The home improvement industry could face many significant changes in 2024. For example, new federal regulations on telemarketing practices sent shockwaves throughout the industry at the end of last year.
For more insight on industry trends, I posed several questions to former GE executive and current Leaf Home CEO Jon Bostock. Bostock has more than 15 years of experience as a home improvement executive.
He shared some of his top predictions for 2024 based on first-hand knowledge from Leaf Home’s millions of customers.
On Aging in Place
Drew Barto: Baby Boomers make up 39% of homebuyers in the U.S. What impact will that have on home improvement purchases as that generation ages in place?
Jon Bostock: Baby Boomers, more so than any previous generation, value the ability to age-in-place. Ninety-three percent notes aging-in-place as “an important goal.” Not to mention, by 2025 one-third of all home improvements will be made by homeowners 65 and older. We see this more with our Leaf Home clients too—they choose to renovate their homes to fit their needs rather than move to an expensive assisted living facility or be subjected to soaring interest rates that come with purchasing a new home.
Homeowners are focusing on quick remodels that improve accessibility in the home and their quality of life, including adding grab bars, walk-in bathtubs and showers, elevated toilet seats, replacing rugs with nonslip flooring, motion-sensing lighting, and stairlifts to move easily about the home.
We’ll see the trend of 'starter homes' becoming 'forever homes' take off in 2024, particularly for those who locked in low-interest rates before 2021.
Baby Boomers looking to purchase a new home will consider how the home will age with them, and the value-add of accessibility renovations.
Protection from Extreme Weather Events
Barto: No matter one’s thoughts on climate change, it’s difficult to ignore the threats posed by extreme weather events nationwide. Do you foresee any shifts in product design trends or home improvement buying habits to protect against these events?
Bostock: Unfortunately, extreme weather has become more common across North America. From wildfires in Hawaii and Canada to below-freezing temperatures in Texas, homeowners are increasingly focused on home improvement renovations that “harden” their homes. Home hardening refers to the maintenance process of making the home more resilient to withstand extreme weather events.
To protect against events like winter storms, floods, and tornadoes, we’ll see homeowners’ demand for solar-powered energy, tree trimming, gutter maintenance, and insulated windows increase. These renovations will improve the reliability of the home while defending against common weather-related issues, such as dry leaves sparking a fire, high wind causing trees to fall on homes or cars, and losing power.
Home hardening renovations can increase the home’s value, saving on maintenance and upkeep costs and providing life-saving defense against extreme weather events. The peace of mind of knowing your home is secure during extreme weather events is often the most valuable add for homeowners.
Effects of High-Interest Rates on Home Renovations
Barto: If interest rates remain high, what impact will that have on the home improvement industry in the short and long terms?
Bostock: We’ll see the trend of “starter homes” becoming “forever homes” take off in 2024, particularly for those who locked in low-interest rates before 2021. Homeowners are prisoners of low interest rates, trapped in their homes. As a result, rather than move, we’ll see homeowners upgrade and renovate their current homes to meet their long-term needs.
These home improvement renovations will include projects that are more expensive in the short-term, but result in long-term value for the home, such as roof replacements, garage flooring upgrades, and finishing basements. These projects may not have been intended by the homeowner when they first bought the house, but now that the appeal of moving has significantly decreased, we will see the projects become more widespread.
Artificial Intelligence to Enhance Home Improvement Industry
Barto: Artificial intelligence (AI) is making its way into almost every facet of everyday American life. How might AI benefit the home improvement industry?
Bostock: AI has taken the world by storm this past year and many are worried about losing their jobs. In a recent study, researchers found generative AI tools could impact 300 million jobs worldwide.
Despite advances in predictive maintenance systems to detect potential homeowner issues, AI cannot complete the manual work needed to replace a roof or remodel a kitchen. Each home is different, with a unique set of needs, and only a real person will have the ability and context needed to solve each specific problem.
We are seeing AI used in the home improvement industry in other ways, such as enhancing the customer experience and business operations by reducing friction, eliminating paperwork, increasing response rates, and assisting in scheduling jobs for workers, but not the actual boots-on-the-ground work. For the foreseeable future, home improvement is one industry that AI is enhancing, but not threatening to replace.