It is no surprise that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic affected both business owners and consumers. Understanding these trends is critical to helping your business stay relevant amidst the fluctuations occurring nationwide – and around the world. 

As a professional contractor or remodeler, how are you serving prospective homeowners and keeping up with the latest trends? Every year at Modernize, we conduct an in-depth study of homeowner trends. Our goal is to ensure that contractors have the latest information on how homeowners plan and budget for their upcoming home improvement projects.

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2020 Homeowner Survey vs. 2021 Survey Insights

Last year, our annual homeowner survey occurred between November 2019 and April 2020 – well before the disruption and loss caused by COVID-19. Since then, contractors in the home improvement industry have needed to adapt to meet homeowners’ shifting needs.  

We are excited to share just a few of the exciting insights gathered from our survey findings and how we got there. First, we surveyed more than 20,000 homeowners between January – May 2021.

Survey respondents indicated they are looking to invest in home improvement projects, such as solar, roofing, windows, siding, or air conditioning. Then, we compared the most recent results with the 2020 survey results to highlight the dramatic shifts throughout the industry. 

The results are clear: 2021 homeowner project preferences are shifting. Here are a few of the most notable points you need to know. 

Change #1: Homeowner Research Before Renovation Projects

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, homeowners have spent more time researching and planning for home improvement projects. Our homeowner survey results show that over half of homeowners spend a few hours on research before they are ready to connect with a contractor: 

  • 56 percent of survey responders spend between 1 and 5 hours on research, up from 53 percent pre-pandemic. 
  • 20 percent of homeowners spend zero hours researching, up from 30 percent pre-pandemic. 
  • 15 percent responded that they spend 10 hours or more on research. 

With more homeowners researching before hiring home improvement contractors, it is essential to establish an impactful online presence for your business. 

Change #2: Homeowner Budgets for Home Improvement Projects

One challenge to moving forward with a home improvement project is the financial costs. We found that homeowners are still not budgeting for their home improvement projects properly, causing issues when contractors are ready to close their deals.  

According to our survey, 65 percent of homeowners said they canceled or paused a project because the price was too high. Additionally, 10 percent of homeowners halted their projects because of timing issues due to bad weather, the pandemic, or illness. 

Interestingly, 77 percent of homeowners start exploring home improvement services without first creating a budget for their project.; Among the people who proactively made a budget in advance, 24 percent credit family and friends for the help in creating the budget. 

Since budget is a big concern, home improvement contractors could help homeowners by address common problems, maximize tax incentives, and provide financing options. 

Additionally, take the time to explain how homeowners will save money through energy efficiency. In March 2021, our Modernize survey showed that over 40 percent of homeowners are primarily motivated by cost-savings benefits on their electric and utility bills. 

Change #3: Shift in Homeowner Preferences for Contractors

The pandemic also caused a shift in homeowner preferences when choosing contractors for home improvement projects. For example, 37 percent of homeowners across all trades prioritize ratings and reviews as the most critical factor when choosing a contractor (up from 26 percent in 2020). In addition, 27 percent of survey respondents prioritize expertise, and 10 percent of survey respondents prioritize brands. 

On the other hand, certain factors will drive away potential leads. These are the sales process attributes that make a homeowner least likely to hire a contractor: 

  • 23 percent will not hire a contractor because of a lack of communication 
  • 21 percent will not hire because of lack of expertise 
  • 20 percent will not hire because of an unclear or confusing bid or quote 

More than half of homeowners turn to friends and family for recommendations. Other common sources include search engines, home improvement sites (like Modernize), and social media. 

Creating a solid online reputation is vital when you are trying to win over homeowners. Make a great first impression from the first interaction. Then, you can build a solid relationship going forward. 

Download this ebook for a complete summary of the Modernize homeowner survey. This information is helpful when you are working to grow your contracting business. 

Ready to grow your business?