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Despite widespread disruptions to the U.S. economy from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 73% of homeowners are planning to renovate their homes in 2020, according to a May 2020 LightStream home improvement survey. That percentage is only slightly below the 77% of homeowners reporting home improvement plans for 2020 in a January LightStream survey.

"As a result of COVID-19 shutdowns that closed offices, businesses, schools and more, self-isolation has forced Americans to take a much closer look at their homes," said Todd Nelson, senior vice president of strategic partnerships at LightStream.

According to the survey, individuals are moving forward with or expanding projects at more than twice the rate of those cutting back or canceling planned projects. COVID-19 is shifting where the attention of homeowners lies, though, and nearly half of homeowners planning home improvement projects want to complete an outdoor project. In particular, parents are more likely than non-parents to upgrade outdoor spaces and take on pool projects.

Of homeowners cutting back or canceling 2020 projects, the majority are doing so because of a reprioritization of discretionary spending. Additionally, nearly 30% of homeowners are choosing instead to build up savings and assets while 28% of homeowners experienced loss of income individually or within the family.

"Consumers who are feeling less economic security are wisely holding back spending on discretionary purchases," said Nelson. "Those planning big ticket purchases must set a budget for their project so that they don't overspend or deplete emergency savings and other important financial assets. And if they are going to borrow to finance their project, they need to look for lower interest rates options, like installment loans, rather than credit cards with higher interest rates."

The average amount homeowners plan to spend on improvement projects ($11,851) has increased slightly from January ($11,473). Fewer millennials are planning to renovate compared to January, but millennials are pursuing more expensive projects now, planning to spend on average $16,088 on projects.

As a result of COVID-19, homeowners are reportedly placing a higher value on privacy in their homes. More than a third of surveyed homeowners feel they do not have a personal space in their house—the percentage is higher among parents. Additionally, homeowners engaged in virtual classes and video chats more frequently are more conscious of how their homes look on these calls. Nearly two thirds of homeowners who have made video calls from home during the pandemic are embarrassed by part of their living space, according to LightStream.

The LightStream Home Improvement Survey, conducted by Wakefield Research, generated responses from 1,300 nationally representative U.S. homeowners between May 7 and May 15 via an online survey. Quotas were set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. homeowner population.