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Home Maintenance and Hurricanes

A direct impact from the 2017 hurricane season has led to a sharp spike in home maintenance and remodeling activities, according to a housing health report published by BuildFax [1] on Tuesday.

The report, which looks at single-family housing authorizations, existing housing maintenance, and existing housing remodeling indicated that while the annual rate of authorizations for single-family housing units picked up the pace in September, the volume for housing maintenance projects and spend increased at progressively larger margins.  The report revealed that the pace of home remodeling was leveling out after a few years of steep increases.

These sharp spikes, according to the BuildFax report, are likely a result of the 2017 hurricane season.

"Typically, we see dips in maintenance and remodeling activity immediately following a natural disaster, as we saw in Florida following Hurricane Irma, which caused $10 billion in insured losses. Irma’s impact on Florida in September 2017 directly contributed to last month’s 5.06 percent increase in maintenance activity," said Jonathan Kanarek, COO, BuildFax.

The trend also indicates continued improvements to the health of the supply of the existing home as homeowners look to maintain their properties instead of investing in new ones, the report revealed. The annual rate of housing volume maintenance increased by 5.06 percent in September and the year-over-year spend on housing maintenance surged 18.14 percent from September 2017.

On the other hand, the report revealed that the annual rate of housing remodeling volume increased by 2.39 percent in September. Year over year the spend on remodeling increased at a rate of 15.96 percent.

For new housing supply, the report revealed that single-family housing authorizations increased at a seasonally adjusted rate of 3.20 percent month over month. On an annual basis, it increased by 10.91 percent over September 2017.

The data also revealed a correlation between the spike in remodeling and maintenance activities in Harris County which was affected by Hurricane Harvey last year.

"Hurricane Harvey is a different story. Harris County's non-traditional permitting strategies spiked maintenance activity shortly after landfall. This will likely impact remodeling and maintenance activity well into 2019 and we'll be tracking these trends in depth over time," Kanarek said.

The reported spike, according to BuildFax was due to authorities in Houston’s Harris County traveling to affected areas and flagging properties that suffered damage due to the storm. "This process was implemented to designate impacted properties as eligible for FEMA funding," the report said. "Harris County flagged tens of thousands of properties in September and October 2017, which manifested as a drastic spike in maintenance and remodeling activity."

To read the full report, click here [2].