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Remodeling Survey Shines Light on Homeowner Sentiment

Discovering why homeowners choose to remodel can reveal unexpected insights into attitudes and expectations about the current housing market. According to the latest Remodeling Market Index (RMI), released quarterly by the National Association of Home Builders, the number of homeowners who cite “desire to be able to age in place” as a reason for wanting to remodel their homes was trending upward in Q1 2018.

With many homeowners facing surging home prices, increasing interest rates, and limited inventory, staying put in an existing home is likely gaining appeal for more people than it otherwise would. The Remodeling Market Index survey results suggest more homeowners are thinking about staying in their current homes rather than shopping around, so it makes sense that they would want to repair and revitalize that home for the long haul.

“Aging in place” wasn’t the most popular reason given for wanting to remodel, however. That honor, according to the RMI, was the “desire for newer/better amenities.” The survey asked remodelers “to rate how often their customers cite particular reasons for remodeling on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 indicates never or almost never, and 5 is very often.” The “desire for newer/better amenities” received a 4.3 rating on the Q1 RMI.

The next most-common remodeling reason cited was “need to repair/replace old components” at 4.1, followed by “desire/need for more space” at 3.8 and then “want to avoid moving/buying another home” at 3.5. The desire to age in place came in fifth with a rating of 3.4.

However, while it might only be midway up the list, the desire to age in place is experiencing a surge in recent years. In 2012, only 32 percent of remodelers rated that reason as a 4 or 5. That percentage increased steadily over the years until it hit 42 percent in 2017—and then jumped up to 52 percent in 2018.

“Repairing a damaged property” tied “want to increase value of home as an investment,” both with a rating of 2.8. Below that was “energy efficiency/environmental concerns” with a ranking of 2.4, “change the number of people living in the house” with a 2.3, and “to accommodate multi-generational living” with a 2.2. (That latter factor is a growing trend. According to the Pew Research Center, a record 64 million people lived in multigenerational homes in the United States.)

The last two responses on the RMI top 12 were both more geared toward getting homes back on the market. “Getting an ordinary non-distressed property ready for resale” came in 11th with a 1.8 rating, followed by “getting a property ready for REO/short/other distressed sale” with a 1.4.

About Author: David Wharton

David Wharton, Editor-in-Chief at the Five Star Institute, is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, where he received his B.A. in English and minored in Journalism. Wharton has nearly 20 years' experience in journalism and previously worked at Thomson Reuters, a multinational mass media and information firm, as Associate Content Editor, focusing on producing media content related to tax and accounting principles and government rules and regulations for accounting professionals. Wharton has an extensive and diversified portfolio of freelance material, with published contributions in both online and print media publications. He can be reached at [email protected].

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