Charlie Glahe WIN Broomfield

Home improvement activity, spending expected to increase, Harvard researchers say


Perhaps due to a combination of record-low mortgage rates, improving home values and a more well-balanced real estate market, spending on home improvement projects is anticipated to pick up steam as the year grows older, a new report suggests.

According to a recent study released by researchers from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, real estate industry forecasters believe that the amount of spending consumers put toward remodeling projects will continue to make "strong gains" throughout the balance of 2013, potentially subsiding marginally by November or December.

Eric Belsky, managing director of the ivy league housing institute, indicated that several market fundamentals point to renovation spending edging northward.

"Existing home sales were up almost 9 percent last year, and house prices are increasing in most markets across the country," said Belsky. "This has increased the home equity levels for most homeowners, encouraging them to reinvest in their homes."

Renovations increasingly being done for 'green' reasons
Several recent polls have had similar findings. Remodeling and design company Houzz reported in late-March that nearly 60 percent of homeowners plan on refurbishing their residences within the next two years and more than half of respondents said they were doing so because they thought it was a good time for it, given the improvements that have been apparent in the real estate industry.

The same poll also found that when individuals planning on remodeling were asked what was driving them to have their properties done over, more than one-third indicated that they wanted to make their homes more energy-efficient.

The last week of April is Earth Week. Not only is it a good idea to have a home inspection done each year around this time, but it's particularly advisable for those planning on remodeling with energy-efficiency in mind, as professionals should be able to provide some tips on what improvements will bring the most return on investment.

Statistics suggest that consumers are placing a higher priority on eco-friendly activity, illustrated by the increased pace of hybrid auto sales as well as home improvement projects done for the green benefits. Interestingly, though, nearly one in five consumers admit to being more envirocentric because they want to be looked upon more favorably by their peers.

No matter what the motivation, greater conscientious for the environment is a win-win scenario.