Home-improvement spending is expected to decline 12% in 2009, according to Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. Lower financing costs may be starting to stabilize the downturn in existing home sales, but "they have not been enough to offset rising unemployment and falling consumer confidence and encourage homeowners to undertake major home improvement projects," said Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center, in a news release.Liquid stainless steel and the return of the staycation. People opting for affordable countertops instead of granite. Perhaps they would prefer real food over Top Ramen as well? Guess when your property does not pay you decisions have to be made much more carefully.
It's much different than the days when home-equity lending was plentiful. Before doing anything, people are carefully considering how they should spend their money.
In the days of easy credit, "there was a feeling of 'we can't go wrong, let's just get started,'" said Bill Judson, an architect with HartmanBaldwin Design/Build, based in Claremont, Calif. "Now, it's harder to get money, in terms of credit, and homeowners are taking it a little slower and educating themselves a little more."
Nationally, the volume of countertop project requests rose 39% in the first quarter of 2009, compared with the first quarter of 2008, while major kitchen remodels are down 19%, according to ServiceMagic's most-recent Home Remodeling and Repair Index/Survey. The data comes from the company's service requests; the site received 4.2 million requests from homeowners in 2008. Service requests for bathroom remodels were down 10% in the first quarter of this year, according to the report.
At the recent Kitchen/Bath Industry Show, affordable remodeling products included liquid stainless steel to refinish appliances and do-it-yourself backsplashes, Sweet said.