Spring Home Renovations: A Sign of Recovery?

The Sunday New York Times Real Estate section contained an article (sorry, I couldn't find the link) that echoes what I've been hearing among local trades in Philadelphia: Homeowners are beginning to spring for projects that have been pending for over a year. The Times reports that "Across the five boroughs and beyond, the renovation business, which fell victim to tightening credit, declining home sales and overall misfortune, is starting to pick up."

It's way too early to postulate a trend -- especially since Spring-time traditionally witnesses an up-tick in maintenance -- but we can certainly hope it will sustain. The Times also cites a recent report from The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University "that the downturn in the home remodeling industry nationwide had hit bottom and that the business would steadily increase through 2010". So unless your mortgage is under water or you live in a dead zone like Las Vegas, it really does make sense to use this stagnate home value period to spruce thing up.

Contractors have grown accustomed over the past year to extremely short pipe-lines of committed future work. Even if that line is beginning to move out, there is still time to negotiate very good deals on material and labor if you're willing to sign a contract and be patient regarding a start date. This strategy of reserving discounted labor can also facilitate more leisurely shopping for the furniture, fixtures and equipment that your project might require.

William Busch

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