Maintenance and remodel activity sinks as the pandemic worsens

COVID-19 reached its peak in the United States last month and the housing market felt the strain of the pandemic. A record number of houses were pulled off the market, new construction slowed, and existing home sales decreased.

Existing housing activity, which often sees a boost from property transactions, was no exception. Across the board, maintenance and remodeling—a subset of maintenance that includes renovations, additions, and alterations—declined drastically year over year.

Single-family housing authorizations still increased year over year, but the growth was slight and signifies a slowing from March. On the other hand, single-family housing authorizations dipped month over month.

New and Existing Housing Supply Activity, April 2020

  • Single-family housing authorizations increased 1.20% year over year.
  • Existing housing maintenance volume decreased 29.09% year over year.
  • Existing housing remodel volume increased 33.83% year over year. 

“Existing housing activity plunged in April alongside existing home sales, the latter of which is one major factor that drives maintenance and remodels,” said Jonathan Kanarek, managing director of BuildFax, a Verisk business. “While repair work following a weather event and routine upgrades also influence maintenance trends, existing home sales undoubtedly spur increased maintenance and remodeling activity as homeowners prepare to sell their home or, given the aging house stock, purchase and repair a fixer upper. Right now, while some markets are still experiencing steady home sale activity, by and large, property transactions have slowed substantially, which subsequently affects the pace of maintenance and remodeling. On the bright side, we anticipate maintenance and remodeling to rebound as the number of home sales starts increasing later this year.”

Download the full report for a deep dive into how housing activity has reacted to progression of the COVID-19 outbreak.