What Does the Boost in Young Homeowners’ Remodeling Spending Mean?

More people under 35 are buying homes, and they're starting to spend serious money on improvements.

In recent decades, home purchases and remodels have been primarily driven by Baby Boomers. And, it’s true that Boomers have the resources and inclination to modify their home as they prepare to age in place.

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But, a recent report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies shows the number of homeowners under 35 has grown noticeably, as have their remodeling budgets. Let’s dive into these numbers to see what’s behind the increase and how it might impact the remodeling industry.

In the decade following the housing crash, first-time homebuyers slowed due to a combination of increased starter housing cost, higher student loan liability, and lower wage growth. But the Harvard report shows this trend reversing, with the number of homebuyers under 35 increasing 6% from 2015 to 2017. Even more dramatically, the remodeling dollars spent by younger homeowners spiked 38% since the 2013 post-recession low!

In other words: more people under 35 are buying homes, and they’re starting to spend serious money on improvements. The Harvard study shows 34% of that group paid $50,000 or more on a single project.

How can you capture this growing piece of the pie?

Understand your customer’s goals. Younger homeowners are less likely to spend on replacing roofs, siding, and windows, instead opting for remodels that accommodate their family lifestyle (rec rooms and kitchens). Young or first-time homebuyers with children are also inclined to do some DIY projects, as shown in this 2019 data from Home Improvement Research Institute. (For more detail: Which Homeowners Hire Pros the Most?) Leaning into this DIY attitude with a “we build it, you paint it” offer could be very lucrative.

No matter what your approach, the growing participation of younger homeowners is good news for the future of the remodeling marketplace.