Americans shifting travel and commuting budgets to home repairs during pandemic

Pat J. Fraley

There’s no place like home in 2020 – and Americans who are spending more time in the house continue to invest in their living spaces during the pandemic.

The average household spending on home services such as maintenance, landscaping and cleaning projects jumped to $13,138, up from $9,081 on average in 2020, according to a new State of Home Spending: 2020 report by HomeAdvisor, a marketplace that lets people find and vet home service professionals.

Home improvement spending amounted to an average of $8,305, while home maintenance spending totaled $3,192 and spending on at-home emergency projects like leaking pipes or flooding came to $1,640, the survey suggests. The average homeowner also upped their home projects to 11 this year, up from 8.1 in 2019 — a 23% increase.

The average household spending on home services such as maintenance, landscaping and cleaning projects jumped to $13,138, up from $9,081 on average in 2020. (iStock).

The average household spending on home services such as maintenance, landscaping and cleaning projects jumped to $13,138, up from $9,081 on average in 2020. (iStock).

The boom in home-buying this year is what seems to have spurred consumer spending on renovations and projects around the house, the survey suggests. And the top three most completed projects involved bathroom remodels, interior painting and installing new flooring.

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“A greater cultural focus on home design and home entertainment, an aging housing stock and a shortage of new home construction — among many other fundamental factors — were already resulting in more spending on home improvement, home maintenance, and home emergency repair, and also continued this year,”  said Mischa Fisher, chief economist at HomeAdvisor.

The top reason for home improvement spending was to make the home better suit lifestyle needs, according to 41% of all consumers surveyed. By contrast, in 2019, the No. 1 reason for home improvement was to replace or repair damages, defect or decay, suggesting that the coronavirus pandemic has affected people’s lifestyle and spending habits. 

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“Those factors, combined with a shifting range of needs for households as a result of coping with COVID-19, such as 27% more outdoor living needs, 40% more home entertaining, 50% more working from home, and 70% more home cooking, resulted in a shift in spending patterns,” the report notes.

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The survey also found that more Americans were shifting their budgets from spending money on experiences such as dining out, trips or even commutes, to more tangible goods. Indeed, 33% shifted commuting budgets; 48% shifted vacation budgets, and 54% shifted restaurant budgets into home services, the report said. 

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