In real estate, Covid has changed a lot — buyers are fleeing cities and our coastal communities are a popular landing spot, driving up prices and creating a sellers market, at the same time …
In real estate, Covid has changed a lot — buyers are fleeing cities and our coastal communities are a popular landing spot, driving up prices and creating a sellers market, at the same time that low interest rates are allowing many homeowners to refinance and take on home renovations.
For those whose industry and income have not been negatively impacted by the pandemic, much of the money saved on travel, entertainment and dining out has been reallocated to home improvements and enhancements.
According to Homeadvisor.com’s State of Home Spending report for 2020, average spending rose to $13,138, from $9,081 in 2019. Increased costs accounted for some of that change, but 2020 also changed how much time we spend in our homes — and consequently, how much money we are willing to spend on them.
“Home has become more important than ever,” said Tracey Mulvey with RE/MAX River’s Edge. “Kitchens are always at the top of the list.” More cooking at home means that we are spending a lot more time than ever in our kitchens, and if they aren’t working for us, they quickly move up the priority list. Kitchens are typically the most expensive room in the house, both in new construction and renovation projects, closely followed by bathrooms.
Investing in the green spaces
Outdoor spaces became the key to maintaining social connections as the pandemic enforced social distancing through the summer and into fall, and spending on decks and patios took priority for some homeowners. As fall rolled around and temperatures dropped, fire pits became the hot new commodity, with choices ranging from inexpensive small-profile metal models to large built-in stone pits, integrated into new or existing patios and landscaping.
Another popular property enhancement? Gardens.
“When the pandemic started, we started getting requests for gardens, both perennial and vegetable gardens,” said Mike DaPonte of DaPonte’s Landscaping Services in Bristol. “People were interested in creating their own farm-to-table gardens at home. They didn’t just want ornamental trees, they wanted to be able to pick their own apples.” Mr DaPonte added that in-ground pools are another popular upgrade, though if you do not already have your plans in place, you may already be too late for the upcoming season.
“We’re seeing lots of interest in upgraded patios and outdoor living spaces, as well as pools. Swimming pool contractors can’t keep up with the demand, and they are currently bidding on jobs that they won’t even be able to begin until after July.”
A fresh coat of paint
Don’t have the cash for a pricey kitchen renovation, a pool, or a new stone patio? Homebound homeowners have found interior painting to be a budget-friendly (often do-it-yourself) way to dramatically change a tired space — more than 30 percent of homeowners surveyed for the Homeadvisor report replied that they took on a painting project in 2020. Technology is another lower-cost approach to a satisfying home improvement. Included among the top 30 purchases on the last Amazon Prime Day in Oct. 2020, were the Fire TV stick, the Echo Dot smart speaker, the Amazon Smart Plug, the iRobot Roomba vacuum, the Ring video doorbell, and the MyQ smart garage door opener.
“Kitchen and bath, always,” said Dina Karousos of Gustave White, when asked about where her clients were putting their renovation dollars. “But in this past year we are also seeing a lot of basements waterproofed and finished as home gyms, and walls restructured in open floor plans to create home offices.”
“With everyone working from home, and kids distance learning, you just can’t work at the kitchen counter from your laptop any more.”