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Report Highlights Golden Opportunity for Contractors

A recent report released by Homestars offered some fantastic news for contractors and a fascinating look at the housing landscape within Canada.

While the company has run similar studies in the U.S. for some time, this is the first time it examined Canadian housing preferences and spending habits. The 15-page report summarizes the responses of 1,000 Canadians broken down into four age groups -- Millennials (aged 23-38); Generation X (39-54); Boomers (55-73); and the Silent Generation (74-94).

The most surprising finding of the report, says Kishawna Peck, Homestars' Manager of Data Analytics, is that only 9 per cent of Canadians are planning to move next year.

"I feel like that's huge," she says.

Because this was the first time doing this report, there were no benchmarks, but Peck said she "definitely expected it to be higher than that." In fact, she thought it could be as high as one-third.

The other big surprise was that next year two-thirds of respondents are planning on spending as much or more on renovations than they did this year.

"So there's a lot of intention to renovate the space that Canadians are in right now, and they're not looking to move, they're looking more to freshen up the spaces that they're in," Peck says.

Currently, the most popular reno projects are interior painting, bathrooms, followed closely by kitchens.

Other key findings include:
  • 91 per cent live in homes worth less than $1 million;
  • Over three-quarters of respondents said they had cash on hand to carry out their home improvements;
  • The most likely group to use their credit cards to finance a renovation? Millennials;
  • Alberta had the highest percentage of projects over $50,000;
  • Millennials are the most likely group to have a bathroom reno done;
  • The average cost of a bathroom reno project is $13,393; and
  • Three-quarters of respondents say they were charged a fair price for renos.
That so many respondents had cash on hand to finance renovations also really shocked her: "That was pretty mind-blowing."

Another big eye opener for Peck was the fact that Millennials are the most active of the four groups in terms of renovation spending. She said she found this surprising given all the recent news reports suggesting how difficult it is for this generation to even own a home. However, she adds, their research showed that 40 per cent of Canadian homeowners are under the age of 35.

Peck speculated that the younger respondents are most likely to buy fixer-uppers, which is another reason they are more active in renovations.

Peck says that 93 per cent of Millennials read reviews before making a purchase, so if you want to do business with this group, you have to engage them on the platform in which they're comfortable with. That flyer you leave in their mailbox? "That's probably going straight to recycling," she says.

So social media becomes huge when marketing to Millennials; that means ensuring you have a strong online presence. "Your online reputation is extremely important in differentiating your business and building that trust," Peck says.

Her advice:
  • Google yourself: See what pops up in terms of poor reviews that you may need to get in front of. You must effectively manage that negative feedback and how you respond to it may very well dictate how well you can mitigate the possible damage;
  • Solicit reviews: Try to get reviews from customers you have a good rapport with; and
  • Get help: Homestars offers webinars covering this topic.

You can download the complete report here.