Bump in housing recovery may spark home improvements

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ March 25, 2012

The housing market is showing signs of a recovery this spring and contractors are listening. Prices are up from a year ago and residential building is responding to a call for a larger rental market. We're still a long way from bursting out of the dark woods. But with a sign of thaw in the market, you may want to put some of your least-costly, most-effective home improvement or remodeling projects back on the to-do list.

According to Reuters, new home sales dropped from January to February this year, but February sales were more than 11 percent higher than compared with the same month for 2011. Reuters writer Lucia Mutikani proclaimed, "The worst of the six-year slump seems to be over."

For the month, median new home prices jumped 6.2 percent over the previous February. Trends show a better outlook for sales of used homes, too, Mutikani said. One Atlanta realtor confirmed that listings are selling at a rate approaching "2007 pre-crash levels".

New home sales make up only about about seven percent of the total market, Reuters found meaning, meaning a break in the housing log-jam will positively affect homeowners looking to upgrade-even from curb-appeal standpoint-for sales.

What about remodeling now?

Contractors have to be mildly hopeful about the findings. Optimism among home builders maintains a four-year high. Permits for new construction have reached a three-and-a-half-year high. Still, it's tough to get overly optimistic when, as Reuters reports, one home still faces foreclosure for every two that are currently sold.

While homeowners may choose to wait for lending policies to relax or for greater evidence of recovery to develop before undertaking large remodeling projects, there are home maintenance or improvement projects that may be right-sized for economic realities.

Start by evaluating practical ways of addressing your home's more glaring needs. Ask yourself questions like, "Will I be painting myself or hire a professional? Can I find deals on building materials for the spring? Would adding energy efficient windows, doors or appliances make sense this year? Is there a plumbing or electrical issue that affects my family's comfort and/or safety?"

Even a sliver of good news in what has been a turbulent handful of years should be a welcome harbinger of spring. Hopefully it will renew your faith that your home is still a precious, valuable asset worth maintaining.

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