Since peaking in 2005, existing home sales in Portland have dropped precipitously, leading to a slowdown in remodeling activity as well.
In the early days of the housing crash, Portland, Ore., was one of those cities like Seattle and Charlotte, N.C. that resisted the national trend.
2008 was the year that all came grinding to a halt. Existing home sales plunged, home prices dropped for the first time and remodeling activity quickly dried up.
“Portland came to this party late, but now we're getting hit pretty hard,” says Tom Kelly, president of Neil Kelly, the largest remodeling company in Portland.
While the market was slowing, it wasn't until the implosions of the stock and credit markets last fall that things really got bad, Kelly says.
Neil Kelly's prime client is the high-end homeowner. With the losses many of them took in the market last fall and the current uncertainty, a lot of homeowners are reluctant to invest in their homes.
“I've managed through four recessions, and they all have different characteristics,” he says. “This one, the fear on the part of people with wealth is like a new dimension I've not seen before.”
Those who are choosing to remodel are undertaking smaller projects and are much more budget conscious than in the past. Instead of additions, many clients are opting for smaller interior remodels.
One positive for the company has been it's focus on green, which Kelly believes has helped the company weather the downturn better than others.
“Portland's been pretty far ahead of the pack on green,” he says. “For those contractors that have taken that on, and we have for years, that's proven to be a business bonus.”
January was the best month ever for the company's home performance division, and Kelly says the green incentives that look to be part of the stimulus package should help increase interest as well.
|Neil Kelly||Design/build remodeler||$25,488,031|
|A Cut Above Exteriors & Construction||Exterior remodeler||$14,118,051|
|Metke Remodeling & Woodworking||Full service remodeler||$4,633,024|
|Olson & Jones Construction||Full service remodeler||$3,400,000|
|Master Plan Remodeling||Full service remodeler||$2,600,000|
The 2009 Market Leaders list will appear in the October issue. For more information on the Market Leaders, visit www.proremodeler.com.