Housing rebound: time for remodeling

By: Matt Grocoff , Contributing Writer
In: Green Renovations

What goes down . . . must go up. Unless it's something really, really heavy. For several years now the housing and remodeling market has felt like a rock sinking to the bottom of a pond. Finally, a rise in home prices is restoring some homeowner wealth that was lost during the great crash.

Remodeling on the rise

A recent study by the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) reported that "During the 2007 to 2011 downturn, spending on maintenance and repairs increased about 6 percent, while spending on improvements dropped by 22 percent."

remodeling map

So homeowners and remodelers are due for some good news. According to the JCHS report, The U.S. Housing Stock: Ready for Renewal, "sustainable home improvements are gaining in popularity. Older homeowners are retrofitting their homes to accommodate their future needs. And the future market potential is immense, as the emerging echo boom generation is projected to be the largest in our nation's history."

Green remodeling

This evidences the green renovation and aging-in-place trends that were already underway, even during the lowest points of the recession. With rising and volatile energy prices, homeowners have been seeking ways to lower and stabilize their energy costs. This mirrors the growing popularity of home energy assessments and roof top solar energy.

Sustainable home improvements continue to increase in popularity. Certified green homes, like LEED and Energy Star for Homes, continue to show improved resale value. The cost of remodeling a LEED Certified home is typically not more expensive than typcial remodels. In fact, nearly 50% of LEED homes are affordable housing. Consumers report better health and happiness with their homes. When the homes are put on the market, they sell up to 30% faster. The increased concern for rising energy costs and healthy building seems to be driving the trend.

Renovation for changing families

Baby boomers have been the driving force for home improvement for decades. As households age, their home improvement spending grows. Further, during the recent downturn older homeowners had lower unemployment rates, helping to drive the trend through the recession.

Difficulty with credit and home equity has caused younger homebuyers/owners to have a tougher time buying and renovating homes. Meanwhile, older households show no decline in spending even after staying in the house for a decade or more. Further, the JCHS reports that "lower mobility rates among older owners will likely drive growing demand for retrofits to allow aging in place."


Books for green remodeling:

Green Remodeling For Dummies, by Eric Corey Freed

JCHS Fact Sheet: http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/sites/jchs.harvard.edu/files/remodeling_2013_fact_sheet.pdf


Resources for aging in place: