If you can't sell right at the moment, at least make your home more comfortable and livable. That's what Angie's List homeowners are opting to do until the market gets a little better.
"They're going to spend about $11,000 in home improvements in 2008 and that's up about 13 percent from last year," says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List, a website where consumers can locate local contractors and companies.
According to the annual poll conducted by Angie's List, on average, survey respondents plan to spend 2.9 percent of their home's value on repairs and renovations this year. More than 1,300 Angie's List members took the 2007 poll. Responses are representative of Angie's List members but not necessarily the general public.
Hicks says she is frequently asked, "With the downturn in the housing market, what are people doing? Are they still doing home improvement?"
She says the recent poll is counter to what's going on in the general housing market.
"I think what's happening is, people who typically would have sold their house in previous years decided to hang on to it but still are investing dollars in it to make it livable. Maybe their family has grown and they need extra space so they're building that in," says Hicks.
What types of remodeling projects are homeowners concentrating on? Two primary areas that are likely to return at least some of the cost of the remodel if the home is sold: kitchens and bathrooms.
In the survey, remodeling topped the list with 35 percent of the respondents saying they'll do an overall remodel. Landscaping came in second at 11 percent followed by painting the interior or exterior (10 percent), flooring (6 percent), doors and windows (5 percent), and adding or repairing a deck or porch (4 percent).
About 30 percent of homeowners will spend between $5,000 to $10,000 on their remodel while 25 percent said they would spend less than $5,000. Another 21 percent say they will spend between $10,000 to $20,000 and a quarter more of the respondents indicate they will spend more than $20,000.
The reason for the remodel is predominantly to update less-than modern homes, say a whopping 61 percent of the respondents. An additional 27 percent say their homes simply need repairs. Still other homeowners (7 percent) say they're out of space and need to increase the size of their homes. A mere 4 percent say they are aiming to increase the value of their home for a sale.
If you're one of the people who has a remodel planned for the New Year, keep in mind three crucial things before you get started: planning, budgeting, executing.
"A lot of people don't think about what kinds of things might go wrong in their house so they end up adding the deck, but then they're kind of caught off guard when the water heater goes out."
So that extra maintenance expenses don't create a drain in your income, before you begin any remodeling projects, Hicks recommends walking around your house as if you're a potential buyer "because you never look at a house with more scrutiny than you do when you're about to buy it."
She says, as you take your tour, write down everything that might need to be repaired and also the items/projects that you want to add. She says don't think about your budget and what you planned to spend when doing this. Simply write everything down and then rank the items based on most hazardous, need to fix, and wish list.
"And then when you lay your budget next to it you can expect what things you might need to tackle this year so that you don't get caught off guard and find out you need a new roof and don't have money set aside for it," says Hicks.
As for doing the work, 46 percent of respondents say they will hire specialists, but they will oversee it themselves. About 20 percent plan to hire a general contractor while another 20 percent will hire a handyman or generalist and 13 percent plan to roll up their sleeves and do it themselves.