BRANDPOINT — With people across the country spending more time at home than ever before, home improvement projects are increasingly becoming top of mind for homeowners. Despite the financial difficulties brought on by the pandemic, 77 percent of homeowners say their home renovation budget for 2020 is the same or greater than last year, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Whether it's finally having time to make their dream home improvements a reality or preparing their homes to sell, homeowners are optimistic about completing renovations this year. NAR's survey found the top three home renovations that homeowners hope to complete within their budgets in 2020 are:
A new bathroom (28 percent);
A new kitchen (23 percent); and
Fencing in their yards (21 percent).
"In an ever-changing world, homeownership provides sanctuary, safety and financial security," said NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco. "As we celebrate Homeownership Month, we recognize that buying a home is one of the most rewarding transactions people will make in their lifetimes. Making your home your dream home through remodeling projects takes time and patience, but Realtors and homeowners alike recognize the feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction and potentially higher home values that come with it."
The survey also revealed homeowners are attuned to how the pandemic may influence prospective buyers' preferences. A fenced-in yard, for example, the third most popular project for 2020, didn't even make the top 10 Realtor-recommended projects in NAR's 2019 Remodeling Impact Report, which examined a variety of remodeling projects and their appeal, value and potential return on investment. A further 21 percent of homeowners expect new additions such as a home office, gym or other space will offer one of the greatest returns on investment - another project that Realtors would not have recommended as a top priority based on 2019 data.
"Homeownership looks different now than it did years or even months ago - our homes have become offices, gyms and studios, so we're seeing a shift in priority of the types of features that homeowners and potential buyers want," Malta said. "Homeowners must keep in mind that some projects that sound appealing during a pandemic have not historically provided as much value when selling a home."
Still, some renovation priorities remain unchanged: Kitchen and bathroom upgrades and remodels were highly recommended by Realtors in 2019, and continue to top most homeowners' lists now.
"Not only will improvements like updated kitchens for a better cooking experience be of interest to potential home buyers, but renovations such as adding space for a home office or gym will increasingly be in higher demand as we follow social distancing guidelines."
Realtors can help homeowners understand their local real estate markets as well as determine which home renovations improve quality of life and provide a greater return on investment during this 'new normal' of homeownership.