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Housing Perspectives

Research, trends, and perspective from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies

Sunbelt Metros to See Strongest Home Remodeling Growth in 2021

Expenditures for improvements to the owner-occupied housing stock are expected to increase in nearly all of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas this year, according to projections released today by our Remodeling Futures Program. Following a pandemic-induced slowdown, projections for 2021 show annual home improvement spending growing from 1–13 percent in 42 major metropolitan areas, while declining modestly at 1.5 percent or less in four of the 46 metros tracked. Collectively, large metro areas are expected to see stronger remodeling gains in 2021 with an average growth of almost 5 percent compared to an estimated gain of 2 percent in 2020. Fully 14 metros are projected to see robust growth above 6 percent this year, while an additional 17 metros are set for moderate gains between 3 and 6 percent.

Broad strength in house price appreciation, existing home sales, and residential construction suggest that many metros will see greater renovation activity this year. The largest remodeling spending gains are projected to occur in relatively more affordable metros in the Sunbelt, with over 9 percent growth expected in Oklahoma City, Tucson, Charlotte, Phoenix, and San Antonio.

Although home remodeling is a bright spot in the economy overall, owner improvement spending is projected to contract slightly in a few high-cost metropolitan areas including New York, Denver, Boston, and San Jose. While other higher-cost metros—Washington, DC, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle—are expected to have only modest levels of spending growth between 1 and 3 percent this year.

San Antonio photo/Brandon Watts