by Erik J. Martin
Years ago, many homeowners would often embark on ambitious renovation projects with the primary goal of increasing resale value and unloading their properties. But today, folks are looking to fix up their abodes and enjoy the comforts and benefits of those home improvements long term, based on the latest data.
Results of HomeAdvisor’s 2018 True Cost Survey reveal that homeowners are opting to remodel versus sell and move: Over 80 percent say they plan to remain in their existing homes, and half of all respondents are thinking about making improvements. Consider, too, that only 7 percent of owners are renovating to prepare their homes to be sold, per a recent poll by LightStream – the lowest percentage tallied since 2015; 14 percent of owners across all age groups cite “aging in place” as a rationale for making upgrades.
Janet Lorusso, the principal designer/owner of JRL Interiors, isn’t surprised by this news. “The choice to renovate rather than move is increasingly alluring. People put down roots and have relationships and networks in their neighborhoods and towns that are hard to give up,” she says. “Moving is a daunting task and not without its own headaches and expenses. And remodeling is often necessary to get top dollar for your property anyway, so why not stay and enjoy it?”
What’s more, “housing costs are on the rise, housing inventory is tight, and remodeling a current home allows homeowners to customize their living space and accommodate their lifestyle,” notes Kristin Shuff, senior vice president of marketing at LightStream.
Additionally, homeowners are continually inspired by programs, content, and visuals on HGTV, the DIY Network, Pinterest and Instagram, says Krystle Pickens, principal designer with DBK Home.
“It gives them the confidence to start researching how a renovation works and how to connect with remodelers, designers and experts,” says Pickens.
“Aging in place” used to be a proclivity among seniors only, but nowadays younger owners are taking up this trend, too.
“Even 11 percent of 18- to 34-year-old respondents to our survey state they are undertaking remodeling projects to stay in their homes and add flexible spaces that have different uses over time. For example, building a family room, for now, that can be converted to a first-floor master bedroom as family needs change,” adds Shuff.
This time of year can be a great time to start a remodeling project. “As we turn the corner toward winter, it may be easier to find and book the professionals you need – who were busier in spring and summer – to get the job done,” suggests Shuff.
Whether you plan to stay put or sell soon, updating outmoded spaces is always a good investment. “If you are staying, you improve your quality of life and outlook by upgrading your surroundings,” Lorusso notes. “If you are selling, smart updates will help you sell faster and for more money.”
If you have the itch to modernize, remember that proper planning can make all the difference. “Set goals and priorities for your projects. Gather research on your best options by getting quotes from several different vendors or contractors and talking with friends and relatives about any projects they’ve pursued,” says Shuff.
It’s also smart to “have a few professional designers review what you’re planning to do and suggest ideas before you undertake a project. The more information you can gather before you start, the more choices you’ll be able to make,” recommends Raun Thorp, co-owner of Tichenor & Thorp Architects.
Many predict this “improve in place” movement isn’t going away anytime soon. “I think it’s here to stay for a while. Even our clients with huge estates are remodeling rather than moving,” says Thorp.
Shuff agrees. “We believe this trend will continue,” she says. “Over the past four years, we’ve seen a continuing appetite for home renovation. Our research shows that homeowners feel more optimistic about their budgets and more financially confident to take on these types of projects.”