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A Year Into Pandemic, Home Means Something Different

The pandemic and resultant stay-at-home orders, which have many Americans continuing to work from home today, have profoundly altered the way people perceive their residential property.

"America has undergone a profound shift in its understanding of home, driving homeowners to want more space, new uses, and a better environment to nurture positive changes that evolved during lockdown. They also want to address design, condition, and space frustrations they felt while spending uninterrupted time indoors." That is according to the eighth annual LightStream Home Improvement Trends Survey.

It showed nearly half (47%) of U.S. homeowners say they are utilizing their space differently since the onset of the pandemic.

More than two-thirds (69%), according to the study, say spending more time at home has made them eager to upgrade.

"Before the pandemic, 'home' was a 'home base' for launching activities. Under stay-at-home orders, it became the only place, for everything," said Todd Nelson, SVP of Strategic Partnerships at LightStream. "Our 2021 survey shows many Americans spent time thinking creatively about what they want and need from their homes. Many are now ready to invest in improvements, remodels, and repairs. However, in the rush to renovate it's not only important to plan project outcomes, it's critical to have a smart financial strategy in place to pay for it all."

Among survey respondents, 91% reported a lack of space in their home became a big frustration during the COVID-19 situation. Thus, 12% said they were planning home additions.

"As spaces are being reimagined, the most popular projects homeowners plan to spend money on in 2021 include kitchen remodels (38%), outdoor improvements (35%), bathrooms remodels (32%), and home repair/technology upgrades (30%)," according to LightStream.

One of the primary reasons for needing more space is that the number of children or adults has increased in more than one in ten (12%) U.S. households due to COVID-19 safety (35%), health reasons (20%), or other changes.

As a result, the researchers reported, more than half (56%) of those newly-expanded households have renovation plans for 2021.

"After a year of stay-at-home orders, it makes sense that consumers are rethinking their home needs.  But just as important, they should also be strategizing how they're going to pay for those renovations," continues Nelson.

Savings is the No. 1 source of paying for improvements (66% of those surveyed), while their second source of payment is credit cards (30%).

Nelson says homeowners using a credit card could save by seeking an installment loan

"Compared to using credit cards­­—which on average run over 18% APR—the low fixed rates and fixed terms of a personal loan, cashout refinance or mortgage refinance are really attractive," he added.

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media/Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning news, among others. Contact Christina at christina.hughesbabb@thefivestar.com.

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