose between new construction and existing homes in Fairmont, which is a friendly small city with lots of outdoor recreation spots around it.
Costs associated with buying a new home vs. an existing home
Beyond the sales price of a new or existing home, you should consider:
- Taxes may be higher for a brand-new home in a new development or an existing neighborhood compared to existing or flipped homes.
- New developments will likely have an HOA fee, but that helps cover maintenance and recreation costs–you won’t have to mow your own lawn or do snow removal, for example.
- Overall, buying an existing home, whether pre-owned or new construction, is cheaper than building a home from the ground up.
How To Finance An Existing Home or Newly Constructed Home
Financing the purchase of an existing or new construction home means applying for a fixed or variable-rate mortgage loan. At First Exchange Bank, our in-house lending means lower closing costs and we can finance up to 89.99%. You just have to choose your interest rate:
- Fixed interest rate means you will have the same rate for the life of your loan. If rates fall and you want to take advantage of that, you can refinance into a new fixed-rate mortgage with a lower rate.
- Variable rate means your interest rate can adjust up or down at certain intervals depending on the benchmark rate. Usually, there is an introductory period with a lower-than-average fixed interest rate. Adjustable-rate mortgages can also be refinanced into a new fixed-rate mortgage.
If you own an existing home without a mortgage and you’re buying into a new development, a secured loan or personal line of credit may be other options to help you finance your new home purchase until you’re ready to move and sell your current home. This works if the sale of your existing home will cover a good portion of the mortgage and you just need cash for a down payment and installment payments that may be required if not obtaining a home loan.
Building A Home in Morgantown
If you prefer to build a new, customized home instead of buying an existing house, here’s everything you need to know about building a home in WV.
- You get exactly what you want
- Less up-front maintenance
- Multiple builders to choose from in the Morgantown area
- New construction materials means you don’t have to worry about lead paint or other harmful substances that may have been used to build houses 50+ years ago.
- You can make your home more energy efficient
- Takes longer to move in because you have to wait for the house to be built.
- Can run into unexpected delays from weather, material shortages, labor shortages, or other construction and land issues.
- Your choice of location is limited by where land is available to build. You may not get your preferred neighborhood unless you can afford to wait.
- You need to find the right builder and contractors to do the work as opposed to a new construction development that already has a team.
- Need to pay the builders at each phase of the projects as expenses are incurred.
- Depending on whether you buy raw or improved land, some preparation may be required before building can start. For example, trees or rocks may need to be cleared or a utilities hookup may be needed.
- You’re starting from scratch with landscaping.
- Lots of decisions to make regarding floor plan, materials, and other customization.
Overall, it will be more expensive to build a home in WV than to buy an existing house. When you build from scratch, you also lose the opportunity to negotiate pricing. Taxes may be higher as well.
Cost of Building A House in WV
Expect to spend about $92-$137 per square foot to build a custom home in West Virginia. For a 2,000 square foot home, that could end up costing between $200,000-$300,000.
If you are trying to stay within a certain price range, you can control some costs with the types of materials you choose, as well as the floor plan and architectural features you select (simpler = less expensive).
How To Pay For The House You Are Building
Construction loans provide short-term financing for the costs of building a new house. First Exchange Bank offers single-close construction loans, which can help you save money on closing costs and avoid the hassle of applying for two different loans. With a single-close construction loan, your builder can draw funds during the building process. You can make interest-only payments during the construction phase to keep it affordable, especially if you have to maintain another home at the same time. Once you can move into your new home, the balance of your construction loan automatically converts to a conventional mortgage.
Buying vs. Building: what’s better for you?
When it comes to deciding whether your next home will be an existing one, a new construction house, or a completely custom home built just for you, it comes down to personal preference and what you can afford. Not sure how much of a mortgage or construction loan you can get approved for? Contact a local mortgage lender at First Exchange Bank or visit your nearest branch location in Fairmont, Fairview, Morgantown, Hundred, Mannington, or White Hall.
For more information on the homebuying process, check out our blog article on “Homebuying Tips For Single Women.”