More People Improving Homes

May 9, 2005
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NEW YORK — A report by Scarborough Research has found that the percentage of homeowners who performed any home improvement project during the past year increased by 18 percent compared to 2001. The study found that 65 percent of America's homeowners invested in a home improvement project during the past 12 months.

"The overall increase in projects is due to the fact that today's home owners have an investment mentality — the thinking is that if one invests in a project today, it will pay off with the eventual sale of the home," said Bob Cohen, president and chief executive officer of Scarborough Research. "This mentality manifests itself in the Scarborough study, as we see more home owners taking on involved and expensive projects, such as remodeling."

Of that, homeowners are focusing more on the interior improvements. Several interior home improvement categories have increased since Scarborough's last home improvement study in 2001.

With 35 percent of homeowners doing so in the past year, interior paint/wallpaper displaced landscaping as the leading home improvement project, up 30 percent since 2001.

Other increases were seen in carpeting/floor covering (up 13 percent), bathroom remodeling (27 percent), and kitchen remodeling (up 25 percent increase).

"The focus on interiors can be in part attributed to the insecurity of today's world," Cohen said. "People are taking refuge in their homes more than ever, and keeping one's sanctuary fresh and new — even by taking on simple, inexpensive projects — adds to the feelings of peace and warmth people get from their home."

"Undoubtedly, home improvement has a new role in popular culture," said Alisa Joseph, Scarborough Research vice president of advertiser marketing services. "There are countless television programs and seminars on the topic — and the hosts are young and hip artists and contractors who make even the most complex of projects feel attainable to the average American. This has given rise to a new generation of do-it-yourself home owners who eagerly roll up their sleeves and grab a paintbrush or hammer and get to work on the home."

The Scarborough analysis found that Minneapolis is the top U.S. local market for home improvements among the 75 markets measured with 74 percent of homeowners conducting home improvement projects during the past year, 13 percent higher than the national average.

Rochester, N.Y.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Providence, R.I.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; and Hartford, Conn., were close behind, with 73 percent of homeowners undertaking projects.

At 68 percent, the Grand Rapids/Battle Creek/Kalamazoo metropolitan area was tied with seven other regions — including Los Angeles and Tucson, Ariz. — for 24th place.

A smaller percentage of West Michigan's homes were spruced up in the past year than in Detroit, where 69 percent of homeowners made improvements.

With 62 percent, the Flint/Saginaw/Bay City area was the state's only surveyed region below the national average.     

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