New Construction: To Build or Not to Build

Snoqualmie Ridge circa 2009 | Aerial Photo: Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0

Most existing homes in Snoqualmie Valley range anywhere from $530,000 for 1,400 sq/ft upward to 2.3M for 4,000+ sq/ft. The market is hot as hell in Seattle and its surrounding metropolitan areas and Snoqualmie Valley homes are no exception. For reference: We built our 1,960 sq/ft townhome in 2015 for roughly $430,000 and recently had it appraised for $675,000. Quick math says we gained $245,000 in equity in just under 5 years. That is absolutely insane if you ask me!

Our current townhome | 1,960 sq/ft = $344/ sq/ft

So cool, but not really cool at all. That steep increase in value also means that whatever home we migrate to is going to be equally as expensive if we want to stay in our community. Existing homes in the 2,400 – 3,200 sq/ft range we have been exploring are running anywhere from $700,000 – $1M. And that is BEFORE needing to invest $60,000 – $100,000 in updates and renovations. Yikes.

By contrast, new construction homes start at $740,000 – $960,000 base (which means builder-grade everything). Add an average of 8% in upgrades plus lot premium fees that average $10,000 and that number quickly inflates to $809,200 – $1.05M.

So you can see our conundrum. To build or not to build. That is THE question.

Mt Si and surrounding snow dusted hilltops loom over homes built in the Snoqualmie Ridge neighborhood as seen from Snoqualmie Community Park. Credit: Seattle Times, 2016

In our circumstance, we are leaning toward building new construction. We enjoyed the process of customizing our townhouse and would like that flexibility for our next home too. We plan to be there for 20+ years, so it sort of makes sense for us in the long run.

What would you do?

Here are some things we weighed upon in guiding our decision process. Maybe if you’re on the fence, these could be helpful for you too!

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