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The Pandemic Leads to Surges in Home Buying and Remodeling


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Mar 31, 2010
Surges in Home Buying and Remodeling
Two studies show that homeowners are moving on renovations, and almost half of renters want to buy a home, after the coronavirus outbreak.
Surge in Remodeling
Despite widespread disruptions to the U.S. economy from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 73% of homeowners are planning to renovate their homes in 2020, according to a May 2020 LightStream home improvement survey
. That percentage is only slightly below the 77% of homeowners reporting home improvement plans for 2020 in a January LightStream survey.

Adobe Stock
According to the survey, summarized by Vince Salandro in Remodeling, individuals are moving forward with or expanding projects at more than twice the rate of those cutting back or canceling planned projects. COVID-19 is shifting where the attention of homeowners lies, though, and nearly half of homeowners planning home improvement projects want to complete an outdoor project. In particular, parents are more likely than non-parents to upgrade outdoor spaces and take on pool projects.
Of homeowners cutting back or canceling 2020 projects, the majority are doing so because of a reprioritization of discretionary spending. Additionally, nearly 30% of homeowners are choosing instead to build up savings and assets while 28% of homeowners experienced loss of income individually or within the family.
The average amount homeowners plan to spend on improvement projects ($11,851) has increased slightly from January ($11,473). Fewer millennials are planning to renovate compared to January, but millennials are pursuing more expensive projects now, planning to spend on average $16,088 on projects.
The LightStream Home Improvement Survey, conducted by Wakefield Research, generated responses from 1,300 nationally representative U.S. homeowners between May 7 and May 15 via an online survey. Quotas were set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. homeowner population.
Surge in New Homes?
Another study found that almost half of respondents would now prefer to own versus rent, and for those households planning to continue to rent, not surprisingly single-family detached homes, rather than apartments, are the top choice.
Adobe Stock/Andy Dean Photography
Writing in Builder, Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki reports on the "The America at Home Study," conducted online in April of 3,001 consumers 25 to 74 years old with household incomes of $50,000 plus. Almost half (46%) of current renters say they would now prefer to own versus rent, potentially representing 7.4 million households in the U.S. The majority of the respondents ranged in age from 25 to 44. This is a sizable shift since the NAHB’s first quarter 2020 Housing Trends Report indicated just 16% of respondents of the same age were expecting to purchase their first home in the next year.
According to the author, these survey results suggest that the desire to move is so strong that many buyers are willing to make concessions - a change for many younger homebuyers who previously were holding out for the perfect home before purchasing. In particular, 35- to 44-year-old prospective homebuyers were most willing to make concessions. According to the survey, these were some the compromises they were willing to settle for in order to buy a home:
  • Different/less expensive location (53%)
  • Smaller yard size (45%)
  • Fewer features or upgrades (44%)
  • Smaller/no garage (39%) tied with attached home type (39%)