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Tight budget? Buy existing home


Dear Mr. Azrael:

We're first-time homebuyers and we want to know what would be better financially.

Our cap is $110,000, and we wanted to know if building on property that we purchased would be in our best interest or would it be in our best interest to invest in a resale.

Michelle & Whitney Hendricks Baltimore

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hendricks: Since your budget is limited to $110,000, purchasing an existing home almost certainly will be more advantageous than buying a lot and building a new home.

Costs for a single-family detached home in the Baltimore metropolitan area will be at least $100 per square foot -- including the lot.

For instance, a modest new home of 1,500 square feet may cost $150,000. For your $110,000, you will probably have to settle for a townhouse if you insist on it being new.

Existing homes, on the other hand, offer a wider range of choices.

There are many neighborhoods in Baltimore and surrounding counties where you can purchase single-family detached homes for $110,000 or less. In Baltimore, for instance, the average resale price of a home is $87,000. In Baltimore County, resale homes average $143,000.

While new homes have the obvious advantage of everything being fresh and guaranteed, older homes often include costly items that would be "extras" in a new home.

These amenities may include landscaping, built-ins, washers and dryers, curtains, lighting fixtures and club basements.

In the end, the decision of whether to buy an older home or build a new one depends on your budget and your personal preferences.

A real estate professional will be glad to show older homes as well as building lots. Compare the alternatives carefully and then make the choice that is right for you.


The Sun invites you to send Real estate questions to Mailbag. Questions will be answered by Jonathan A. Azrael of Azrael, Gann and Franz of Towson.

Questions -- including name, address and daytime telephone number -- may be sent in the following ways:

Mailing address: Real Estate Mailbag, Fifth Floor, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278-0001. Fax: 410-783-2517. E-mail:

Call our Sundial audio-response number, 410-783-1800. Enter code 6170 after the greeting.

Pub Date: 2/21/99

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