Aging homes will keep remodelers busy
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
It’s not just homeowners but also their homes that are aging in place. As the pace of new home construction has slowed, America’s existing housing stock is getting older and older.
The majority of these homes are more than 30 years old, and a sizable portion are more than 50 years old. To meet the demands of today’s building codes and younger buyers, these homes eventually will need to be updated and renovated, which should provide a steady pipeline of projects for remodelers for some time to come.
According to a study conducted by remodeling cost website Fixr.com, a majority of U.S. states had homes with a median age of 35 to 39 years in 2018. Ten states had homes with a median age of 40 to 47 years, and eight states had homes with a median age of 49 years or older, up to 75 years. Overall, northeastern states had the largest numbers of oldest houses, whereas central and southeastern states had the largest numbers of newer houses.
The study also found that on average the older the home, the more homeowners spent on renovation projects. Average spending on homes in more than half of states fell within the $8,000 to $9,999 range. The highest was Washington, D.C., with an average spending of $11,967 and an average housing-stock age of 40 to 47 years.
Over the past several years, homeowners have been taking advantage of rising home equity and low-interest loans to upgrade and renovate their properties. Nonetheless, many older homes will need substantial renovations in the future when they become available for sale.
Calculations by the National Association of Home Builders estimate that the typical buyer of a single-family home can be expected to stay in the home for approximately 13 years. However, a study undertaken last year by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University (JCHS) found that large numbers of older homeowners had lived in their homes for 20 years or more, and many anticipated remaining in the same home for the foreseeable future. In the next five to ten years, more of these homes will be coming onto the market and will require renovation to meet the standards and needs of younger buyers.
One of those needs, finds a newly released JCHS research brief, will be ensuring a healthy home environment. More and more homeowners and homebuyers are asking for renovations and upgrades to improve indoor environmental quality, especially indoor air quality and water quality, and home health and safety.
According to the study, homeowners and renters ages 25 to 34, as well as those with higher levels of education, are most likely to express concerns about home health issues. Often, one or more occupants will be experiencing a health issue or, such as in the case of young children, could be susceptible to toxins, pollutants or other hazards in the home. Reporting that currently only about half of remodeling firms undertake such projects, the authors foresee considerable opportunities for future growth in healthy home remodeling.
Given the scarcity of available, affordable entry-level homes for first-time buyers, especially those that are move-in ready, consumer advice website NerdWallet suggested in a recent article that prospective buyers consider purchasing a fixer-upper with the help of a home renovation loan to get the home they want.
The article noted that demand for these homes is high, citing data from the National Association of Realtors that around 40 percent of existing home sales last October were comprised of homes selling between $100,000 and $250,000. These homes will need to be brought up to code as well as to current lifestyles and tastes, including healthy homes. All of this points to sustained demand for remodeling services as housing exchanges hands from one generation to the next.
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