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Buying vs. Building A Home in Northeast PA


Buying vs. Building A Home in Northeast PA

Are you looking for your dream home in Northeast PA? Out here, away from the bigger cities, there is plenty of space available. You can buy a lot of land to build on or find an existing home that checks all the boxes on your wish list. Of course, choosing your first or next home is a big decision. Here’s everything you need to know about the cost of buying vs building a home and other factor to consider.

Buying An Existing Home in Northeast PA

Whether you’re buying your first home or looking for your next one, here’s what you need to know about buying an existing home in Northeast PA.


There are many advantages to buying an existing home, such as:

  • The house is already done, so you can move in faster.
  • May be able to negotiate on price.
  • Financing is more straightforward with a home purchase mortgage loan.
  • Usually, the more cost-effective option and you can always renovate down the line.
  • Likely to have some existing landscaping such as grass, shrubs, trees, and/or garden beds.


Of course, buying an existing home may not be the best option for every homebuyer. Depending on how long your list of “must-haves” is, it may be hard to find an existing house that has everything you’re looking for.

Then you have to decide if you can settle for not getting exactly what you want. Which of the items on your list are you willing to sacrifice to find an existing home?

Finally, depending on the age and condition of the existing home you buy, you may need to pay for maintenance and repairs as soon as you move in.

Cost of Buying a Home in Northeast PA

While Northeast PA home prices increased during the pandemic as city dwellers snapped up country homes, the real estate market in Mount Pocono, Wayne, and Monroe counties seems to finally be settling down. Sales are down and price reductions are on the rise.

Average home prices in Northeast PA

  • Scranton: The average home value is $138,007, up 7.2% over the past year.
  • Honesdale: The median listing price is $275,000, up 7% year-over-year.
  • Taylor: The average home value is $169,151, up 8.2% over the past year.
  • Mt. Pocono: The median listing price is $230,000, down about 6% year-over-year.
  • Clarks Summit: The median listing price is $282,000, down 2.7% year-over-year.

When buying an existing home, purchase price isn’t the only number to budget for. You’ll also have to plan for a down payment, closing costs, and homeowner’s insurance.       

Property Taxes

With an existing home, you can see what the property taxes are before you buy. If you build a new home, your tax bill might not be assessed until after your house is built.

Buying New Homes in Northeast PA

In this section, we’ll look at what goes into buying a new construction home in Northeast PA, whether in a longtime neighborhood or a new development.

Buying New Construction in PA

If you like the feel of a new home but don’t want the headache of overseeing a custom home from the ground up, consider a new construction home.

Depending on where the builder is in the construction process, you may still be able to make some customizations. If you’re buying in a new community, you may be able to choose from different layouts and finishes. If you’re buying a one-off new home in a more established neighborhood, you may have less of a say.

When browsing home listings online, you can search specifically for new construction homes:

New Developments and Communities

The pros and cons of buying a new home in a new development or community include:

  • Choose from multiple home layouts and interior styles.
  • You pay before it’s built so you do have a certain level of customization, especially with choosing interior finishes.
  • Will most likely have the additional cost of a monthly HOA fee to cover certain maintenance such as snow removal and grass cutting, as well as any perks like a community pool.
  • New home costs taxes may still be higher than existing homes in that same area.
  • While new homes are often more expensive than existing homes, you may get a deal with certain incentives if you are buying into a new development or working with a home builder.

How To Finance an Existing or New House

A mortgage loan is the best way to finance the purchase of a new or existing house. You can choose between a fixed-rate or variable rate (ARM loan) mortgage. Citizens Savings Bank also participates in several First Time Home Buyer programs, including the First Front Door Program (FFDP) provided by the Federal Home Loan Bank.

Check out our recent blog article on preparing to apply for a mortgage loan.

Building A Home from The Ground Up

Sometimes you just want more control over the design and construction process. Here’s what you need to know about building a home from the ground up in Northeast PA.


  • Custom design means you can get things the way you want, from choosing the site of your new home to the floor plan, architectural touches, interior finishes, and landscaping.
  • Less competition means a lower likelihood of bidding wars.
  • You don’t have to worry about the number and quality of houses on the market. There is plenty of land for sale in Lackawanna, Monroe, and Wayne counties and the surrounding area.
  • Since everything is new, it will likely be quite some time before you need to make repairs.
  • Less likely to have harmful materials such as asbestos and lead.
  • You can make your new home more energy efficient, which will save you money in the long run.


  • You have the added step of purchasing land before you can build a new home.
  • Your new home won’t be move-in ready until construction is complete and a certificate of occupancy has been issued.
  • You will need to find a builder to do the work.
  • You may have to cover two housing payments at the same time: pay rent or mortgage for your current home while also making payments on a construction loan to finance your new home.
  • Even if your current home is paid off, while you are still living there you will be paying taxes, utilities, insurance, etc.
  • You can run into unexpected costs and delays such as material or labor shortages, bad weather (snow is especially common in the Mt. Pocono area), etc.
  • If you buy raw land to build on, you may need to set it up for utilities such as electric, heating, plumbing, etc.
  • The lengthy construction process can be more stressful than buying an existing home.
  • More effort and decisions are required, so you may want to consider an interior designer to help you with choosing fixtures, colors, etc.

Overall, you can expect a new custom home to be more expensive (about $180,000 pricier) than buying an existing home in Pennsylvania.

Cost to Build a Home in Northeast PA

You can expect to spend about $100-$280 per square foot to build a new house in Pennsylvania. For a 2,000 square-foot house, that works out to $200,000-$560,000.

Some of the costs associated with new construction are relatively fixed, such as laying a foundation ($6-$10 per square foot) and framing a house ($2-$12 per square foot). However, you do have some control over the total cost depending on the type of layout, architectural details, landscaping, and interior finishes you choose.

How To Finance Building a New Home

A construction loan is a type of short-term financing to cover all the costs associated with building a new house from the ground up. Citizens Savings Bank offers single-close construction loans for primary and second home construction. Single-close construction loans automatically convert to a long-term conventional mortgage once your new home is move-in ready. This saves you the hassle and costs of a second closing. If you will be selling your current home after your new one is built, you can put the proceeds towards the mortgage balance on your new home.

If you need to purchase land to build on, a lot loan can help you finance your land purchase.

Contact our mortgage lenders in Northeast PA!

For most people, buying or building a home is the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make. If all goes well, it will also be one of your biggest assets. So, it’s a big decision to choose between buying an existing home, a new home in a planned community, or building a custom home from the ground up. Take your time to weigh your options, assess your finances, and think through your housing needs. Keep in mind, all loans are subject to credit approval. If you have questions about mortgage and construction loans, or are ready to get pre-qualified, talk to one of our local mortgage experts in Scranton, Mount Pocono, Taylor, Clarks Summit, or Honesdale, PA.

Learn More

Citizens Savings Bank has multiple locations throughout Lackawanna, Wayne, and Monroe Counties. For branch locations and hours, visit our website. We also have a Customer Support Team ready to answer any questions you may have. Call us today at 1.800.692.6279 or email [email protected]. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.