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Eric Rothenberger

Remax Central

Trending: Homeowners Spending (and Sweating) More on Home Improvements

More than half (58 percent) of homeowners are planning to spend money on home improvement projects this year, according to the fifth annual LightStream (a division of SunTrust Banks, Inc.) Home Improvement Survey. Budgets for renovations are on the rise: among homeowners planning renovations, 45 percent will spend $5,000 or more — an all-time survey high. Those planning to spend $35,000 or more doubled from 2017.

The survey also revealed the following trends:

Investing Sweat Equity
Sixty-five percent of respondents said they'll do at least some of the renovation work themselves, with 70 percent of the 18 - 34 group planning to work on at least a portion of their renovation.

Focus on the Outdoors
Outdoor home improvements remain popular, with projects such as decks, patios and landscaping ranking at the top of the list for the fifth year in a row (43 percent), up five percent over 2017. Nearly a third (31 percent) of homeowners will tackle a bathroom remodel; more than one in four (26 percent) will redo a kitchen.

Staying Put
Only seven percent of homeowners are renovating to prepare their homes to be sold, the lowest percentage since 2015. Instead, 14 percent of homeowners across all age groups — not just baby boomers — are citing "aging in place" as a reason for making a home improvement. Even respondents aged 18 - 34 (11 percent) and 35 - 44 (10 percent) say they're renovating "to prepare my home so I can stay in it as I get older."

Tax Reform Boosting Budgets
Expecting a financial boost from the new tax legislation, one in four homeowners said tax reform had an impact on the budget for their renovation project, with 18 percent increasing their budget and 7 percent decreasing it.

Paying for Projects
The majority of homeowners (62 percent) plan to pay for projects, at least in part, by using savings. Intent to fund through home equity lines of credit (HELOC) jumped from 10 to 13 percent, thanks to home equity gains. At the same time, the percentage of people intending to use a home improvement loan has grown 29 percent from 2017 with 54 percent more 18- to 34-year-olds planning to fund projects through home improvement financing. While 30 percent of homeowners say they'll pay for some portion of their 2018 project with a credit card, 16 percent fewer homeowners aged 18 to 34 plan to use them compared to last year.