Study: Gen Xers Outspend Boomers on Home Renovations

NEW YORK (AP) — A new study by Houzz reveals a surprising trend in the home improvement market — Gen Xers outspend baby boomers on renovations. According to the report, the average Gen Xer spent $25,000 on home renovations in 2023, compared to the $24,000 and $20,000 spent by baby boomers and millennials.

This gap widens further when looking at the top 10% of spenders in each group, with Gen X topping out at a staggering $180,000 compared to boomers’ $131,000 and millennials’ $148,000.

Who Are Gen Xers?

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Metrics typically define Generation X as individuals born from 1965 to 1980, which puts them between ages 44 and 59. Baby boomers — between the ages of 60 and 78 — precede Generation X, while millennials — ages 28 to 43 — follow.

Gen Xers Top Spenders

Experts point to a confluence of factors when addressing why Gen Xers continue to pour money into renovations despite already caring for aging parents and children.

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Firstly, Gen Xers are reaching a life stage where careers peak, leading to greater financial stability.

“They are looking to enhance their living spaces for long-term comfort and functionality. They are not just preparing homes for resale but are personalizing spaces that reflect their tastes and needs,” explains Brad Smith, CEO and Interior Designer of Omni Home Ideas.

Secondly, the generation nears empty nest status, freeing up resources and renewing the desire for a more luxurious living environment.

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Thirdly, remote work growth keeps more Gen Xers home. Michael Dinich, a financial advisor and personal finance expert, highlights a shift among his Gen X clients. “They no longer want a long commute to work like they did in their younger years. Renovating allows them to add well-equipped workspaces within their homes.”

Spare rooms, basements, and underutilized spaces are becoming dedicated home offices equipped with ergonomic furniture, adequate lighting, and high-speed connectivity.

Aging also influences spending. Jon Morgan, CEO of Venture Smarter, points out, “Many Gen Xers bought their homes during the housing boom of the 1990s, and let’s be honest, those trends haven’t exactly aged like fine wine. They’re ready for a modern refresh.” These older homes are ripe for upgrades, fueling renovation activity.

The New DIY

Millennials power the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) movement on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, but Gen Xers favor “Done For You” services that, while professional and high-quality, aren’t cheap.

Young homeowner Vicky Gill recently shared her experience on the DIY website IKEAhackers.net. After receiving a $2,600 quote for built-in living room cabinets, Gill went the DIY route. She combined IKEA cabinets with elbow grease, bringing the project cost down to a mere $500.

“We could have saved time and perhaps achieved a more polished look with a professional,” she reflects. “However, by doing it ourselves, we saved thousands, and the cabinets turned out exactly as we envisioned. The sense of accomplishment we felt upon completing this project was priceless, and it has inspired us with the confidence to tackle more DIY endeavors,” Vicky adds.

For Gen Xers, hiring out would be money well spent. Around 43% utilize construction professionals compared to just 40% of millennials.

“Time is the only resource we can’t get back. I would rather pay a professional to do a good job than spend hours watching YouTube videos on how to makeover my kitchen,” says Devy Dar, 53, who recently paid for a $7,600 kitchen renovation.

Rooms to Focus

The study also broke down the popularity of renovation projects. Kitchens remain the undisputed champions, with 29% of homeowners tackling them. Bathrooms follow closely, with guest and primary bathrooms clocking in at 27% and 25%, respectively.

Around one in five homeowners undertake living room renovations. The consistently rising median spend for kitchens and primary bathrooms reached $24,000 and $15,000 in 2023, respectively, reflecting a desire for high-quality upgrades in these areas.

Besides the areas that traditionally boost home value, home offices (12%) and outdoor living spaces are getting their fair share of renovation, reflecting changes in work-life dynamics and the biophilic trend of merging outdoor and indoor spaces.

Tips for Gen X Renovators

For Gen Xers considering a home renovation, here are some tips to navigate the process smoothly:

  • Financials: Be realistic about budgets. Factor in unexpected costs and secure financing if needed.
  • Prioritize: Prioritize renovations that offer both enjoyment and return on investment.
  • Design: Develop a clear project vision. Create a mood board and consult a designer to ensure renovations meet personal needs and style.
  • Hiring: Research qualified contractors and get multiple bids. Check references and ensure they are licensed and insured.
  • Negotiate: Research market prices of materials and fees. Don’t be afraid to negotiate following high quotes.
  • Project Management: Stay organized. Establish clear timelines and communication channels with contractors to avoid delays and misunderstandings.

By carefully planning and prioritizing their spending, Gen Xers can leverage their financial power to create dream homes that reflect their evolving needs and lifestyles.

By Jules Yap 

This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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