Chart courtesy of ProSales Online
Chart courtesy of ProSales Online

Click here for a downloadable list of the top 25 counties.

The top 25 U.S. counties with the most potential to see a boom in replacement and remodeling activity for 2011 have been determined by construction publisher Hanley Wood, which publishes REMODELING magazine, based on a variety of factors from location to consumer demographics.

“The data behind the rankings show that these 25 counties — and actually over 300 counties nationwide — are poised for a strong 2011,” says Hanley Wood’s executive director of research, Jonathan Smoke.

According to Smoke, the counties were picked based on all the factors that create a strong remodeling environment: healthy economic conditions and forecasts, lots of housing most amenable to remodeling (older housing stock — but not too old — and relatively expensive), large numbers of the type of households that do remodeling projects, and a strong forecast on the Residential Remodeling Index (RRI).

The 2011 RRI was featured in the January 2011 issue of REMODELING and was a key indicator as to which counties could hear the hum of power tools and the banging of hammers for many months to come.

Some interesting facts about the counties in this list:

  • Densely populated. Only one county has less than 100,000 households.

  • A busy 2010. The RRI’s remodeling activity index benchmarks all counties against one another regarding consumer remodeling projects. All the top 25 are in the top percentile, most in the top 5%.

  • Higher home values. As is usually the case, the more expensive the home, the more remodeling activity there is.

  • Middle age spreads. Hanley Wood’s research suggests that the optimal age for remodeling is in homes built between 1980 and 1999. Counties with a higher concentration of homes built in these two decades scored higher.

  • Location, location, location. All of the counties on the list are in highly desirable areas. The data include consumer segments more likely to take on remodeling projects such as households with families and older homeowners who remain active.

  • Above average activity. These counties are all in markets where the 2011 remodeling forecasts are somewhat higher than the national average. Some are even close to 2007 levels.

When taken as a whole these factors set up a “perfect storm” that indicate a strong year for remodeling in these markets for the rest of 2011. However, contractors and remodelers not located in these top 25 counties should not despair; Smoke said that there are more than 300 counties nationwide that score over 90 in Hanley Wood’s Comparison Index, which indicates that although the industry is not rebounding quickly overall, the healthiest markets are recovering more rapidly. If this data is to be believed, 2011 will see a healthier fourth quarter for more remodelers and contractors than any year since 2007.

—Mark A. Newman, senior editor, REMODELING.