Homeowners Ramp Up Spending on Remodeling

Remodeling is back in fashion – as many discovered during this spring’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. Attendance at the Las Vegas show increased to more than 30,000 visitors, a jump of 145 percent over 2012 figures.

According to recent U.S. Census Bureau data, American consumers increased spending on their homes by 3.1 percent in 2013, compared to 2012, and spending on remodeling now totals $130 billion. BuildFax, which tracks industry activity, notes that remodeling permits have risen by 5.1 percent over 2012.

Homeowners are growing increasingly confident about the future as the equity in their homes increases. Plus, we’re finding it easier to obtain home equity loans. Home-equity lending – which reached a 10-year low point in 2010 – was up by 18 percent last year to $123.4 billion, as estimated by Moody’s Analytics.

Quoted in a Wall Street Journal article, “Americans Boost Spending on Remodeling,” Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist for Deutsche Bank, notes: “If home prices are going up and people have more equity in their home, things like remodeling and refurbishment will do well, because it’s effectively the way of playing the reinvestment game.”

While some are reinvesting, others are sprucing up their homes to sell. Both kitchen and bath remodels are popular ways to increase the value of homes (as well as their asking price). It’s also worth noting that many of today’s projects are significant – going well beyond changing up spaces with a splash of paint and new flooring or countertops.

As the American Institute of Architects’ most recent Home Design Trends Survey indicates, most of the renovation projects completed or underway are kitchen focused. Remodelers say that kitchens are now the center of the home, and computer areas are being added to cooking spaces, along with recharging stations.

Finally, it seems size matters; 89 percent of architects reported that kitchen projects were either “stable” or “increasing” in size.

How to Ensure Your Home’s Safety During Showings

When you’re selling your home, your agent doesn’t just put up a sign: There are procedures involved in showing your home. And that means both sellers and agents have responsibilities.

While it’s the real estate professional’s responsibility to ensure the safety and privacy of the home, it’s the seller’s responsibility to make it easy for agents to show it. The lock box (also called key box) facilitates this.

The lock box is an indispensable tool that makes it easier to show the home and affords access whether or not the seller is present.

That means that when the seller agrees to allow a lock box on the residence, he or she is not only trusting their agent, but agents from other offices who are members of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), and who will be showing the home to their clients.

Through MLS instructions, the listing agent should tell “cooperating” or “buyer” agents how to enter and show the property. It’s up to these cooperating agents to be courteous to the sellers by following the instructions. As well, the high-tech lock box enables the homeowner to know when the home has been accessed, so both agent and seller will be able to follow up should the rules not be followed.

Occasionally, the listing agent fails to include showing instructions and, since the key box is not an open invitation to inspect the property without first checking these instructions, it’s essential that the “cooperating agent” contact the listing office broker for permission and instructions.