Denver Nails Top Spot in Metro Ranking for Home Improvement

Row of single family homes within a neighborhood

by John Egan
January 12, 2017

Homeowners in the Denver, CO, metro area must be making a ton of trips to Home Depot and Lowe’s.

A LawnStarter analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows 69.3 percent of homeowners in the Denver area had undertaken home improvement projects in the past two years. That’s the highest percentage among the 25 major metro areas included in the Census Bureau’s 2015 American Housing Survey. The data was released in January 2017.

While Home Depot doesn’t provide sales figures by metro area, spokesman Matt Harrigan says the home improvement retailer’s 26-store Denver market “is a very important market for us. It’s one of our major markets.”

As for Home Depot’s chief rival, Lowe’s, spokesman Steve Salazar says the company operates 16 stores in the Denver area. Lowe’s declined to provide details about the performance of its Denver-area stores.

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Photo: City of Denver

Go West

Pam Heidel, a spokeswoman for the Home Improvement Research Institute, says her group doesn’t track metro-level data, but she says Western mountain states like Colorado and Utah are seeing an uptick in spending on home improvement thanks to intertwined job growth and population growth.

“Both Colorado and Utah have been attracting capital in the technology segment and rapidly adding tech workers,” with many of those workers relocating for these new jobs, she says. “People tend to do more home improvement projects when they move,” Heidel says.

For 2017, the Home Improvement Research Institute is projecting 6 percent growth in spending on home improvement in the West’s mountain region. “Colorado is one of the states that is driving that growth,” Heidel says.

Stapleton Denver is one of the newest neighborhoods in the region.
Photo: Stapleton Denver

Happy Homeowners

In Denver, one reason that home improvement is so popular could be that homeowners there are generally happy with their living situations. A 36-metro survey commissioned in 2016 by HomeAdvisor, an online marketplace for home services, found that Denver ranked third for homeowner happiness, behind San Francisco, CA, and Los Angeles, CA.

If people feel happy about their homes, then they’re more likely to sink money into them, according to Brad Hunter, chief economist at HomeAdvisor. In the HomeAdvisor survey, 80 percent of homeowners in the Denver area said they’d renovated their homes.

Rich in Equity

Another factor fueling home improvement in the Denver area: Homeowners there are sitting on a nice chunk of home equity.

From the third quarter of 2015 to the third quarter of 2016, the Denver area’s share of equity-rich homeowners rose by 11.2 percentage points, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, a provider of property data. During that period, Denver was one of seven large metros where the share of equity-rich homeowners jumped by at least 10 percentage points, ATTOM says.

Homeowners in the Denver area “feel richer, so they feel more like splurging on themselves,” Hunter says.

Brad Hunter is chief economist at HomeAdvisor.

One of those splurges is home improvement, with Denver-area homeowners believing their home investments will pay off in the long run, according to Hunter.

In many cases, homeowners turn to home equity lines of credit to pay for home improvements. In the Denver area, the number of new home equity lines of credit jumped 24 percent in the second quarter of 2016 compared with the second quarter of 2015, according to ATTOM.

Homeowners in Denver and other metro areas “are increasingly tapping the home equity that many have built up during the last four years of rapidly rising home prices,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president of ATTOM.

Check out the graphic below, which shows the top six metros for home improvement, based on the share of homeowners who’d tackled home improvement projects in the past two years.

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Top Photo: Stapleton Denver

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