Sneak Peek: Top 20 Remodeling Markets

Chicago RANK: 20     INDEX: 89.4 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: Rounding out the Top 20 this year, the Windy City has benefited from increases in employment, steady population growth, and positive permit activity. Home prices in Chicago are just now bottoming out. Concerns include state and local government budget shortfalls, as well as a high cost of doing business. REMODELING ACTIVITY: 3% growth is anticipated for 2012 AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Lake Zurich, Naperville, Northbrook, Buffalo Grove

Tulsa, Okla. RANK: 19     INDEX: 89.6 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: Up 10 spots on the RRI compared to last year, unemployment in Tulsa remains much lower than the national average, and the city has shown growth in construction and manufacturing. The GreenPark Tulsa project continues to move forward as a home for energy- and efficiency-related businesses and light manufacturing. Though Tulsa is nationally ranked for apartment rent growth, home prices are not yet showing appreciation. Permit volume here has fluctuated. REMODELING ACTIVITY: Activity in Tulsa hardly dropped compared to the rest of the country during the initial downturn, but was weaker in 2011 AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Tulsa proper, Broken Arrow, Owasso

Atlanta RANK: 18     INDEX: 89.7 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: Up 22 spots from the 40th position on the list last year, Atlanta continues to offer a friendly business climate and diverse economic base. The city has shown gains in the hospitality industry. Though population growth is trending upward, household credit conditions remain poor in Atlanta. Commercial real estate is a continued weak spot, and distressed pressure on the housing market remains high. REMODELING ACTIVITY: 4% growth is expected here in 2012 AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Alpharetta, Roswell, Suwanee, Duluth

Detroit RANK: 17     INDEX: 89.8 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: Detroit's urban and cultural renaissance have brought increased investment and development activity to the city, and the economy is showing some improvement. Household growth is no longer negative, and restructuring of the Motor City's automakers has provided stability for the area. That said, cuts in government jobs are looming, and Detroit still suffers from a high unemployment rate. The housing market has not yet shown consistent signs of recovery. REMODELING ACTIVITY: Though activity in Detroit has declined more than the national average, 1% growth is expected in 2012 AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Rochester, Troy, West Bloomfield, Macomb

St. Louis RANK: 16     INDEX: 90.2 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: Though St. Louis suffers from a high unemployment rate, the city has an educated and skilled workforce and has shown a positive trend toward job growth. Household growth was also up in 2011. Home prices have stabilized, but are not yet increasing. Stalled construction in the downtown area remains a concern. REMODELING ACTIVITY: St. Louis has the 20th largest remodeling market based on total number of projects. AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: O'Fallon, Ballwin, St. Louis proper, Chesterfield

Philadelphia RANK: 15     INDEX: 90.7 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: Housing affordability has improved in the City of Brotherly Love, while large commercial construction projects and growth across the service industries have also helped the city. The housing market in Philadelphia has been difficult, but may have finally reached bottom. Concerns going forward include local budget shortfalls and a drop in manufacturing activity. REMODELING ACTIVITY: 6th largest remodeling market based on number of projects AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Blue Bell, Newtown, Doylestown, and Hockessin, Del.

Oklahoma City RANK: 13 (tie)     INDEX: 90.9 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: The housing market has stabilized in Oklahoma City, and investment and development are on the rise. The city has shown sustained demographic growth. Low unemployment and strong job growth have been beneficial, however state and city tax revenue are down, and the city is experiencing labor shortages in the bioscience and IT industries. REMODELING ACTIVITY: Activity is stabilizing after a hangover from the expiration of energy tax credits. AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Oklahoma City proper, Edmond, Norman

Boston RANK: 13 (tie)     INDEX: 90.9 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: Coming in at lucky 13 for the second year in a row, growth in the service and technology sectors have helped the city maintain an unemployment rate several points lower than the national average. However, cuts in government spending and re-emerging financial concerns are worrisome. Home prices in the area are not yet recovering. REMODELING ACTIVITY: Boston boasts the 6th largest market based on remodeling activity per household. AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Hingham, Lexington, Needham, Andover, Sudbury

Charlotte, N.C. RANK: 12     INDEX: 91 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: The good news for Charlotte is that the city's rate of economic recovery is outpacing the nation. The bad news is that stalling national economic growth threatens that trend. Charlotte has grown in the clean energy sector and remains an attractive region for relocating businesses, however the city's financial sector has played a diminished role in the economy, and unemployment in the area is above average. REMODELING ACTIVITY: Activity in 2011 was only 6% off the city's peak in 2007. AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Charlotte proper, Matthews

Portland, Ore. RANK: 9 (tie)     INDEX: 91.5 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: Large corporations have reported growth plans for this area of the Pacific Northwest, and the city has shown significant growth in total households and a spike in building permit issuance. Meanwhile, unemployment remains high in the Portland area, and home prices continue to decline without bottoming out. REMODELING ACTIVITY: 3% growth expected in 2012 AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Portland proper, West Linn, Lake Oswego, and Camas, Wash.

Kansas City RANK: 9 (tie)     INDEX: 91.5 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: Both business and residency have played well for Kansas City. The city shows an increasing rate of population growth, business costs remain low, and the manufacturing sector is showing gains. Meanwhile, the city has an over-dependence on its telecom industry, and its financial industry remains weak. The housing market may well have reached bottom, but is not showing clear signs of recovery just yet. REMODELING ACTIVITY: 1% growth in activity expected in 2012 AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Leawood, Overland Park, Olathe

Seattle RANK: 8     INDEX: 92.1 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: Seattle's housing market is showing signs of recovery, and the city boasts a per-capita income well above the national average and rising. Though the city has been a center for the software and high-tech industry, and benefits from its location on a seaport with easy access to Asian and Pacific Rim markets, Seattle lacks a diverse economic base. Concerns include constrained local and state budgets, as well as high housing costs. REMODELING ACTIVITY: 4% increase in activity expected for 2012 AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Bellevue, Sammamish, Mercer Island, Redmond

Columbus, Ohio RANK: 7     INDEX: 92.2 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: Columbus has benefited from a stable labor market, helping it climb the RRI list, up from the 10th spot last year. The city has seen an increase in building activity, including a new Casino and entertainment district. The housing market in Columbus is just now reaching bottom. Concerns going forward include federal and local budget cuts, as well as a slowdown in education and health services. REMODELING ACTIVITY: 1% growth expected in 2012 AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Powell, Westerville, Dublin, Pickerington

Denver RANK: 6     INDEX: 92.3 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: A significant decline in foreclosure filings helped Denver's RRI position this year. The city shows a strong demand for rental housing, and is expanding its public transit system. At the same time, home prices are not yet stabilizing in the Denver area, and the city has shown slow job growth. Low home sales volume is improving. REMODELING ACTIVITY: Activity in Denver is only 10% off its market peak. AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Littleton, Englewood, Parker

Cleveland RANK: 5     INDEX: 92.7 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: Cleveland's huge jump on the RRI from the 74th spot last year can be credited to a stabilized housing market and improving job growth in the city, as well as a large number of development projects in the works and an increasing high-tech and biotech presence. State and local budget deficits cause some concern, as well as continuing population declines. REMODELING ACTIVITY: 3% growth in activity is expected for 2012 AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Westlake, Strongsville, Avon Lake, Medina

Austin RANK: 4     INDEX: 93.4 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: With an affordable housing supply and healthy population growth, Austin moves up one spot on the RRI this year. The city has a well-educated and skilled labor force, and has shown itself to offer an ideal climate for corporate relocation. That said, Austin has high exposure to the volatile tech industry, and high office vacancy rates. REMODELING ACTIVITY: Activity in Austin hardly dropped compared to the rest of the country. AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Austin proper, Round Rock

Dallas RANK: 3     INDEX: 95.2 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: The Dallas area has benefited from a large number of corporate headquarters in the area. The outlook for housing market rebound is positive, and the a high rate of population growth is forecast for the city. Dallas's unemployment rate is currently better than the national average, though is not showing signs of improvement. High office vacancies have hurt the construction industry. REMODELING ACTIVITY: Dallas is the 5th largest remodeling market based on number of projects. AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Plano, Southlake, Colleyville, Keller

Minneapolis RANK: 2     INDEX: 95.4 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: As a hub for medical technologies and home to many businesses' corporate headquarters, Minneapolis boasts a well-educated workforce and above-average incomes. Unemployment in the city is relatively low and continues to fall. At the same time, home sales in Minneapolis are not yet rebounding, and the city is dealing with slowing population growth and declining tax revenue. REMODELING ACTIVITY: Get ready: A 6% growth in projects is expected in 2012. AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Eden Prairie, Osseo, Minneapolis proper, Lakeville

Houston RANK: 1     INDEX: 97.6 STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES: Stable job growth and rebounding home sales have bolstered the Houston market, which takes the top spot this year, up from #2 last year. Population growth here remains strong, and the city benefits from substantial trade and export relations. That said, while home prices are stable, they are not yet on an upswing. Houston also deals with continued competition with other Gulf-area ports. REMODELING ACTIVITY: Houston has hardly dropped compared to the rest of the country. AREAS WITH POTENTIAL: Sugarland, Spring, Katy, Kingwood

Join the Discussion

Please read our Content Guidelines before posting

Close X