Will 2013 Values Support Improvements?

By Joanne Y Cleaver | Updated Aug 17, 2013 10:42 PM

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Home Improvement and Real Estate Value

Photo: bostonrealestateblog.bushari.com

2013 is likely to see home values stabilizing—but not because of sale prices. A strengthening labor market is the rising tide that will lift property values, says Abbe Will, research analyst with the Harvard Joint Center on Housing.

The Center makes quarterly projections about remodeling spending. Over the course of the past five years, says Will, large-scale remodeling “nearly completely dried up”. Homeowners concentrated what little they did spend on maintenance and infrastructure, especially on energy- (and dollar-) saving improvements.

In the fourth quarter, unemployment dropped steadily to 7.9% at year-end. In turn, that has bolstered homeowner confidence in values, says Will. She detects early signs that discretionary projects are slowly re-emerging, especially bigger kitchen and bath renovations.

A boom is unlikely, partly due to lenders’ ongoing reluctance to count too much home equity as collateral for renovation financing. It all adds up, says Will, to a yellow light for projects this year. The key is to improve moderately so as not to outstrip comparable values in your neighborhood.

For more on buying and selling homes, consider:

Buy for Your Buyer
3 Top Ways to Capture Value in 2013
Capture High Marks for Below-Grade Improvements